Press Reviews 2013

Location, location, location. Long before estate agents invented their mantra, the best music festivals knew the value of combining special places with strong programmes, giving listeners a chance to recharge away from the big metropolitan centres. Yet few manage it with such originality as the East Neuk Festival.
John Allison, Sunday Telegraph 14.7.13

Since 2004 a handful of small, picturesque towns have hosted a five-day chamber music bash that combines a pithy sense of locale with international standards – giving East Neuk true festival status in a musical market-place full of imposters…
Andrew Clark, Financial Times 5.7.13

…possibly East Neuk’s most imaginative festival yet.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 8.7.13

A large and enthusiastic crowd from toddlers to senior citizens flocked to the event [Inuksuit], creating a joyful atmosphere of excitement and expectation… In staging these two ambitious works [Adams’ Inuksuit and songbirdsongs], the festival… provided what must surely count as two of this summer’s most magical and memorable musical experiences.
David Kettle, Edinburgh Reporter 10.7.13

While there’s plenty of ancient history here, a visit each July will find it defiantly in dialogue with the present, as local churches, gardens and even a potato barn are taken over by the sounds of the East Neuk Festival.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk 9.7.13

Tokyo String Quartet

The sublime still beauty of the quartet’s interpretation of this piece [Webern String Quartet in E] is something which will live on, even in their retirement
Carol Main, The Scotsman 5.7.13

One of these chamber music moments that will live long, with the quartet joined by the SCO’s David Watkin for Schubert’s “double cello” C major quintet. This was truly exceptional, with the interpretation of all five players outstanding.
Garry Fraser, The Courier 5.7.13

… it [Webern String Quartet in E] was beautifully integrated and often playful rather than austere… the final notes of Webern will live long in the memory.
Keith Bruce, The Herald 5.7.13

The Tallis Scholars

Where Taverner’s raw ingenuity gave brazen pleasure, Tallis’ Lamentations provided a sultry spiritual heat. Phillips’ singers fed its distinctive lines and evocative dissonances with delicate nuance and a natural, probing musicality.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 6.7.13

…the converted barn works well as a bigger and more flexible addition to East Neuk’s regular fleet of picturesque Presbyterian churches. The Tallis Scholars filled the spacer with Taverner’s Missa Corona Spinea; such direct acoustics might intimidate lesser singers, but their revelation of vocal colour was ravishing. Chamber music remains the backbone of East Neuk Festival’s programme and the excellent young Elias Quarter was in residence this year. They’re an earnestly committed group that throws no note away.
Kate Molleson, The Guardian 10.7.13

They carry you up with them to the highest heights, and you never once fear being dropped. In Tallis’s Lamentations too, the Scholars unpicked the knot of his harmonies with purposeful and focused dexterity, and a completely spotless anonymity.
Rosenna East, The Herald 8.7.13

John Luther Adams Inuksuit & songbirdsongs

There can be few works of art that declare their ecological message with quite such power and persuasion: that we are all bit-parts of a whole, that there is latent energy in natural space.
Kate Molleson The Guardian 10.7.13

The excellent Red Note Ensemble gave it [songbirdsongs] fanatical attention. A refreshing twist for a festival that seems, in the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, to have found its niche.
Sarah Urwin Jones, The Times 11.7.13

A sensation… the overall effect was a mystical was of sound whisked around by the strong breeze, which ultimately embedded itself in the natural ambiance of this beautiful garden. Musically it had a tangible shape – a giant palindrome. But as an experience it was something you simply allowed to saturate the senses.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 8.7.13

Music and nature mingled to brilliant and memorable effect in Inuksuit… the piece slowly subsided to a bewitching conclusion of birdsong fragments played on tinkling glockenspiels and crotales, while the sounds of the gorgeous Cambo garden – the burbling river, wind in the tress, and the voices of the birds themselves – gradually took over again… As the piece gradually headed towards silence, listeners slowly gravitated towards the last remaining players, keen to hold onto the final vestiges of this enchanting experience.
David Kettle, Edinburgh Reporter 10.7.13

It’s confrontingly primal…but for all the score’s inherent freedoms, there’s nothing anarchic about Inuksuit. Perhaps this was the careful direction of Bang On A Can’s Steve Schick, but the generous abstraction of the concept invites listeners to fill it with narrative, while keeping the musical structure simple enough to act as scaffolding to any number of stories.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk 9.7.13

