Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Violinist Max Baillie performing at the Crown House

Baillie’s feast of music

Graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School, virtuoso violinist Max Baillie served up a sumptuous feast of music, at the Crown House, on Tuesday evening. Laurie Temple savoured every morsel.

In contrast to Baillie’s traditional classical concerts at Christ Church in London Road, this was an eclectic musical project that he described as, a ‘classical hotpot’ of music in the beautiful and intimate setting of Crown House on the seafront in St Leonards.

The evening was curated by star cellist and former BBC Young Musician, Laura Van der Heiden, alongside award-winning bass player, Misha Mullov-Abbado, and the incredible cymbalom virtuoso, Marcel Comendant, with, of course, Max Baillie on violin.

This band, some of the most creative and gifted musicians of their generation, took us on an evocative journey through folk, jazz, baroque and contemporary music.

The exciting programme, ranging from Ravel and Bartok to Manuel de Falla, De La Guerre, Bach and Brahms, also included some of Abass’s jazzy compositions, plus a beautiful rendition of Joabim’s Nature Boy, sung by Laura Van der Heijden.

The evening opened with Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, written in 1915, originally as a piano piece, and then reworked two years later for orchestra. These pieces were inspired by Romanian folk dance and moved from slowly haunting to exciting dancing rhythms, each movement being very short and the entire piece only lasting five minutes, but played with great vibrant energy by the musicians.

In contrast, then came the beautiful and enticing melodies of Manuel de Falla’s Spanish songs, followed by an exquisite medley of Bach and Bartok, the latter’s music taken from his 44 Duos for Two Violins.

As Max Baillie pointed out, these two composers brought out different aspects of one another, with Bartok bringing out the folksy side of Bach’s three-part inventions.

In the second half, the music of Gyorgy Kurtag provided another delightful texture, with his duos for cimbalom and violin. The cimbalom, a Hungarian hammered dulcimer, played quite magically by Marcel Comendant, provided amazing textures and sounds that ranged from piano to harpsichord to electric organ!

De La Guerre’s Violin Sonata followed, dancing with rhythm and contrapuntal conversations, as well as many surprising harmonic moments to savour.

This was a veritable smorgasbord of music, which satisfied the many different tastes of the audience members, who stood as one to applaud the final piece of music, a fabulous rendition of Brahms Hungarian Dances, composed while he was living in Vienna.

At the end, Max Baillie reminded the audience to join the St Leonards concerts mailing list, to be kept informed of the many exciting classical and eclectic projects that he is bringing to Hastings for our pleasure! You can join the mailing list here.

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Posted 13:21 Monday, Oct 9, 2023 In: Performance

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