Review: Ipswich School Festival, Music for Strings, October 6th

Ipswich School which hosts a highly successful annual music festival which has just drawn to a close

Ipswich School which hosts a highly successful annual music festival which has just drawn to a close. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich School’s Festival of Music ended on a high note (literally) with a fine concert of music for strings ranging from solos and duets to quartet, octet and full string orchestra. Eight players currently on the Artists Diploma programme at the Royal College of Music spent the earlier part of the day tutoring and working with the Ipswich School String Chamber Orchestra and the concert began with Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for 4 violins conducted by the school’s Director of Music, Sion Parry. Under his crisp baton the pupils played with energy and commitment, dynamics were fully observed and the work brought to a most satisfying conclusion.

This was followed by two excellent solos, the prelude from Bach’s first cello suite, played with precision and poise by Timothee Botbol and a strong authoritative rendering of the fugue from the same composer’s first violin sonata by played by Pierre Frappier who later gave a brilliant performance of Paganini’s famous Caprice no 24. An extrovert and dynamic Passacaglia for violin and viola based on a tune by Handel and splendidly played by Soy-Yon Kim and Bryony Gibson-Cornish really captured the audience.

The Alke String Quartet, formed in 2011 and currently in residence at the RCM on the Artist Diploma in Chamber Music course, concluded the first half with Janacek’s string quartet no 1, an intense and passionate work. The performance took a little while to settle but it grew in stature and the composer’s unique vision and sound world was well conveyed.

All eight visitors came together for an energetic and hugely enjoyable performance of Mendelssohn’s youthful and evergreen octet. From the very first bar there was an intense expectation as the first violin swept smoothly upwards and the music gathered momentum. The delicious scherzo bounced and sparkled and the rapid fugato passages in the finale were played with exceptional skill and elan. This was a very well planned and delivered concert of varied string music.

Gareth Jones