Wow, what a vibrant and joy-packed evening, given by four fantastic teenage musicians! Mendelssohn, Mozart and Sibelius violin concertos, Schumann Lieders and Chansons by Fauré, Caucasus flute melodies and so much more in one evening – we could not have been more spoiled.
As in the previous years, we invited four talented young performers who aspire to a career in music in the future. This year, all of them happened to be female performers, but with different characters and styles; I feel each performer offered the best of their strengths and charms.
Sasha Scott, the youngest of all, opened the evening with her powerful choice of Ysaӱe’s Obsession and the 1st movement of Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. She is a dynamic player who was able to throw her musical messages directly at us. Her account of the Ysaӱe was delivered with acuteness and well-executed accentuation. We heard some really fleshy and meaty sounds throughout the Mendelssohn, which was very satisfying, and her singing vibratos in the lyrical passages were impressive.
Hannah Dienes-Williams, the 17-year old soprano, possessed a power and intelligence to draw the audience in. Britten’s Let the Florid Music Praise was a sensational way to start her programme, breaking the barrier between the performer and audience (if there was any). What an excellent control of voice, both in volume and differentiation of light and shade. The dark dream sequences of Nocturne were a shiveringly beautiful account and Schumann’s Widmung was a pure joy to listen to, like flowers blossoming one-by-one until the room was full.
Through her excellently balanced and well-chosen programme, sandwiching the baroque flute concerto by two relatively modern composers, flautist Hollie Tibbotts offered a flowing musicality. She had a wonderful breath and sound control, an ability to capture the right mood for each piece, and play quick successive notes smoothly. The beautiful opening melody and following passages of the Jacob’s Concerto were much appreciated. Taktakishivili’s Flute Sonata was such a charming, fun piece which got me toe-tapping.
It was Amber Emson’s second appearance at Breinton. Those who had attended last year’s Young Performers evening were all amazed how she has developed and matured into a stunning performer. A beautiful rendition of the 1st movement of Mozart Violin Concerto No 3 was heard with a smooth, unbroken string of silvery sounds. In Fugue from Bach’s solo Sonata No. 2, Amber projected all the incredible voices with grace. And what a finale – we shared the rhythm, momentum and excitement of Sibelius Violin Concerto 3rd movement delivered with such authority and elegance.
None of the above would have been possible without our piano collaborator in residence (I’ve just given her this title!), Alison Rhind. Her experience, skilled technique, insightful interpretation, sympathetic approach and care towards each performer added a level of comfort to the young musicians and huge enjoyment to the whole evening.
Many thanks to Rhia, who turned pages flawlessly for the entire evening.