Brilliant Young Orchestra performs at Siam Bayshore

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If for some reason, you didn’t show up at the concert at Siam Bayshore Hotel on Monday 15th December, you missed a rich and rewarding musical experience. Sometimes a concert is so memorable that the music stays in your mind for days, even weeks afterwards. This concert was such an event. It was given by the internationally-known ZHdK Strings, a highly talented and dynamic young string ensemble from Switzerland which includes some of the most gifted graduates from Zurich University of the Arts. It was presented by D & M Music Studio Bangkok, in cooperation with Siam Ratchada Music School.

The sheer technical achievement of the players was remarkable. Their sizzling performance of the well-known Mozart Divertimento for Strings K136 showed their acute sense of rhythm and ensemble. Mozart wrote the work when he was about fifteen and it shows many of the features of his mature style. Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in A Minor Op.3 No.8 was given a spirited performance by the superb young violinists Olivia Momoyo Resch and Sachiko Uchida who demonstrated brilliantly articulated passage work in the fast movements and a lovely measured, thoughtful reading of the lyrical Larghetto.

This concert was given by the internationally-known ZHdK Strings, a highly talented and dynamic young string ensemble from Switzerland which includes some of the most gifted graduates from Zurich University of the Arts.This concert was given by the internationally-known ZHdK Strings, a highly talented and dynamic young string ensemble from Switzerland which includes some of the most gifted graduates from Zurich University of the Arts.

The members of this string ensemble all live in Switzerland and represent sixteen different nationalities – including Thailand. The orchestra was superbly directed by Rudolf Koelman, a fine concert violinist who is professor of solo and concert violin at the Zurich University of the Arts (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste). This University, also known as ZHdK, has about 2,500 students and is the largest arts university in Switzerland.

The programme also included a fascinating early work by Mendelssohn, the rarely performed String Symphony No.9 in C major written when he was only fourteen years old, though hearing his sophisticated use of string sonorities and surprising use of chromaticism you’d never guess. Elgar’s ever-popular Serenade for Strings in E Minor Op.20 was given a delightful performance and the lyrical slow movement was profoundly moving with careful dynamic control and a wonderful sense of phrasing.

The members of this string ensemble all live in Switzerland and represent sixteen different nationalities - including Thailand.The members of this string ensemble all live in Switzerland and represent sixteen different nationalities – including Thailand.

The last item on the programme was Grieg’s lovely Holberg Suite for Strings Op.40, based on eighteenth century dances. The ZHdK strings were on top form and one member of the audience remarked that it was the best performance of the work that he’d ever heard. The fast opening movement zipped along while the slow Sarabande was touchingly expressive and beautifully timed. The dynamics and the phrasing were perfectly controlled throughout and the inner parts could be heard clearly. The very dry acoustic of the hall – usually rather a challenge for string players – revealed the superb precision of the ensemble especially in one of their encore pieces, the famous Hungarian Dance No 5 by Brahms.

This string orchestra was the best I’ve ever heard in Pattaya. I think what impressed me most was not only the richness of string tone that these young musicians produced, but also the innate sense of musicianship that came through clearly in everything they played.