Review: Isca Ensemble with impressive visiting musicians

PUBLISHED: 11:55 22 June 2019

Roger Hendy and young pianist Luka Okros. Picture: John Dalton

Roger Hendy and young pianist Luka Okros. Picture: John Dalton

John Dalton

Young pianist Luka Okros and guest leader Sergei Emelyanov performed with the Isca Ensemble in their latest Sidmouth concert

Two visiting musicians from Eastern Europe helped to bring a sparkle to the latest concert by the Isca Ensemble, in Sidmouth Parish Church Saturday, June 8.

The young Georgian pianist Luka Okros was the brilliant soloist in Mozart's C major Piano Concerto, K.467. Familiarly known by its nickname Elvira Madigan, from its use in that film, it was already a favourite with the capacity audience, and the careful and charming way in which Mozart's phrases were explored in each of the three movements gave Okros's performance that extra brilliance.

After the classical reserve of the Mozart, an encore with a completely different character was chosen. It seemed almost impossible to believe that just two hands could play so many notes in the Fourth Prelude of Rachmaninov, which Okros despatched with such aplomb.

Sergei Emelyanov, the guest leader, had travelled from Tatarstan, where he is highly regarded as a musician, and holds the post of concertmeister of the state's symphony orchestra. Under his leadership the strings of the orchestra achieved an extra 'bite' and there was a lively response in all sections. This was especially so in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.4 in F minor, so inextricably bound up with the composer's emotional state at the time of its composition in 1876-77. The horn players excelled themselves in declaiming the opening Fate motif, and from there the whole orchestra was in brilliant form, even the difficult pizzicatos of the third movement passing without a noticeable botched note.

Opening the concert was Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, getting the event off to a fine start with those three loud, unison chords which immediately suggest the fierce pride of Coriolanus.

Conductor Roger Hendy kept his forces under tight control throughout and helped to make this one of the very best performances the Isca Ensemble has given, much to the delight of the very appreciative audience.

Luka Orkos also gave a first-class recital the following afternoon. Exquisitely performed sonatas by Haydn and Chopin were followed by a stunning performance of the Sonata in B minor by Liszt which justifiably received a standing ovation.

The two events raised a considerable sum for Hospiscare.

JOHN DALTON

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