Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Morgan Szymanski at Dartington

Bob Smissen / Devon / Kenneth Sillito / Morgan Szymanski / Philip R Buttall / Stephen Orton / Totnes

It would be so easy to think that a world-renowned ensemble, touring the same programme around the country, and one which, though absolutely charming, is perhaps not excessively stressful, might occasionally switch into automatic mode.

Not so the strings of St Martin in the Fields. From their body language and interaction, it was so obvious from the very first note, that each player was still really enjoying making music, and the resulting sound, enhanced by the glorious acoustic, was simply breathtaking throughout.

Yes they can command all the best players around, with such immense strengths as violist, Bob Smissen, and the rich fruity tone of cellist, Stephen Orton.

In director, Kenneth Sillito, they could simply find no better, both in his wonderfully expressive playing, and assured, yet so persuasively unassuming leadership.

And, with such eminent crowd pleasers as Grieg’s Holberg Suite, a Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras, the delicious E flat Serenade by Joseph Suk, and Morgan Szymanski’s delicately-crafted reading of Vivaldi’s D major Guitar Concerto, this was always going to be a concert to die for.

But the specially-commissioned Guitar Concerto by Alec Roth eventually stole the show, for here was a brand new contemporary work which was not only perfectly formed, but was such a delight to hear – if only all of today’s so-called composers would show such consideration, and respect for their listeners’ intellect.


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