City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Swiss Ambassador's Award Concert, Balmoral Hotel, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 28 October 2015

Show Details
Balmoral Hotel
Swiss Cultural Fund UK
Winkelman, Praeludium; J S Bach, Sonata No 2 in D major BWV 1028; Winkelman, Intermezzo 1; Schumann, Fünf Stücke im Volkston, Op 1012; Winkelman, Intermezzo 2; Piazzolla, Le Grand Tango.
Viviane Chassot (accordion), David Pia (cello)
Running time: 

It was a privilege to be invited once again to the annual Swiss Ambassador’s Award Concert which is the show case for the year’s winners of the competition among young Swiss musicians. The reception before the concert where business attire is the order of the day gave considerable gravitas to the event.

There were two points that made this concert of more than usual interest - the combination of classical accordion and cello and the three pieces composed as preludes to the substantial works on their programme. Born in Switzerland in 1974, composer Helena Winkelman had been commissioned to write music to be played ahead of each of the established composer’s works - Bach, Schumann and Piazzolla. It was a pleasure to hear cellist, David Pia, explain this to us at the outset.

Helena Winkelman’s Preludium started disconcertingly with the cellist banging his hand on his Stradivarius of 1698 and accordionist, Viviane Chassot, on her rare custom made Italian Bugari Omnia. But as it went along the work was a helpful introit to the Bach sonata originally composed for viola da gamba and then with a full harpsichord part - and it was this part the accordion so well fitted.

Winkelman’s Intermezzo 1, with no banging, was a worthy prelude to Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style. After a momentary interval when we missed the programme’s promised Mauler Swiss sparling wine, although this came at the end, Winkelman’s Intermezzo 2 was more lively and again a mood introducer for Argentinian composer and accordionist, Astor Piazzolla. His Le Grand Tango of 1982 was composed towards the end of his life and initially intended as a piece of classical music for cello and piano. Indeed it was dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich who eight years later realised its considerable merit, and is now considered Piazzolla’s masterpiece. It was such a shame that cello and accordion just missed to time the final majestic note perfectly. Never mind it was a worthy concert, all the more realising they had played in recent days as part of their award at London’s Wigmore Hall, in Cardiff and in Belfast before ending up with Edinburgh.

No doubt the Balmoral Hotel will be checking the electrical connection of the prominent eighteen light chandelier which in its dimming and brightening was a distraction.

Concert: Tuesday 27th October 2015 at 7.30pm

Photos: Irene Zandel©Viviane Chassot, Christiane Schneier© David Pia