Magazine article Musical Opinion

Harrogate International Festival

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Harrogate International Festival

Article excerpt

Each year one marvels at the ability of the Harrogate International Festival's Director, William Culver Dodds, to discover vibrant talent at the beginning of successful musical careers for his annual Young Musicians Series, an increasingly important element in the Festival format. The Duo of Jamie Walton and Charles Owen in their recital at the Old Swan Hotel on 2 August included a classically elegant account of Beethoven's Variations on Mozart's Ein Madchen oder weibchen wunscht, James MacMillan's user friendly Kiss on Wood, and Piazolla's virtuosic La Grand Tango. However, the highlight was Rachmaninov's Sonata in G Minor..The artists' account was anything but the tired warhorse this work has become at the hands of so many others. Intense, musical restraint and artistic interplay enabled climactic moments to shine more lustrously.

The international character of this Festival was asserted strongly by a marvellous concert on 1 August to which the beauties of the Royal Hall, now in urgent need of repair and rumoured to be under threat of demolition, made an important contribution. For many it is the County's loveliest concert hall. During much of Haydn's La Passione Symphony the notes were caressed rather than played, and the music's inner tragedy emerged all the more starkly because of its understatement. Amid fleeting blemishes in the Allegro of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, the duo of Sandra Schinder and Dmitri Jakubovski displayed a commanding stylistic unity as diverse thematic material unfolded. Ravishing solo exchanges in the Andante and in a piquant Finale under the unobtrusive but infinitely telling, direction of Saulius Sondeckis completed a memorable performance. …

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