Kenneth Woods Conductor Kenneth Woods
Alexander Sitkovetsky Violin
8 February 2016
Composer Emily Doolittle http://emilydoolittle.com was born in Nova Scotia in 1972 and educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton University. From 2008-2015 she lived in Seattle, where she was an Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts. She now lives in Glasgow, UK.
She has written for such ensembles as Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto), Symphony Nova Scotia, the Vancouver Island Symphony, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble and Paragon as well as a number of prominent solo performers.
Emily Doolittle has an ongoing research interest in zoomusicology, the study of the relationship between human music and animal songs. Other interests include the traditional music of various cultures, community music-making, and music as a vehicle for social change. From 2011-2015 she played fiddle in the Seattle-area French Canadian traditional music and step dance band Podorythmie.
It was Doolittle’s orchestral work green/blue that opened the English Symphony Orchestra’s http://eso.co.uk concert under their Principal Conductor, Kenneth Woods http://kennethwoods.net at Hereford’s Shirehall (UK) on Sunday 7th February 2016 as part of a program that included Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, with Alexander Sitkovetsky www.alexandersitkovetsky.com as soloist and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.
Emily Doolittle’s green/blue was written for the Oregon East Symphony in 2003 and based in part on an earlier work, green notes, written for the Canadian baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik and taking advantage of the transparent textures of a group specialising in early music.
green/blue opened with bold, colourful chords before a solo violin took the theme with the other strings and the rest of orchestra joining to create a lovely harmony, pointed up by the woodblock. It had a distinctive North American rhythmic quality showing the composer’s interest in dance and traditional music. The music reached richer chords before rising to a peak with a myriad of orchestral colours. The rhythmic nature of the music increased before reaching a tremendous brilliance high in the orchestra. For all its repetition this was music that was constantly changing and evolving, perhaps in this sense reflecting nature. There were some fine moments for brass, before quietening to a brief pause to allow an oboe to bring a plaintive theme over the orchestra creating a quite wonderful texture. The other woodwind wove the theme around the oboe, before a sudden orchestral outburst, after which the theme from earlier in the work tentatively returned, building in tempo and dynamics throughout the orchestra and rising to a climax before another pause and a final chord.
This is an impressive work full of colour and ever evolving ideas.
Alexander Sitkovetsky immediately revealed his beautifully sweet tone in the Allegro molto appassionato of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64. Both orchestra and soloist brought a great energy and forward momentum to this spirited performance. The orchestra demonstrated its ability to bring weight yet with great transparency. Sitkovetsky brought great control of dynamics, a fine rubato and a powerful edge to his lovely tone with some wonderfully fleet passages as well as a beautifully shaped cadenza with moments of fine purity of tone and a beautifully affecting lead up to a quite thrilling coda.
There were some lovely instrumental textures from the orchestra as the Andante opened. Sitkovetsky brought a real singing quality to his tone as he entered, always finding the longer line, beautifully drawn and with the most sensitive accompaniment from Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra who allowed the music space to breathe.
Sitkovetsky brought a great feeling of freedom and impetuosity to the opening bars of the Allegretto non Troppo – Allegro molto vivace before dashing ahead through some scintillating passages, full of sparkle. There was a fine rapport between soloist and orchestra with Sitkovetsky bringing moments of wit and charm before a terrific coda.
This was a very fine performance from this brilliant young soloist with Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra on fine form.
Kenneth Woods drew a fine vigorous opening from the orchestra in the Allegro con brio of Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 in E flat major, Op.55 ‘Eroica’ with a crisp incisiveness and a great sense of panache and spirit, a real allegro brio. They provided a fine tautness and rubato combined with a great flow. There were many passages that brought a real Beethovenian incisiveness, a fine sweep and some lovely details. The Marcia funebre: Adagio assai was finely done with a real funereal weight over which the woodwind flowed. They brought a rather pastoral feel to the lovely central section whilst later showing how they can really let rip in the more dynamic passages.
They achieved a light textured, fleet Scherzo: Allegro vivace with finely controlled dynamics and a terrific forward drive, with some fine contributions from the three horn players and the woodwind section before leading quickly into the Finale: Allegro molto – Poco Andante – Presto with a beautifully phrased opening before finding a lovely flow with some very fine individual instrumental contributions. The orchestra soon whipped up real forward drive leading to some really fine climaxes before a finely wrought lead up to the coda.
