Lucerne Festival Strings/Fiedler Poltera, Goldsmiths' Hall, London
Thursday 03 July 2008
Raised on a dais amid the splendours of the Goldsmiths' Hall in Foster Lane, the 17 young players of the Lucerne Festival Strings were ardent and polished under their conductor, Achim Fiedler, for their appearance in the Swiss-themed City of London Festival.
They opened and closed with two of those crisply proficient string symphonies that Mendelssohn was already composing in his early teens – a curious mix of neo-baroque formality, lightness and dash. The one-movement Symphony for Strings No 10 in B minor opened gravely, but was soon scudding along with Mendelssohnian intentness, while the Andante of the Symphony for Strings No 9 in C major featured a mysterious walking fugato that foreshadow the "Pilgrims March" movement of the Italian Symphony, still a decade in the future.
The heart of the concert, however, was devoted to two works by the Swiss master Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957), less known in Britain than he deserves to be, but who made highly distinctive contributions to 20th-century opera and song.
The two late works we heard tended to look back at the romanticism of Schoeck's youth. Indeed, the long opening movement of the 35-minute Cello Concerto Op 61 had something of the elegiac, nobly sequential feel of a Swiss Elgar – except that he composed it in the wake of the Second World War, not the First. An uneven work, perhaps, which seemed to change direction stylistically as it proceeded towards its crazily upbeat ending – but projected with an unflagging security, eloquence and warmth by the young Swiss cellist Christian Poltera in a solo part that barely lets up for a bar.
Yet the real find of the concert was a one-movement nocturne for strings, based on a poem about harvesting in moonlight by Schoeck's compatriot, Gottfried Keller, composed in 1945 and entitled Sommernacht. This crepuscular web of unfolding lines, later yielding to a kind of tranced, lilting dance touched by high sonorities and nightingale figuration for solo violin, provided 14 minutes of mystery and enchantment, beautifully played and warmly received.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate