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11th November 2013

Simply Strad Concert Review by Caroline Gill

Caroline Gill writes…

A full house at the Royal Academy of Music in London witnessed a supernova of Strads at the London Cello Society’s 10th birthday celebrations on 3 November.

The Duke’s Hall hosted the evening, which started with a performance-lecture by Simon Morris, director of dealers J&A Beare, joined by Raphael Wallfisch. Morris was previously cellist with the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields and there were some surprising duets between him and Wallfisch, including the Domenico Gabrieli canon for two cellos in G major.

The following concert programme included performances of Bach and Faure on the “Barajansky” Strad of 1690 by Julian Lloyd-Webber, exerpts from the beautiful Rachmaninov Cello Sonata in G minor by Robert Max on the 1726 “Saveuse” (a much darker sound than the others on the stage that evening), Dvorak from Christian Poltéra on the history-sodden (literally) 1711 “Mara”, Tchaikovsky and Massenet from Stéphane Tétreault with the ex-Greenhouse “Countess of Stanlein” Strad of 1707. The violist Paul Silverthorne joined Raphael Wallfisch to reuinte the Archinto viola of 1696 with the Archinto cello (made seven years previously) for Beethoven’s scarcely performed “Eyeglass” Duo, but the highlight for many in the audience was an extraordinary performance of the challenging Suite for Violincello solo of Penderecki by the young German-Japanese cellist Danjulo Ishizaka. Even a popping A-string on the great “Feuermann” of 1730 during the Aria didn’t dampen the appluase at the end of his insightful and intricate performance. The concert ended with no fewer than eight Strads on stage, playing first the Wilhelm Fitzenhagen “Ave Maria” for four cellos and then a jubilant arrangement of “Ain’t Misbehavin’”.

The centre of the evening was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Charles Beare, the recently retired Chairman of J&A Beare. The award was presented by Steven Isserlis, who flew in specially and read out the award certificate for those who couldn’t see, adding “… and his life as a sex symbol in the music world.” In his typically modest acceptance speech (he had to be more-than-gently pressurised to agree to come up on stage to receive the award), Beare reminded everyone that Stradivari never liked to make the same cello twice. This made all the more impressive the fact that Beare, as Isserlis pointed out, can remember the fine details of every instrument he has ever seen.

Brompton’s are proud to have sponsored such a glittering and joyful evening, and hope the capacity audience enjoyed it as much as they did.

View the Concert

Watch videos of the entire Simply Strad concert by visiting our YouTube page.