Wednesday 1 June 2022

Real music-making of the highest standards: the Swiss youth orchestra "il mosaico" is caught on tour in Italy by composer Edward Lambert

Jugendorchester Il Mosaico
Jugendorchester Il Mosaico

Beethoven: Egmont Overture, Brahms' Piano Concerto No 2; Liu Pinxin, Jugendorchester Il Mosaico, Hermann Ostendarp; Auditorium Sant’Agostino
, Cortona, Italy

Reviewed 28 May 2022, by Edward Lambert

Composer Edward Lambert catches the Swiss youth orchestra, il mosaico, on tour in Italy with some impressive music making from the young players

A shout out to the Youth Orchestra "il mosaico” from the St. Gallen area of Switzerland. It’s been in existence for many years and by 2000 it was acknowledged as the leading youth symphony orchestra in the country. I caught them at a recent concert in Cortona, Italy (28 May 2022) in the beautiful surroundings of the deconsecrated church of Sant’Agostino as part of an Italian tour that had been arranged to replace one to Ukraine. 

This bunch of excellent young musicians are nothing if not enterprising: a previous exchange with the Chamber Music Centre of New York resulted in a virtual collaboration during lockdown in which they recorded a ‘Zoom’ of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, chosen for its mix of tragedy and hope. This work opened their Italian concerts. Any apprehensions about youthful abilities were quickly forgot: even with players as young as ten, there were no lapses of intonation here, phrasing was well articulated and dynamic contrasts were strong, often powerful. 

The first violin section, though small in number, were perfectly formed. As with some of the UK’s county youth orchestras, the organisation also boasts four training orchestras and the performers’ cumulative experience was evident. Their musical director is Hermann Ostendarp, a violinist who trained with John Holloway (leader of the Taverner Players and London Classical Players) and this showed, for the string coaching was evidently in professional hands. The wind, perhaps because of the seating layout and the auditorium’s acoustics, were less detailed but sounded equally assured. 

Real music-making of the highest standards was to be had in Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto which followed, with the young Liu Pinxin as the formidable soloist. This most symphonic of all concertos drew the best out of this talented group and the partnership between soloists and orchestra was fluent and intense. Special mention to the cello soloist in the third movement, Nathalie Hauser, while throughout, Ms Pinxin’s economy of style belied the strength and drama of her playing.
(Edward Lambert)

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