Press Reviews 2012

On Cambo Potato Barn:

“Drenched to the skin in Holland Park, chilled to the bone at Garsington, I met my Waterloo at the East Neuk Festival in borrowed wellies. Only five days long, this boutique festival offers events ranging from high-minded chamber music in pristine churches to hallucinatory plainsong in a potato barn, the latest of several unusual venues to be explored by director Svend Brown. The barn on the Cambo Estate is a working barn, made of corrugated iron and surrounded by mud. But in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s programme of Pärt, Ruggles, Barber, MacMillan and Shostakovich’s music for strings and brass, it became an antiphonal memorial to the Dresden bombing, and in Theatre of Voices’ programme of chants by Hildegarde of Bingen, a cloister suffused by ecstatic visions of the Holy Land.”
Independent on Sunday 8 July 2012

“…the corrugated iron barn was an undoubted success”
The Times 3 July 2012

“The week’s incessant rain churned up a field of soggy mud and the barn’s great metal doors clanged boisterously in the wind. But key concern was whether the acoustics would work. By and large they did. They worked best for the singers: Theatre [of Voice]’s four female voices soared with warmth and immediacy in a late night programme of Hildegard von Bingen.”
The Herald 2 July 2012

“…sheer magic – an uninterrupted sequence of music on the theme of ‘Fire and Water’ played like an antiphonal spat between the alternating brass and strings of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra… The later programme, featuring Paul Hillier’s ambulant Theatre of Voices, was for the most part a moving, seamless sequence of plainsong, mainly by the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen… exquisitely sung and exotically underscored by Andrew Lawrence-King on harp.”
The Scotsman 2 July 2012

“…one can relax in the knowledge that the best classical music will be played by the world’s best performers in a festival Svend describes as “small but world class.”
The Courier 30 June 2012

On Hagen Quartet playing Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 132:

“Thunderous applause and stamping of feet greeted the final sweep of the Presto – an indication that the audience had witnessed something special yet again. But then, isn’t that what the East Neuk Festival is all about?
The Courier 30 June 2012

On Llyr Williams:

“East Neuk’s audience is too discerning to be dazzled by novelty alone. After Llyr Williams’s poised, intense reading of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas in Crail Church, there were detailed comparisons between his interpretation and those of Alfred Brendel and Paul Lewis. When the sun shines in Fife, it is glorious indeed.”
Independent on Sunday 8 July 2012

“…altogether breathtaking… These [Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words] were absorbing to the last, packed with immaculately considered poeticism, but unleashed with lightning sparks of spontaneity… Williams’ recital on Saturday encompassing the last three piano sonatas [Beethoven], conveyed the same intellectual intensity.”
The Scotsman 2 July 2012

“…he brought heartfelt dignity and poise to these gentle pieces [Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words]. A fitting end to a fine festival.”
The Guardian 4 July 2012

“… Williams’s performances were profoundly moving. This was breathtakingly candid playing, deep-felt conviction in every nuance but never remotely maudlin. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words were forthright in their lyricism; the third-movement choral theme of Beethoven’s Op 109 graceful in its simplicity, the first waltz variation heart-wrenchingly tender. The fugue of Op. 110 was poised and noble and in Mendelssohn’s fugue the next night, the emergence of a chorale from the dense contrapuntalism was humbly, humanly triumphal. Williams communicates from and to the heart because he doesn’t burden his message with extras. Such unadorned sincerity is disarmingly powerful.”
The Herald 4 July 2012

“I wish the East Neuk Festival organisers would stop doing this to me. Not long after I’ve come away from a concert thinking it was the best ever and unlikely to be matched or bettered, they provide an equally delicious feast of music that calls for a whole new set of superlatives. I had just recovered from Llyr Williams’ sensational Beethoven sonata exhibition on Saturday night, when along he comes on Sunday evening, at the same venue of Crail Church, with a display of Mendelssohn Songs Without Words that defied description. Sublime style, inspired interpretation and tremendous technique seem inadequate.”
The Courier 5 July 2012

On SCO Strings:

“Violinist Alexander Janiczek led with voracious drive and a healthy dose of risk-taking; occasional rough edges were traded for a thrilling rawness and an infectious blithe spirit… You’d be hard-put finding better wind ensemble playing… As individuals, they play with the forthrightness of orchestral principals; as a group, they share nuances as instinctive chamber musicians.”
The Guardian 3 July 2012

“This Festival evokes an intimacy that is quite unique”
Scots Magazine May 2012