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The Razumovsky Ensemble on 9 January 2007 are really the crème de la crème amongst performers. The changing sequence of artists for each event guarantees listening every time to great music afresh, while their director Oleg Kogan commands his forces to give more than their best by his own searing playing and depth of musicality. Listen to the opening measures of Mozart's supreme Quintet in C K515 and you will remain captivated thereafter by every strand. Schoenberg's early Verklärte Nacht formed the most original companion piece. Full marks to the entire supporting team: Winfried Rademacher and David Alberman, violins, Krzysztof Chorzelski and Philip Dukes, violas, David Cohen, cello.

Natalia Strelchenko is certainly the pianistic find from the first month of 2007. Her recital took place on 3 January. A pupil of Kaleria Sandovkaya and Alexander Sandler, she entered the St Peterburg Conservatoire at the age of 13 in 1989 and since 2001 has studied with Professor Einar Henning Smebye at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, graduating in 2004. She immediately impressed as a vivacious artiste in complete command of her stagecraft and deportment with a stunning insight into the works of Agathe Backer Grondahl -- excerpts from Norwegian folksongs and folk dances, Op 30 -- and Liszt's 12 Etudes d'execution transcendante. Grondahl's complete solo output is a comparative rarity to UK listeners, so Strelchenko's recording producer Arne-Petek Rognan is preparing a DVD on her life and music. Agathe (1847-1907), was a superb pianist -composer, admired by Grieg who chose her to perform his own Piano Concerto. There are also two CDs on Arena: one to promote Grondhal's music, which will be a forthcoming complete release of the solo pianoworks. The other is the Liszt Transcendental Etudes -- further details in due course.

Copyright © 1 March 2007 Bill Newman, Edgware UK



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