Manchester Camerata Strings At The Cathedral – Manchester Confidential

Posted on February 2, 2015

Neil Sowerby, Manchester Confidential, 1 February 2015

Manchester Camerata at Manchester Cathedral

Neil Sowerby salutes the blossoming violin virtuosity of Adi Brett

One of the joys of sharing the fascinating musical voyage of Manchester Camerata is its commitment to elevating its principal players to soloist in flagship concerts. Thus, principal cellist Hannah Roberts will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the orchestra at the refurbished RNCM Concert Hall on Wednesday, February 11.

Further evidence of the rare cluster of talent conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy has gathered around him came with the performance of Leader Adi Brett in this Strings Only Concert in Manchester Cathedral featuring works by Mozart, Stravinsky, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.

Even with Brett’s impressive CV, with the Halle and other ensembles, it was still a hard act to follow the charismatic Giovanni Guzzo in leading the Camerata. From last June when she became Leader she has been impressive but still very much part of the collective.

From the moment on Friday she stepped up as soloist in Haydn’s testing Violin Concerto in C Major the reins were well and truly off. It was heart-stopping stuff that held the audience spellbound, even those whose thoughts might have strayed ahead to interval Booths’ gin bar in the Regimental Chapel.

Flanked by virtuosic outer movements, it was the rapt Adagio with its echoes of Vivaldi, that showed off Brett’s beautiful tone as her violin’s song soared over plucked strings.

Before the Haydn there was an illuminating contrast in the way string music can work between Mozart’s playful Divertimento in F and the rhythmic tensions of Stravinsky’s Concerto in D for Strings from 1946. For me, though, the revelation of the evening was a work I didn’t know – Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, which closed the concert. It was a personal favourite (“I am violently in love with this work”) of the Russian composer.

As with the Haydn, its Mozartian opening Andante is heavy with double-stopping, building a remarkable intensity that lingers even behind the obvious salonlike elegance of the movement that follows. It was impressive how the Camerata then shifted seamlessly into the contrasting final two movements – a haunting Elegie and a jaunty Finale based on but not dominated by Russian folk tunes.

Terrific stuff!