Review: Marlborough College Concert Series

Marlborough College Concert Series – Sunday 20 January 2019
Jennifer Pike (violin) with Jeremy Pike (piano)

In 2002, I was privileged to be a member of the jury on BBC Young Musician of the Year when we awarded the coveted first prize to the 12-year-old violinist Jennifer Pike. I remember thinking at the time that, all things being equal, a glittering career beckoned, and so it’s proved. It was therefore a huge thrill to welcome Jennifer to our beautiful concert series here in Marlborough some 18 years later and to have the absolute pleasure of hearing her as a mature and well-established artist.

The programme she chose was excellent and fabulously eclectic. In fact, it had everything from the purity of Bach, (where Jennifer resisted any temptation to over romanticise – vibrato was sparse), to the magical and mystical world of Szymanowski, pausing for a salute to her father in a work by him entitled Aphelion. Her father, Jeremy, was also on hand to provide the most sympathetic and delicate accompaniment throughout the recital and that was special. There were fireworks too. Jennifer has an enviable dexterity and facility and these were very much on show in both the Wieniaswki Legende and Saint-Saëns’ evergreen Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, which brought this masterclass in performance to a close.

We were also treated to the original version of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending (violin and piano) which incidentally is the most requested piece on Desert Island Discs and the most played work on Classic FM. It’s easy to see why.

Altogether, then, a breathtaking and moving recital. I wonder whether, somewhere out there, a little 12-year-old violinist is waiting in the wings to emerge. They will need to be good to better Jennifer Pike.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director

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