This was a performance of great life and character which brought a real freshness to Beethoven’s vision. Kenneth Woods is clearly achieving fine results with the English Symphony Orchestra.
I was particularly pleased to hear the Emily Doolittle work in this concert and shall be shortly reviewing chamber works by this composer performed by the Seattle Chamber players on a new release from Composers Concordance Records www.composersconcordance.com
by Bruce Reader
Click here to read original review.
Cellophony at St Georges in Bristol
Friday 22nd January 2016
Friday 22nd January saw the triumphant return to St George’s of cello ensemble Cellophony - and this came just over a year after their last performance in Bristol. The London based cello octet has continued to develop a reputation for excellence with a strong presence on the European festival scene they have rapidly risen to establish themselves as the leading cello ensemble in the UK.
Cellophony played at St George's in Bristol on Friday 22 January 2016
Building on a body of work ranging from the traditional repertoire of the cello ensemble to a more diverse range of specially adapted arrangements they have demonstrated their dominance and have become the must see group.
Running at just over 70 minutes with no interval their performance within the glorious and unique setting for St George’s – one of the country’s leading concert halls- was bold, vigorous and enthralling.
The programme began with a specially adapted and spirited rendition of Villes-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No 1. This intriguing piece - the first in his series of 9 suites - is a seamless fusion of Brazilian folk and popular music with the characteristic stylings of Johann Sebastian Bach. A vivacious and lively, yet at times dark and brooding piece of music this was hauntingly brought to life by the mournful tone of 8 cellos blending together to provide a clear and vibrant sound.
This was followed by a scintillating take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, revised to be performed by 8 cellos and a violin, and the group were joined on stage by guest violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky. The best known of Vivaldi’s works, Four Seasons seeks to provide a musical expression of the seasons and takes the listener on a journey through the year.
Cellophony gave a beautiful rendition of this well -loved piece, poignant and moving in parts it was performed with skill and alacrity and a certain degree of theatrics. Alexander Sitkovetsky was sublime, coaxing note after awe-inspiring note from his violin and proving his very real talent, while never taking the limelight from the 8 cellists on stage with him.
A truly beautiful interpretation from the first, familiar notes of Spring through to the plaintive final sound of Winter, the St George’s audience were captivated. A delightful evening of music played out in an equally delightful setting.
Breath-taking, bold, dynamic and demonstrating incredible skill and flair, the sight and sound of this unusual grouping of 8 cellos is something that truly needs to be experienced to be believed.
by Sarah-Jane Howard
Click here to read original review.
Welcome surprise in Bradford from Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra
Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra – St George’s Hall
Thursday 4 December 2014
THE HALLE and touring Russian orchestras are frequent visitors to the Bradford International Orchestral Seasons but the third concert this year was a surprise and very welcome, from Belgium.
Founded in 1935, the orchestra from Brussels offered a conventional programme but commenced with the Polovtsian Dances, which have made Borodin's little-known opera Prince Igor better known, and ended with Saint-Saens’s little performed Organ Symphony. The only regular piece was the concerto, Sibelius' Violin Concerto, which received a shatteringly magnificent performance from a little-known Russian violinist, Alexander Sitkovetsky, but who will be returning in February next year with the Tchaikovsky in Leeds.
The Borodin is quite familiar mainly because its tunes were quoted in a popular musical, Kismet, in the Sixties. Saint-Saens is also known for a few quirks - the dying swan and the organ thumps in the symphony which came over well last week.
But the revelation of the concert was the 31 year-old Alexander Sitkovetsky's riveting playing of the violin concerto, so tense and compelling as to raise it above even the Beethoven and Brahms.
The concert season continues on January 4, with the Halle playing the New Year Celebration Viennese Concert.
St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra will play music by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius when they perform on February 13 with piano soloist Norika Ogawa.
The Halle, conducted by Sir Mark Elder and with Alisa Weilerstein as cello soloist, will return on March 20 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their first performance at St George’s Hall.
The Berne Symphony Orchestra and piano soloist Oliver Schnyder will perform music by Beethoven and Brahms on April 11.
