This concert was given by young string players from the Royal Academy of Music and by newly graduated soprano and Leeds maths graduate Sophie Pullen in the Atrium of the Ashmolean Musuem. The intriguing programme was of music for strings by Mendelssohn sandwiching songs by Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss.
The concert opened with Mendelssohn’s string symphony no 9, written in 1823 when the composer was fourteen. It was played by thirteen OSJ Young Performers, first year undergraduates at the RAM conducted by John Lubbock, ‘side-by-side’ with three players from OSJ itself. Mostly standing, they gave a performance of appropriately youthful enthusiasm without sacrificing precision.
The concluding work was the Octet of 1825, only two years later but displaying far greater maturity, which also received a scintillating performance by two student string quartets both formed in 2011 at the Royal Academy of Music. The Delmege Quartet was named after the late John Delmege, the well-known local amateur chamber music player whose family endowed the Quartet to study with the Maggini Quartet.
The Alauda Quartet – 2013/14 Fellows in chamber music at the Academy – are mentored by Jon Thorne (Badke Quartet) and Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet)and perform regularly throughout the UK and internationally. The performance was brilliantly led by Tom Aldren – brilliant first violin of the Delmege, who kept firm control of the eight instruments.
Sophie Pullen sang two songs by Rachmaninov and two by Srauss with string accompaniment. She sang well but seemed to have difficulty of adjusting her obvious power to the acoustic of the Atrium. Outstanding though was her performance of Rachmaninov’s wordless Vocalise. During the interval Jon Whiteley gave another of his insightful short talks, this time on the way the same landscapes which had inspired nineteenth century painters also influenced the poets and lieder writers.
Review by Peter Schofield
Oxford Magazine and www.peterschofieldsreviews.weebly.com