St Albans Abbey concert makes an impact

PUBLISHED: 14:41 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

THOUGH many young musicians have performed with orchestras in St Albans over the years, few have made the impact that Russian Anna-Liisa Bezrodny produced on Saturday. Her passionate and powerful performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the St Alb

THOUGH many young musicians have performed with orchestras in St Albans over the years, few have made the impact that Russian Anna-Liisa Bezrodny produced on Saturday.

Her passionate and powerful performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the St Albans Symphony Orchestra was fit for any of the world's top concert halls.

Yet Anna-Liisa had only stepped in to play the work two weeks earlier after fellow Russian Dmitri Torchinski had been forced to pull out of the solo role.

She can perhaps be considered a Sibelius specialist, having trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki from the age of nine, but even so her performance of the demanding work was a complete thrill. Throughout the three movements she played with huge emotion and passion and produced tremendous tonal qualities which made the first movement cadenza a completely-new and moving experience.

Her tremendous skill and emotion infused the orchestra, lifting it to match her performance and conductor James Ross worked well to ensure an excellent cohesion between the orchestra and its guest.

The reaction of the audience as her performance ended and the general interval chatter which followed demonstrated that Anna-Liisa Bezrodny will be more than welcome if she returns to St Albans again.

For the main work of the evening the orchestra had chosen Edward Elgar's First Symphony, a work which, to be honest, I find stodgy and over long.

Though it was overshadowed by the Sibelius Concerto, the orchestra gave a sound and competent performance of what is, for the musicians, a very demanding piece which tends to use all the orchestra for most of the time.

The concert had opened with Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture which, sadly, was not the orchestra's finest hour. Helios opens with a fine passage of music for the horn section which represents sunrise. Unfortunately, perhaps because the five horns in the section were still cold, it simply did not work.

JOHN MANNING

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