Editor: Marc Bridle

Regional Editor:Bill Kenny


Webmaster: Len Mullenger





WWW MusicWeb

Search Music Web with FreeFind

Any Review or Article



Seen and Heard Concert Reviw


Royal College of Music String Player of the Year: Wigmore Hall, 3.10.2005 (ED)


Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin) / Daniel Smith (piano):
Bartok: Sonata for solo violin – Tempo di Ciaconna

Saint-Saens (arr. Ysaye): Caprice d’apres l’etude en forme de valse, op 52, no. 6

Lucy Scotchmer (cello) / Stephen Scotchmer (piano):

Grieg: Sonata for cello and piano in A Minor, op 36 – Allegro agitato

Dutilleux: Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher

Anton Petrov (guitar):

Rodrigo: Invocation et Danse

Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Capriccio Diabolico

Dunja Lavrova (violin) / Alvin Moisey (piano):

Brahms: Violin sonata no. 3, op 108 – Allegro

Ysaye: Sonata no. 6 for solo violin, op 27, no.6

Francis Kefford (viola) / Alvin Moisey (piano):

Enescu: Konzertstuck for viola and piano

Vaughan Williams: Romance for viola and piano

Zhengyi Yang (double bass) / Alvin Moisey (piano):

Bottesini: Concerto for double bass and piano no. 2 – Allegro moderato
Gliere: Tarantella for double bass and piano, op 9, no. 2

Vlad Hirlav-Maistorovici (violin) / Ellena Hale (piano):

Szymanowski: Variations on Paganini’s Caprice no. 24

Ravel: Tzigane



There are two equally valid takes on the evening as a whole: to see it as a celebration of the finest string playing talent emerging from the Royal College of Music, or to see it as the ‘Competition of Competitions’, as each player has been awarded one or more prizes in internal competitions. The evening culminated in one being announced String Player of the Year, of which more later. Personally though, I was glad the celebratory spirit outweighed the merely competitive, as all demonstrated fine qualities and undoubtedly had contributions to make.  The breadth of instruments and repertoire also kept everyone on their toes.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen (b. 1986, UK) opened proceedings audaciously with an assuredly virtuosic account of the Tempo di Ciaconna from Bartok’s solo sonata. By turns she realised meditative, romantic and steely aspects of the work and moved between them with ease. The Saint-Saens proved an exhibition of technique and style, as only one might expect with a work arranged by Ysaye to showcase his own not insubstantial talent. Her tone, though not as forthright as others, was full and ringing nonetheless. A pity that the piano was a touch plodding in accompaniment to the Saint-Saens.

Lucy Scotchmer (UK), ably accompanied by father Stephen, brought an apt lyrical romanticism to the Grieg, though she came across with greater ease in the higher range of her instrument. The contrast made by the Dutilleux was great indeed – strength, of interpretation as well as of tone, was matched by an at times almost forced intensity for which I was rather unprepared. The melodious negotiation of often difficult musical lines and the guitar-like sonorities found in the first strophe (Un poco indeciso) further added to the impression made in this challenging music.

Guitarist Anton Petrov (b. 1983, Russia) transported us on a solo voyage to Spain, and played with great feeling for the idiom of both works. He alone in the entire evening demonstrated that an intimate performance can be an enthralling one. The Rodrigo was distinguished by an almost bell-like clarity to the introduction and the disarming simplicity of the dance itself, cleanly voiced. Whilst for some Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Capriccio Diabolico might appear lacking in outgoing diabolicism, the performance was finely graded to make the most of the internal contrasts.

The evening’s second violinist Dunja Lavrova (b. 1985, Russia) revealed a very different tone and technique, in contrast to Waley-Cohen, being much brighter and indeed rather ‘in yer face’. Far from being off-putting though this proved an exciting experience and true to form for Russian violinists. The Brahms was richly nuanced, showing that beneath the blaze of singing lines there were sub-layers of texture and shading to be revealed. By contrast the Ysaye sonata was the embodiment of bravura playing with a core of steel in the tone.  Greatly impressive, in short.

Francis Kefford (Australia) lent playing of technical fluency to two under-acknowledged works, but I could not help feeling that the instrument itself was not best suited to them. The Enescu positively leapt to life when pushed to the top register, but seemed to have a hole where the mid register might have been before showing a nicely woody bass. The Vaughan Williams captured some of the work’s elegiac qualities although with wiry tone at times that detracted a little.

Zhengyi Yang (China) demonstrated the range of the double bass and made a cogent case for its solo role. With musical phrasing the Bottesini played warmly to the instrument’s upper range, and rather unexpectedly the cadenza all but avoided the anticipated lower range. Gliere, also one to deliver the unexpected, pushed the instrument out of normal territory into prestissimo nimbly articulated passages that were brought off with an almost jazz-like inflection at times.

Vlad Hirlav-Maistorovici (b. 1985, Romania) is a no holes barred violinist. His technical assuredness is balanced by interpretive willingness to push boundaries that can, and often does, make sparks fly. Szymanowski and Ravel offered near ideal vehicles for him to show this. As was commented afterwards by the adjudicator, it might have been Paganini himself playing the Szymanowski, so much did both the Italian and Polish elements come through.  Ravel’s Tzigane was dispatched all the instinctiveness of a gypsy fiddler, and all the technique of a virtuoso. Both performances were also notable for producing the only genuine duo partnerships of the evening, Ellena Hale’s accompaniments being sensitive and telling.

I mentioned the competition element earlier. Cellist Natalie Clein adjudicated, which made me fear she might just hand it to Lucy Scotchmer. In the end Tamsin Waley-Cohen was named Royal College of Music String Player of the Year, for her performance of the Bartok, according to Clein. The right decision? Well, I am sure each faction of parents and friends would have something to say about that. However, if pushed – and given the standard I’m glad I wasn’t! – I would have gone for Dunja Lavrova or Vlad Hirlav-Maistorovici. They simply headed an extremely strong field.



Evan Dickerson


Back to the Top     Back to the Index Page





Contributors: Marc Bridle (North American Editor), Martin Anderson, Patrick Burnson, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Geoff Diggines, Sarah Dunlop, Evan Dickerson Melanie Eskenazi (London Editor) Robert J Farr, Abigail Frymann, Göran Forsling, Simon Hewitt-Jones, Bruce Hodges,Tim Hodgkinson, Martin Hoyle, Bernard Jacobson, Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Ben Killeen, Bill Kenny (Regional Editor), Ian Lace, Jean Martin, John Leeman, Neil McGowan, Bettina Mara, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Simon Morgan, Aline Nassif, Anne Ozorio, Ian Pace, John Phillips, Jim Pritchard, John Quinn, Peter Quantrill, Alex Russell, Paul Serotsky, Harvey Steiman, Christopher Thomas, John Warnaby, Hans-Theodor Wolhfahrt, Peter Grahame Woolf (Founder & Emeritus Editor)