BACH AND BEYOND CLOSING CONCERT
19 May 2013
with thanks to Josephine Crabb
performance of diamante brilliance by The Albrecht Ensemble directed
by Alexandra Wood provided a sparkling finale to the 2013 Cookham
concert, sponsored by Hitachi Europe, opened with Bach’s Double
Violin Concerto in D minor. The soloists Marcus Barcham Stevens and
Alexandra Wood performed with stunning virtuosity and empathy in a
crisp Vivace, an elegant Largo ma no tanto and a determined Allegro.
next captivating piece was the Duet written for Yehudi Menuhin by
the US composer Steve Reich, in the early 1990s. Reich wrote
minimalist music that uses a short notation that repeats in a loop
which is a construct popular in film music.
described the Duet as a bridge between the Bach and the Britten with
two violins playing in a cannon and accompanying strings in the
background. The driving pulse gives the piece its energy. Performed
by Alexandra and Marcus the Duet had a dancing, bell like quality
with a final section that accelerated to a grand conclusion.
is Benjamin Britten year and to mark this anniversary we were all
entranced by their performance of the Britten Simple Symphony op4 a
1934. Alexandra described this composition as one showing innovation
and ingenuity, with the individual movements ‘doing exactly what
it says on the tin’.
second half of the concert programme was the four concertos of
Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. It is always a challenge to find a
fresh approach to such a well known piece but one to which Alexandra
and the Albrecht Ensemble rose with alacrity and charm with a
particularly poignant Largo e pianissimo sempre and singular clarity
in the Allegro Pastorale in ‘Spring’.
non molto of ‘Summer’ was played with a caress contrasting with
a strident Adagio e piano – Presto e forte during which the
artists were playing with great enthusiasm and joy, before moving on
to the Presto performed with dedication and gusto.
brought us the strains of a melancholy keyboard before progressing
to a ‘Winter’ which alternated between the spiky and the smooth
to an enigmatic conclusion.
A fabulous performance enjoyed by everyone present, and a perfect finale to the 2013 Cookham Festival.
charged yet imaginatively refined” (The Times), won major prizes
at International Violin Competitions including Wieniawski, Tibor
Varga, Lipizer and Yampolsky. Alexandra graduated with a starred
double first from Selwyn College, Cambridge before going on to the
Royal College of Music in London, where she was President Emerita
Scholar and studied with Itzhak Rashkovsky. She then held the Mills
Williams and subsequently the Phoebe Benham Junior Fellowships.
is a member of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, and has just been
appointed co-leader of the Britten Sinfonia. Marcus has broadcast as
a soloist on BBC Radio 3, played with the Nash Ensemble at the
Wigmore Hall, and performed chamber music with Freddy Kempf, Peter
Donohoe, Paul Lewis, Alina Ibragimova, Leon McCawley, Paul Watkins,
and with Thomas Adès as pianist in music by Adès at Carnegie Hall,
New York. He has guest-led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
(with whom he also held the position of Principal First Violin), the
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt),
Musikfabrik (Koln) and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Period work includes playing with Sir John Eliot Gardiner's
orchestras ORR/EBS, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and
Jonathan Cohen's ensemble Arcangelo. Marcus is a member of the mixed
chamber group Chroma, and is also a composer: “Dhyana” for
soprano and ensemble was described by George Hall (the Guardian) as
“hugely impressive” and he was a finalist in 2012 in the New
Music for St.Paul's Cathedral competition.
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