Blenheim Concerts: Maria Oldak and James Baillieu

Phoebe Woollam reviews performance by two extraordinarily mature young musicians

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Blenheim Concerts


The next concert in the series will be on Sunday 15th November
at 3.30 pm in the Chiswick Catholic Centre.
Erica Simpson: ‘Cello and Carys Hughes: Harp will play a programme to include works by Bach, Faure, Rachmaninov, Eccles, Glinka and Saint-Saens.

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On Sunday 13th September Blenheim Concerts hosted a recital given by two extraordinarily mature young musicians.

Maria Oldak is an exceptional young Polish violinist who is already making a considerable name for herself in this country and in Europe. She graduated with a first class honours degree from the Academy of Music in Warsaw and then continued her studies as a post-graduate at London’s Royal Academy of Music. It was here that she met the outstanding South African pianist James Baillieu who was also on the post graduate course and already establishing himself as a soloist and accompanist in this country, Europe and South Africa. They now play regularly together and have a busy concert schedule.

They opened their programme with the charming Sonatina in D major Op, 137 No. 1, D 384 by Schubert. This was everything it should have been; a sophisticated, controlled performance, delightfully played with appropriate dynamic detail, never over stated.

Next there was a complete change of mood with four pieces from Suite Populaire Espagnole by De Falla (arranged by Kochanski): El Pano Moruno, Nana, Asturionas and Pollo. This was a lovely arrangement with the beautiful lyricism of Nana contrasting with the fiery passages elsewhere typical of the Spanish genre.

Roxana’s Song from Prince Igor Op. 46 by Szymanowski (arranged by Kochanski) was a very successful transcription of a solo aria. In fact, in many ways it was more convincing heard on the violin. It was exceptionally beautiful and the hauntingly tragic melody was conveyed with great sensitivity by both players.

After the interval we heard the massive Sonata in A major by Franck. This is a daunting piece with a phenomenally difficult piano part demanding a more than reliable technique; (the violin part is no push-over either!) Both players rose to the occasion magnificently and gave a truly memorable performance, musically outstanding and technically first-rate. A suitable ending to a wonderful recital.

Phoebe Woollam


September 15, 2009