Brilliant young Swedish orchestra makes Pattaya debut

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An enthusiastic audience greeted international violinist Hugo Ticciati and the superb O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Sunday, Oct. 25.  Presented by D & M Music Studio in cooperation with Yamaha Ratchadapisek Music School, the concert marked the Pattaya debut of the orchestra which only the day before had given a successful concert in Hua Hin.

From the opening bars of the Royal Anthem it was clear that this was no ordinary ensemble, for the tone was rich and compelling and the much-loved melody was played with a rare sense of musicianship and perception.

Internationally acclaimed violinist Hugo Ticciati (right) led the orchestra through an entertaining programme of traditional and improvised classical pieces.

The programme was introduced by Mongkol Chayasirisobhon of D & M Music Studio and the orchestra kicked off with Liana Svensson’s effectively scored arrangements of Swedish folk melodies, the first one a haunting melody that brought back memories of the old British ballad Scarborough Fair and the second one, a wonderfully sprightly hoe-down kind of dance with an infectious foot-tapping rhythm.  It made a lively start to the concert.

The orchestra includes some of the top young players in Sweden.  The name O/Modernt means “unmodern” and it’s the resident orchestra at Musikaliska in Stockholm and an integral part of the Swedish O/Modernt Music Festival.  It specialises in adventurous programmes that take a refreshing new approach to classical music performance, sometimes with an element of surprise or improvisation.  For example, the second work on the programme was an unusual version of The Four Seasons which included movements from Vivaldi’s famous work blended in with movements from another composition with a similar name (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) by the Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla.  It’s a work that draws on jazz and Argentinean dance music for its inspiration and contrasts intensely rhythmic passages with dark, brooding moments that seem to transport the listener to the forests of South America.  The Vivaldi movements contained many virtuosic passages which were played with terrific panache and remarkable precision by Hugo and his colleagues.

The O-Modernt Chamber Orchestra with Mongkol Chayasirisobhon, Tanyalux Luanghvisut (Yamaha Music School) and Hugo Ticciati.

Hugo Ticciati has a remarkable technical ability and draws a clear and vibrant tone from his 1751 Guadagnini violin.  He made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the age of twelve and in recent years has performed with many international orchestras.  Incidentally, his younger brother Robin is Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and in 2017 he will become Music Director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester in Berlin.

The second half of the concert opened with an improvisation by the orchestra which seemed to evoke gipsy songs and Eastern European dances and it blended into a haunting work by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.  Silouan’s Song was composed in 1991 and based on a text by St. Silouan, a twentieth-century monk at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon in Greece.

Hugo Ticciati (left) chats with Mongkol Chayasirisobhon.

Then another surprise, because without a break the orchestra launched into the slow introduction that opens Tchaikovsky’s popular Serenade for Strings.  The Waltz, which forms the second movement, was given an elegant performance with impeccable phrasing and a captivating sense of rhythm.  The slow movement was profoundly moving with moments of sublime beauty and I noticed several of the audience discreetly reaching for their handkerchiefs.  The bustling Finale showed some finely articulated playing and the repeat of the slow introduction was powerful indeed.

But it was the wide range of tone colours that I found so compelling.  At one moment there might be wonderfully luminous, ethereal sound that was almost inaudible and at another moment a rich, sonorous tone that sounded as though it came from an orchestra twice the size.  I can only say that in my years of listening to music, this is probably one of the finest string orchestras I’ve heard.  These young musicians have a wonderful sense of style and it was delightful to see so much shared enjoyment between the musicians.  They clearly love what they do – and it shows.