Visit bradford-theatres.co.uk or call 01274 432000 to book tickets for any of the Bradford International Orchestral Season performances.
Isle of Wight Symphony
Shostakovich Violin Concerto
26th January 2013
Alexander Sitkovetsky, the soloist in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 (1948, revised 1955), is an amazing young man, who is undoubtedly destined for stardom. His range of tone and expression plus his remarkable technique combined to make a memorable performance that left the audience enthralled.
We were held spellbound from the sombre, almost despairing, opening movement (written at a time when the composer had just been denounced by Stalin for a second time) through a rhythmically exciting scherzo, a lyrical passacaglia, an incredibly long and complex cadenza to a frenzied finale. Read More
by Rene Mairis
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Alice Tully Hall
New York Times, November 22nd 2012
Bloch’s “Three Nocturnes,” written in 1924 and inspired by student performers, sounded sweet, simple and nostalgic in the hands of Mr. Bax, the violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and the cellist Jakob Koranyi. Those string players, joined by Mr. Kalish, ended the program with a vivid account of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D (“Ghost”), its surpassingly eerie Largo a colossal, shadowy gas giant around which two satellites called Allegro and Presto briskly orbited. Read More
by Steve Smith
Sala Filarmonica, Trento, Itala
Wu Qian Piano
25th October 2012
An impressive performance by two extremely talented young musicians at Trento, Italy. The Philarmonic Orchestra captivated by the Sitkovetski Duo.
Alexander Sitkovetsky and Wu Quian express supreme musical chemistry.
Last Wednesday, as part of the concert series of the Philarmonic Society of Trento, the Duo Sitkovestki delivered an outstanding concert from every point of view: two extraordinary talented musicians with mature interpretative skills at their peak, performed masterpieces from the great chamber music repertoire. Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Quian, having received a world class musical education, express supreme chemistry in their playing captivating any audiences appreciation, including music specialists.
In Beethoven's 3rd Violin Sonata (op.12) the thick pianistic writing dominates over the violin line lending to a "piano with violin accompaniment" type of writing. However, Wu's accurate touch on the Steinway piano brings uniformity to the two parts.
In Schumann's sonata op. 5 no.1 many technical tricks are present, especially in the first movement, with cyclical homorhythmic episodes : the violin is on the spotlight while the piano enchants in the remaining movements.
Alfred Schnittke's 'Suite in old style' follows the style of instrumental dances of the late Baroque/pre Classical period, enriching the program with a "retro" mood despite being a fairly recent composition. The César Franck Sonata in A major is a cornerstone of the late Romantic chamber music repertoire where its succes is justified by clever intuitions for thematic ideas and their developments present in the composition. Also broadly known to the public in the transcriptions for flute and cello, the original version enhances the distinctive features of the original instrument for which it was conceived.
Edward Elgar's 'Salut d’amour' op. 12 was wildly played thanks to the audience exuberant appraisal. The Sitkovetsky Duo concluded with the renowned piece of folkloric inspiration: Vittorio Mont's popular 'Csardas'.
Review translated from Italian.
Welsh National Opera Orchestra
Michael Klauza Conductor
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
April 17th 2012
Between the two, his Violin Concerto in D. This was a particularly memorable performance from the soloist, Alexander Sitkovetsky. His dazzling dexterity was mesmerising throughout, especially the way he handled the long cadenza with dynamic variety, ending arpeggios on the lightest harmonic with pin-point accuracy.
It was no wonder the audience broke out into spontaneous applause before the concerto continued with the gentler Adagio and the fireworks of the final movement, 'vivacissimo'.
