Leamington blessed with wonderful weekend of classical music - The Leamington Observer

Leamington blessed with wonderful weekend of classical music

LEAMINGTON was once more blessed over the long Bank Holiday weekend with fine music bringing a wealth of top class musicians to the annual festival.

The Pump Rooms shouldered the burden of the majority of concerts ranging from sparklingly informal coffee concerts to full-blown recitals and the programme included some well-known names from the classical world.

As in previous years the festival carried a theme – this year’s being the music of Rachmaninov – with plenty of complementary support from a wide range of composers.

And, as in previous years, the music-loving public came in numbers, the enforced low times of the pandemic gradually receding into the distance as music took centre stage.

Cellist Gemma Rosefield and Pianist Tim Horton returned to the stage where last year they made a hurried fill-in appearance after indisposition struck. This year, as last, the musicianship and understanding was simply brilliant.

A meticulous and spirited playing of Beethoven’s Ein Madchen oder Weibchen Variations was followed by two of Rachmaninov’s most lyrical works for the cello. The richness of tone and sheer quality of sound in the Vocalise was matched, if not surpassed, by a superb reading of the G Minor Cello Sonata. Gemma Rosefield’s playing is understandably highly-praised but to see such music produced live and in the informal context of a coffee morning was one of those magic moments for which this festival and this venue are becoming known.

Rachmaninov on a far bigger scale was afforded by the visit of the Sinfonia of Birmingham to the much more capacious dimensions of All Saints Church. The orchestra, under the inspirational leadership of conductor Michael Seal presented the Russian great at his most expansive but not before another of those unexpected delights that well-planned and thoughtfully-curated festivals provide.

Amy Dickson has been the go-to player for a wide panorama of saxophone repertoire for some time and her performance of Glazunov’s glittering concerto here will have converted many to become fans of an instrument which always seems to be an uninvited guest in the orchestra. The church’s fine acoustic afforded the chance to hear every note and every flowing line in a piece and a performance which will be remembered.

The performance of Rachmaninov’s vast, cascading second symphony will certainly live long in the memory. Devotees of Classic FM may have been surprised to learn the piece has more than just the one movement, but such was the balance, passion and attention to detail here, that the entirety sounded as one perfect edifice and the power, majesty and outright beauty of the music was quite breathtaking.

The curtain falling on this year’s festival does not mean the end for music over the summer and into the coming seasons. Full details of a rich programme of concerts and recitals can be found at leamingtonmusic.org


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