Violin Concerto in A minor BWV 1041
Souvenir de Florence Op 70
J S Bach Brandenburg Concerto No.3
in G BWV 1048
Mendelssohn Concerto for Violin and
String Orchestra in D minor
Sarasate Zigeunerweisen "Gypsy
Aire" Op 20
foyer of the Wigmore Hall was buzzing with
excitement and anticipation. Young musicians
with instruments in hand punctuated the animated
crowd and there was no shortage of students
(past and present) from the Academy and Menuhin
School – two musical establishments that nurtured
the rise of the talented violinist and soloist,
21 years of age, Sitkovetsky takes to the
role of soloist like a duck to water – but
this is unsurprising when we consider a solo
career that dates back to 1991 with the chamber
orchestra in Montpellier and, following that,
performances with the late Lord Menuhin, numerous
international musical festivals, prestigious
venues across the globe (including the Royal
Festival Hall and Amsterdam Concertgebouw)
and recently a second CD release for EMI/Angel
with the Bach made for an electrifying opening.
The 11-strong Russian Virtuosi formed
a semi-circle around the soloist and the drama
that ensued was played out in both musical
and visual terms. A pity, therefore, that
the clarity and incisiveness of a well conceived
opening movement was marred somewhat by sharp
intonation from the lower regions of the ensemble.
same hitch afflicted the Andante, where
the magical atmosphere was compromised in
the orchestral tutti by intonation trouble
in the bass. And yet in spite of this flaw,
one could not fail to indulge in Sitkovetsky’s
honeyed tone and haunting serenity.
by the Allegro Assai, cellos and bass
had exorcised their intonation demons. Sitkovetsky’s
effortless fingerwork was matched by an athleticism
and togetherness from the Russian Virtuosi
members (all successful award-winning instrumentalists
beyond their duties with this 2003-inaugurated
group). Definitely the high-point of this
the ensuing Tchaikovsky chamber-piece, the
Russian Virtuosi stripped-down to a
sextet with two of each instrument: violin,
viola and cello. Lead violinist Yuri Zhislin
threw himself into the rustic manoeuvres of
the Allegro con spirito with a ravenous
appetite. Where Mr Zhislin succeeded in braving
the chaotic textures, however, his cello interlocutor
did not: the result was a one-sided argument.
movement went on, the performances grew stronger
and more assured. Nevertheless, for all the
accomplished individual contributions, there
lacked a real sense of unity. During the fugal
passages, for instance, the junctures and
voice-interrelationships were hard to discern.
And more obviously, melodies struggled to
be heard above the densely packed textural
was restored in the solemn Adagio cantabile
e con moto with charming violin and cello
dialogues over a delicate pizzicato backdrop.
The viola brushed a bolder tone that stood
its ground in brazen defiance. Entirely appropriate,
therefore, that the viola should carry the
tune for the folk-like Allegretto moderato.
a train chugging away, the speedy Allegro
vivace propelled us into a world of densely
packed ideas and imitation. Mixing repose
(on unison, held notes) with cheeky gestures
and utter frenzy – that at one point resembles
uncannily the insanity of Beethoven's Grosse
Fugue quartet – was no obstacle for this accomplished
set of musicians.
better to recover from the intensity of the
Tchaikovsky with Bach’s beloved Brandenburg
Concerto No.3? As with the A minor concerto
at the start of the concert: sensitive balance,
perfect poise and clean, vibrant articulation.
Sadly, much of this momentum was lost in the
Allegro that rather took the performers
by surprise, or so it seemed. Heralded by
a delightful quasi-improvised tune on Mr Zhislin’s
violin, the ensemble stumbled into the accelerated
pace but, on the strength of the violin and
viola leads, made it to the finish line in
the eagerly awaited Mendelssohn D minor violin
concerto. Mr Sitkovetsky did not disappoint.
An affirmative introduction from the orchestra
announced an impeccable solo. Shiny-smooth
scalic work, nuanced with great emotion, rendered
a depth of feeling that is hard to communicate
given the technical innocence and naivety
of the notes in themselves. Mr Sitkovetsky
is without a doubt a wonderful musician.
Andante especially one really appreciated
the impact of the Russian Virtuosi
whose strength and vitality lies in a collaboration
of their individual musical personalities.
The violin solo cadenzas rose out of this
rich soundscape to meditate upon musical figures
with exhilarating spontaneity.
a moment’s rest in the rondo finale, with
humorous gesticulations from our soloist who
only just stopped short of breaking into dance!
Such a performance could only be followed
by the showmanship of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen.
Mr Sitkovetsky delivered the introduction
with gratifyingly thick sounds and indulgent
ornamentations. The quick-paced round off
kept us all on our toes!
an encore: the Mendelssohn final movement
a second time. Fabulous.