Then, after the constant acclaim from the well-filled auditorium and in total contrast, he played the solo Sarabande from Partita D minor by Bach as an encore. Read More
by Eric Dare
But Tchaikovsky's vivacious Violin Concerto didn't only involve geographic exploration in its ideas, though it teemed with folk influences. As the Russian self-consciously strove to find a sense of form, so did the violin strive to seek its voice – and it is this very exploration that virtuoso Alexander Sitkovetsky underwent which rendered his interpretation both exciting and intuitive. Sitkovetsky's collected composure revealed a confident musicianship which allowed for a reflective lyricism and a love for his homeland. Balancing a grainy timbre with a purity that resonated perfectly in the higher register, the Menuhin prodigy was able to compensate for the hall's muffled tones. He blended beautifully with the rest of the orchestra, while maintaining distinction. This meant that intoxicating gypsy-like melodies danced from violin to wind, allowing the theme to evolve from capricious dances to pastoral reveries in the sweeping strings, then thundering into a majestic celebration that involved the entire ensemble… …I savoured the conflict between various moods. It met with a galvanizing calm in the Adagio however, with delicacy and tenderness before lurching into the allegro-vivacissimo of the concerto form that had an abruptly startling effect. At last, that formidable composure broke and the soloist unleashed a more vigorous persona, with flamboyant releases of the bow at the end of the flying passages…
By Lucy Armstrong
I Virtuosi Italiani
Wu Qian Piano
Haydn and Mendelssohn Double Concerto
March 25th 2012
Due solisti di talento: Sitkovetsky è elegante, Wu Qian brillante
Haydn ha scritto per strumenti vari, oggi quasi completamente ignorati nel repertorio corrente, come quello in la maggiore Melker Konzert per violino, affrontato da Sitkovetsky con bella e vivace animosità. Il giovane russo ha un bel suono, un violino che canta meravigliosamente (prerogativa nota per i russi in genere) in assoluta scioltezza e saldezza esecutiva. Una partitura di «passaggio», in bilico tra stile galante e classicismo, fra ornamentazioni e svolgimenti. La strada scelta da Sitkovetsky è una terza: quella dell'eleganza condita di sentimento, di canto,
Read more Translation to come!
European Union Chamber Orchestra
Hans Peter Hoffman Director
Mozart violin concerto no 3 in G Major
March 4th 2012
Every art form made into musical evening
It was a Mozart violin concerto (No 3 K 216) that introduced poetry. It began with a graceful dialogue, an especially charming conversation between the accomplished and intelligent Alexander Sitkovetsky and sensitive responses from Hans-Peter Hofmann's players.
From this storytelling we entered somewhere very special – such timeless serenity suggesting an extraordinarily lovely landscape.
Then into another form of poetry: light hearted yet tinged with darker hints, unpredictable and totally fresh – it was thoroughly Mozartian in fact.
by Richard Westcott
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Andrew Sewell Conductor
Beethoven Violin Concerto
February 24th and 25th 2012
WCO's 'Beloved Beethoven' provides plenty of food for thought
Alexander Sitkovetsky, the soloist, was especially convincing here. He employed a lovely rubato throughout, breathing life into both melodic passages and the extravagant passages designed to show off a soloist's skills. His final cadenza was dazzling, as much for its technical mastery as for its working through of the movement's ideas as he alternated between flashy arpeggios and double-stop versions of earlier motives. When he emerged from the cadenza, the re-statement of the theme had a knowing quality that registered a sense of significant change.
The second movement of the concerto has some of the ethereal, crystalline qualities more strongly associated with Beethoven's later period. Again I wish the orchestra had captured the strangeness of the halting opening more quickly, but they settled in and the soloists in the orchestra performed beautifully. Read More
by Jessica Courtier
Russian Violinist Amazes At Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
You've got to hand it to the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Year in and year out, it manages to attract fabulous musicians to the Capitol Theatre Stage at the Overture Center in Madison.
They aren't always the best-known musicians around, but once they play one concert here, they will be generally welcome to return any time.
So, it is with Russian-born violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky who thrilled his audience with Beethoven's "Violin Concerto In D Major" Friday night. It is a long piece – "Grace Notes" author Norman Gilliland says the first movement itself is as long as many other entire concertos. The mere act of standing before an audience and playing a violin for the better part of an hour takes a fair amount of stamina.
But Sitkovetsky did, providing a virtuoso performance while managing to interact continually with both the orchestra and the audience. The audience responded by leaping to its feet as he concluded the concerto and giving him a prolonged ovation. Read More
by William R. Wineke
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Bets on Beethoven … and Wins
Then it was on to Beethoven and the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 with guest artist Alexander Sitkovetsky. The 1806 work, roughly twice the length of other violin concertos of the day, was originally composed for Viennese theater violinist Franz Clement, but did not come into its own until Joseph Joachim’s performance under Felix Mendelssohn’s baton nearly 40 years later.
