Music festival welcomes renowned pianist Luka Okros to Sidmouth

Luka Okros will be performing in Sidmouth on June 23.

Luka Okros will be performing in Sidmouth on June 23. - Credit: Archant

The second of East Devon Music Festival’s concerts in Sidmouth featured the popular ISCA ensemble under Music Director Roger Hendy and featuring pianist Luka Okros as the soloist.

Roger opened with a selection of four pieces from Prokofiev’s second suite from the ballet Romeo and Juliet.

‘Montagues and Capulets’ must be the piece of Prokofiev everyone knows and a suitably discordant opening led to the famous bombastic theme rhythmically driven on by brass and percussion.

Then ‘Juliet as a young girl’ shows us the scampering mischief of a playful girl which evolves to give a premonition of things to come.

‘Friar Lawrence’ draws a serene and noble picture of a protective influence, and finally ‘Dance’ does exactly that, provided by side drum, strings and oboe. The set made a good opener for the concert, settling the orchestra and pleasing for the audience.

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The second work was a set of Slavonic dances by Dvorak.

Through many of his works, Dvorak shows an amazing ability to produce tunes of his own invention using traditional folk rhythms which then sound thoroughly authentic.

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Roger and the orchestra gave us a selection of five, including a lively Polka, a charming and graceful Minuet, a lively stepping dance, a graceful mazurka and a ‘Furiant’, ebullient and energetic as its name might suggest.

The main piece of the concert came after the interval with Luka Okros at the piano in Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto, one of the most glorious and well known pieces in the repertoire.

Here the pianist and orchestra both rose fully to the challenge and were tight together throughout an exhilarating performance.

The beginning had a suitably edgy and mysterious opening, piano and orchestra both confident throughout a well phrased first movement. In the second the strings were again well together in the haunting introduction before the piano returned in a lovely peaceful movement. The exhilarating third movement was all you could wish for from both orchestra and pianist who had their audience enthralled with a thoroughly enjoyable finale and a great end to a splendid concert.

Stephen Huyshe-Shires

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