De recensie van The Spidy Editor over 'The Lark Ascending':
Saturday’s concert, given by the Stift Music Festival on the 27th August in the idyllic setting of Hooge Boekel, a Dutch country house just outside Enschede, was the perfect backdrop for a programme of English music, featuring the Britten Youth String Orchestra (BYSO) conducted by Loes Visser, and soloists Daniel Rowland, Mi-Sa Yang and Maja Bogdanović. The orchestra dressed in an array of red outfits made their entrance to the stage walking through the beautiful garden alongside a lake as the sun shone down, gilding all in its wake.
The concert started with Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony – a staple of the string orchestra repertoire. The young players grew in confidence as they became acquainted with the quite challenging acoustic of this outdoor venue, with only the vast expanse of the lake as a backdrop. We were treated to some lovely phrasing in the pizzicato 2nd movement. This contrasted nicely with the 3rd movement Sentimental Sarabande, which had some stylish and very accomplished playing. Cleaner starts to the movements would just push their performance to the next level.
Mi-Sa Yang, the young Japanese violinist joined the stage to continue the English theme with Ralph Vaugh William’s The Lark Ascending. This was an atmospheric and ethereal performance, with an almost improvisatory feel to the opening section. Even the resident Alsatian dog in the audience was stilled! Were we transported to an English garden, complete with the lark? Well yes, metaphorically, we were. Mi-Sa is a most promising young violinist with an enchanting stage presence. I look forward to hearing her play again in the future.
After a short pause in what was really quite a physically demanding programme, Maja Bogdanović entered the stage. How would this arrangement of the Elgar Cello Concerto work? Would there be enough bass and power to compensate for the lack of wind and brass? Reassuringly, what was on offer was an intense and emotional reading from the Serbian cellist. There is a sadness in her playing which is very real, yet at times sharply contrasted with playing of such lightness and sensitivity. I would have liked more weight from the orchestral cellos in their 4th movement theme, but this was a minor blemish in what had been a masterclass in ensemble playing from musicians of such a young age. They should all be applauded.
Finishing the afternoon, Daniel (wearing his red shoes!) joined the stage for a performance of the Skoryk Melody. Daniel’s ability to make this piece sound fresh each and every time he plays it is a real gift. The audience were transported to Ukrainian wheat fields, and the English countryside, now a distant memory.
Overijssel and the Twente region are so incredibly lucky to have this husband and wife pairing of Daniel and Maja literally on our doorsteps – a couple who show such passion and devotion by bringing music-making of such quality to this sometimes overlooked corner of the Netherlands. I look forward to attending many more concerts from the Stift Music Festival next year.