A superb introduction to the composer’s practice and an indication of how far the East Neuk Festival has developed from its modest chamber music in churches beginning nine years ago. The biggest event of a packed day at Cambo, Inuksuit was an experience clearly appreciated as much by some very attentive young people as older music lovers.
Keith Bruce, The Herald 8.7.13

Thomas Carroll, cello

…deft, darkly resonant performances
Andrew Clark, Financial Times 5.7.13

Elias String Quartet

Beethoven Quartet No 13 in B-flat major, Op.130 – calibrated minutely to allow for the weightier finale, building fro the throwaway wit and ebullience of the Presto into a measured Andante before striping all right back for the Cavatine, flaying us bare in preparation for the fugue.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk

The quartet’s collective sound seems particularly suited to the music of Robert Schumann… The Elias captured the music’s aching loveliness as well as its emotion, setting up the Beethoven to follow.
Keith Bruce, The Herald 8.7.13

Beethoven’s Op.130, complete with the Grosse Fuge finale, showed the ensemble’s striving side, and Schumann’s First and Third Quartets displayed its warmly lyrical sound. Best of all, in their seaside concert at St Monans, was the intense rapture of the Intimate Letters of Janáček.
John Allison, Sunday Telegraph 14.7.13

Janáček’s Intimate Letters and Schumann’s Third Quartet in St Monans Church… saw this impressive quartet at its most musically persuasive.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 6.7.13

Christian Zacharias

No visit to East Neuk is complete without a Christian Zacharias recital… a masterclass of reason, temperament, imagination and integrity in his majestic rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 12. That alone would have been worth traveling to the furthest corner of the land.
Andrew Clark, Financial Times 5.7.13

Billed as An Afternoon with Christian Zacharias, the East Neuk Festival could have added to this title, ‘in a B-minor mood”… It was enlightening and provoking – a masterly presentation.
Rosenna East, The Herald 8.7.13

Zacharias plays with seemingly effortless ease giving this music (Schubert’s Moments Musicaux) a lovely flow and emotional complexity it rarely has. A wonderful concert fully appreciated by a packed audience.
Alex Graham, The Big Issue 8.7.13

Zacharias’ keyboard performance was measured, sympathetic and beautifully structures and his exchanges between the Elias were perfectly balanced.
Garry Fraser, The Courier 6.7.13

Scottish Chamber Orchestra & Christian Zacharias

With the evocative solo horn opening – the sensitive virtuosity of Alec Frank-Gemmil in Messiaen’s Appel Interstallair – and the verdant orchestral warmth of Honegger and Ravel, and Zacharias’s perceptively clean and colourful reading of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony, the curtain fell on possibly East Neuk’s most imaginative festival yet.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 8.7.13

Certainly the sound of the SCO really glowed in the space – especially in Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, where Zacharias drew rich, bass-heavy strings and round, reedy winds… But the birdsong-themed programme opened with a stunning performance of Appel Interstellair, a movement for solo horn from Messiaen’s huge orchestral work Des canyons aux étoiles – in which SCO principal horn Alec Frank-Gemmill made the instrument dart, wail and flutter as if those were normal things for a French horn to do.
Kate Molleson, The Herald 9.7.13

From the first notes of Messiaen’s Appel Interstellair with the haunting horn of star performer Alex Frank-Gemmill ringing out across space, to the final chords of Beethoven’s glorious Pastoral Symphony, this is clearly and orchestra right at the top of its game, playing with finesse and consummate control…a most enjoyable concert and a perfect ending to yet another successful festival.
Alex Graham, The Big Issue 8.7.13

Elias String Quartet

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Percussionist rehearsing for John Luther Adams' Songbirdsong in Cambo Barn © Paul Watt

Percussionist rehearsing for John Luther Adams’ Songbirdsong in Cambo Barn © Paul Watt

Scottish Chamber Orchestra image

SCO in Cambo Barn

Percussion from John Luther Adams' Inuksuit, performed in Cambo Gardens

Percussion from John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit, performed in Cambo Gardens

Cambo Gardens bridge

Cambo Gardens bridge

Christian Zacharias, image © Klaus Rudolph

Christian Zacharias, image © Klaus Rudolph