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Concerto Competition 2018

On Thursday 27 September nine of our exceptional musicians took to the stage, backed by a professional orchestra, to play a movement from a major piece of the concerto repertoire. The performances were utterly outstanding, demonstrating both dazzling technical prowess and deep musical understanding.

The competition began with Alasdair playing Piano Concerto Op. 54, 1st Movement by Robert Schumann. The daunting task of opening the evening’s concert did not phase Alasdair as he handled the arresting opening passage with gravitas and poise; the evening was off to an excellent start! Our second soloist was Cameron, offering the Horn Concerto No.4 K.495, 3rd Movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This piece requires a high level of technical ability and stamina in order to maintain the energetic quaver theme; Cameron more than managed to keep up and the audience were clearly caught up in the lively mood he created.

In contrast to the euphoric mood of the Mozart the Piano Concerto No.2 Op.102, 2nd Movement by Dimitri Shostakovich demands long and expressive musical lines. The soloist, Jacob, appeared to understand these demands perfectly; his performance displayed an astonishing musical maturity. The second member of the Fourth Form to perform was Isabella, who gave a wonderful performance of the Oboe Concerto Op.9, No.2, 1st Movement by Tomaso Albinoni. Isabella transported us back to the Baroque era, making the music dance and sing.

The Symphonie Espagnole, Op.21, 1st Movement by Édouard Lalo is a piece of terrific technical complexity, both for the soloist and the accompanying orchestra. The soloist, Alexander, was in control from the first powerful downbeat. Alexander captured the vivacious dance rhythms with flair and confidence and appeared entirely absorbed by the music. Few pieces would be able to follow the Lalo and still make an immediate impact, however the Piano Concerto, Op.16, 1st Movement by Edvard Grieg did so with gusto. Robert, who has only be learning the Piano since January, gave a blistering performance of this iconic concerto. He held the attention of the room with his virtuosic cadenza and reacted to the orchestral colours with an impressive musicality.

Our next soloist brought us back to the balanced phrases and lively, delicate melodic lines of the classical period with a committed and lyrical performance of the Violin Concerto No.3 K.216, 1st Movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The adjudicator commented on Ismael’s ability to take the listener on a musical journey; he was certainly in control throughout and clearly understood the structure of the piece deeply. Joseph Haydn was a friend of Mozart’s and his Trumpet Concerto, 2nd Movement was next in the concert, performed by William. The long melodic lines pose a technical challenge for the soloist, however William produced a beautiful tone with seemingly effortless consistency.

The final piece of the concert was the Violin Concerto, Op.82, 1st Movement by Alexander Glazunov. The soloist, Jimena, had waited all evening to play, but did not disappoint with an arresting performance of a musically and technically challenging piece. Jimena played with a musical conviction beyond her years and ensured that the evening ended on a high.

Our adjudicator, Neil Matthews, admitted to having been given an almost impossible task. Any one of the nine players was worthy of being awarded the prize and he was keen to stress this point whilst offering insightful feedback for each soloist. In the end Alexander was awarded the prize for his scintillating performance of the Symphonie Espagnole by Édouard Lalo.