Review: Alexandra Soumn with Philharmonia Orchestra at Cambridge Corn Exchange

Alexandra Soumm played with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Cambridge Corn Exchange

Alexandra Soumm played with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Cambridge Corn Exchange - Credit: Archant

Cambridge was treated to an evening with the superlative Philharmonia Orchestra at The Corn Exchange on Saturday, March 4.

Resident at The Royal Festival Hall since 1995, the Philharmonia, which operates under the artistic direction of principal conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, is at the centre of British musical life, and they certainly did not fail to impress.

Under the expertise of the internationally acclaimed Russian conductor, Tugan Sokhiev, the evening opened with the surging swells of Mendelssohn’s overture, The Hebrides. The inspiration for which came from visiting Scotland in 1829 at the age of 20.

It was on seeing the columnar rock foundation known as Fingal’s Cave on the Island of Staffa that the young composer first conceived the persistent, churning B minor motif that opens the piece. The overture was performed with great aplomb and finesse to a captivated audience. Next on the programme was Bruch’s lyrical masterpiece Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor for which the orchestra was joined on stage by the French guest soloist, Alexandra Soumm.

Soumm, who has performed with leading orchestras around the world, executed an impressive and passionate performance of what is a haunting and resonant piece, famous for the lilting timbre of the violin, a clear expression of Bruch’s native Hungary.


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The violinist then addressed the audience to introduce her solo performance of Ysaye’s Sonata No. 2. With the delight of an artist keen to share their passion and insight, she explained how the clashing motifs of the piece, like an argument where neither party is listening and therefore cannot be resolved, reflected much of the world today. At this she commenced a work full of discord and distress.The evening concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 Pathétique the final major offering before the composer’s sudden death in 1893 which moves through its four movements, from sombre, unbalanced and despairing moods. The Philharmonia performed the work to perfection, with both gravitas and yearning and was met with great appreciation and delight from The Corn Exchange audience.

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