Review: concert rich in warmth and humour

Source: The Royal Gazette

The stage was filled with 30 Bermuda Menuhin musicians for this concert celebrating the centenary year of Yehudi Menuhin’s birth and the 40th anniversary of his Bermuda Foundation; it could not fail to be an emotional moment.

As John Campbell said in his opening address at the Earl Cameron Theatre on Friday night, the Menuhin Foundation has “transformed the musical landscape in Bermuda”.

The idea for this musical celebration and reunion came from cellist Liz Tremblay, who, together with conductor Philip Burrin and other former Menuhin instructors, returned to the island especially to perform.

The orchestra and soloists offered us an evening of rich music, brilliantly played with warmth, humour, comradeship, steely expertise and unpretentious professionalism. There was genuine affection, playfulness and empathy between conductor and players, giving the audience added enjoyment.

Highlights from the concert included Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for strings featuring a quartet (Jean Fletcher and Suzanne Dunkerley violins, Ross Cohen viola and Liz Tremblay cello) interacting with the orchestra.

Its lush English harmonies and celebratory tone set up the evening. Two elegiac melodies by Grieg formed a contemplative and romantic interlude before Holst’s St Paul’s Suite with its robust estampie-like jig and joyful “Irish washerwoman meets Greensleeves” finale.

Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, played with driving urgency and high energy by soloists Diane Wakefield, Alison Black, Cal Fell and Sarah Bridgland, led to Ernest Bloch’s 1924 Concerto Grosso No 1 with Andrea Hodson joining the orchestra on piano.

The piece has a biblical feel to it in the second movement, lightened by American and European country dance tunes in the third. The final fugue consisted of four parts leading to a full-throated and dense finale.

For those in the audience whose children and grandchildren have benefited from Lord Menuhin’s gift, the concert was especially moving. Indeed, some of the players were current Menuhin students themselves, proving that after 40 years, Lord Menuhin’s generous legacy to Bermuda continues to thrive.

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