Aldeburgh Strings at Milton Court, Friday 3 April 2015

Thursday night’s concert at Milton Court given by Aldeburgh Strings featured works by Strauss, Britten and Stravinsky – a preview of the group’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall concert, part of this year’s Aldeburgh Easter Weekend.

The group is part of the Britten Pears Young Artists Programme and consists of players who have graduated from music colleges across the world and are about to embark on their professional careers. Set up in 2010, the group has met for various projects working with leading artists including tonight’s director Markus Daunert. The players meet, work and reside in Aldeburgh for intesnive periods of rehearsals and concerts, supported by The Levershulme Trust and the Canadian Aldeburgh Foundation.

Roger Wright, Aldeburgh’s new Chief Executive, hosted a pre-concert talk with director Markus Daunert.

“Aldeburgh gives the players time to talk and present different ideas,” explained an excited Markus Daunert, “that doesn’t happen so much in big orchestras – I think that’s because of the significantly time they have available and because of their size.”

The “time and space” element has long been a draw for musicians to Snape and Aldeburgh. It’s good to see that spirit alive and well on stage too. There was an energy and intensity in Thursday night’s performance which feels as though it comes from the musicians having the chance to really immerse themselves in the music. It’s not often you see musicians quite so readily enjoying themselves on stage: knowing smiles exchanged with one another across the stage; a tangible sense of collaboration; a refreshing lack of cynicism.

Daunert has been a fixture at Aldeburgh for 7 years now, but it’s been this particular week-long project which has seen him work with other mentors – violinst Michael Brooks Reid, viola player Danusha Waskiewica, cellist Elena Chea and bassist Waldemar Schwiertz. He explained some of the opportunities (or challenges, depending on how you look at it) inherent in working alongside so many other professionals: “We all listen the group in rehearsals and come up with different ideas at the end. Sometimes as director it becomes really very difficult to work out which is the best path to follow.” But it’s at that point the time and space to discuss things amongst the group really comes into its own, “There is no mobile phone signal at Snape,” he said, “which means we can focus on the music.” “But it’s about consensus, not compromise, isn’t it?” asked Roger. “Absolutely.”

There was something rather tantalising about the result, especially in Britten’s Young Apollo in which the performers on stage, joined by pianist Lorenzo Soules, really flew producing something irresistibly uplifting. Everyone stood. Daunert led. The (professional) principals didn’t eclipse everyone else around them. It was a gloriously fulfilling team effort on stage, and a gloriously gratifying one from the third row of the stalls.

Aldeburgh Strings are recording on Linn Records this weekend. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Strauss’ Metamorphosen and Britten’s Young Apollo.

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