Chamber festival or orchestral?

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A previous concert in the church with Richard Lester, cellist, Jaime Martin, conductor, and members of the London Mozart Players

It might be thought that an orchestral concert is out of place during a chamber music event, but the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival has created a tradition of placing its inspirational co-directors Richard Lester (‘cello) and Anthony Marwood (violin) literally centre stage on its Friday evening, and their playing is always so persuasive that no one finds it odd. Certainly, there could have been only enthusiasm for the June 24 concert at St Mary’s, Rye, with the London Mozart Players repeating their wonderful musicianship of last year.

The evening began with a vividly convincing account of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony under the Players’ charismatic conductor Jaime Martin, who elicited a powerfully exciting interpretation. This joyous commitment was repeated in their accompaniment to Richard Lester’s pre-interval performance of Haydn’s second ‘cello concerto. I am reliably informed that the first movement of this work is very frequently an audition and examination piece, so it was a triumph that the soloist presented what must be to him second nature, in as fresh and new-minted a way as could be wished. Richard Lester not only played with beauty and expressiveness, but also wittily anticipated the second-half Beethoven violin concerto, by ingeniously including thematic references to it in the Haydn’s cadenzas.

After the interval, Anthony Marwood gave us a version of the Beethoven violin concerto which, though full of lyricism and charm, did not neglect the work’s power and serious elements, in the communication of which he was perfectly supported by the orchestra. I remember becoming acquainted with this work in the early sixties at school and it was moving to find that, especially in this beautiful performance, it still has the emotional impact it had then. The Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival is an adornment to the musical life of our area and everyone involved in mounting this magical event deserves our gratitude and congratulations.

photo: Kenneth Bird

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