The three-movement work called for considerable energy and dexterity from the Moscow-born Sitkovetsky, who did not disappoint. The young performer delivered during both solo and orchestral passages… …the immediate standing ovation the artist received at the end of the 40-minute work…
…Sitkovetsky came back to the stage for a brief solo encore of a Bach Sarabande in D, which also received an enthusiastic response. Read More
Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra
Julia Jones Conductor
Saint Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
November 25th and 26th 2011
L'Alsace, December 7th
"This masterpiece ( Chausson's Poeme) was so much more moving because it benefitted from the talent of Alexander Sitkovetsky, an exceptional artist, who knew how to draw out from his violin both the strongest and most intimate feelings. One was able to hear the guest artist again in the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso which Saint-Saens composed for Sarasate . The music is refined, well-ordered and effective in it's genuine virtuosity and leaves an impression of grace rather than beauty. The instrumentalist had a feast"
DNA, December 16th
With the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra directed by the British conductor Julia Jones, Alexander Sitkovetsky brought back to life this fin de siècle ( end of the 19th century) universe, of quivering sensibility and exacerbated aestheticism, a universe of dreams, of tears and of roses. With the sublime Poeme, Ernest Chausson devotes himself to the taste of a very Art Nouveau type of antiqueness. The violinist gave to it a reading of brilliant lyricism, sensitive and communicative, with the support of an orchestra playing very softly. But it was in the irresistible Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso of Camille Saint -Saens that the young violinist aroused wide enthusiasm. An incandescent bow, a vertiginous left hand, heroic attacks: Sitkovestsky doesn't read he takes the assault; he doesn't play, he sets fire to this warhorse of the repertoire. Playing which was by turns ardent and dignified in Saint-Saens, dreamy and warm-hearted in Chausson.
by Pierre Chevreau
Melbourne Arts Festival with Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra
Maxim Rysanov Viola/Conductor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mozart Sinfonia Concertante
The Age Newspaper, October 16th
The Mozart masterpiece proved memorable, chiefly for then soloists' muted vehemence and an exemplary interplay, Sitkovetsky's steely security expertly balanced by Rysanov's lithe, full-bodied colour.
by Clive O'Connell
The Australian Newspaper, October 17th
The highlight arrived post-interval when Rysanov paired with talented young Russian violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky in a robust account of the Sinfonia Concertante. Matched in tone and temperament, the artists relished the interplay between solo lines.
by Eamonn Kelly
Artshub.com, October 16th
After the interval, the audience settled in for the main work: Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra. Rysanov at first took up a conductor stance, facing the orchestra, but very soon joined violinist Sitkovetsky in the first of their duet passages. It was interesting to see the two stringed instruments side by side, the viola appearing much larger than the violin, and their sound being so different – as between a soprano and a mezzo.
The performers executed a brilliant cadenza at the end of the first movement, in perfect synch while playing presto. Each of the three movements was rounded off in this way.
The second movement seemed infused with Eastern European ‘soul’ and was also remarkable for the empathy between all players. In particular the dynamics were very well realised (considering that the leader was busy with his own part in the work). This was a well-rehearsed ensemble, showing the benefits of its long association with Rysanov.
The closing movement was pure Mozart, the winds and brass contributing a light but complementary sound to the strings, all at the cracking pace of the presto. The final duet seemed like great fun, with the ensemble going along for the ride. It made for a great finish – and when an encore was demanded, they played the complete final movement again. Needless to say, the concert finished to rousing “bravos” for these very welcome visitors to the Melbourne Festival.
by Suzanne Yanko
Last Night of the Autumn Proms
Birmingham Symphony hall
London Concert Orchestra
John Rigby Conductor
Redbrick Paper, October 1st 2011
Pachelbell’s Canon and Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending were among the more sober of the offerings from the orchestra; the latter of which was performed with commendable beauty and expertise by the young Russian soloist Alexander Sitkovetsky. His brilliance was not confined to this one piece; he demonstrated his technical prowess once again in his interpretation of Sarasate’s Zigeunerwisen – a piece which demands flamboyant virtuosos alongside incredible pace.
by Lexie Wilson