International Chamber Music Festival in Stavanger.

The Stavanger chamber music festival is well under way. The level of performances seems to have reached a higher level than ever before, with panegyric reviews in Norwegian press. Especially the level of the various performing ensembles has been highlighted, but also of course individual brilliance, for there are soloists in Stavanger of world class format; both Norwegian and international names.

Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz

Already the opening concert on Monday, captained by the festival’s musical hosts the Grieg trio, gave promise of something truly out of the ordinary. Works by Mendelssohn, Ravel and Brahms were performed, featuring Isa Gerike and Håvard Gimse and Auryn string quartet among others. Of Gerike’s performance critics used phrasings like a “young breakthrough”, while the concert in general was described as “chamber music of great format”.

Tuesday featured a designated Grieg gala, and a late night candlelight Schubert concert also made deep impressions, with the audience responding completely to the magical setting in the Stavanger Cathedral and to the exquisite performances by Håvard Gimse and Vebjørn Anvik on the piano, Kolja Lessing on violin, and the Auryn String Quartet.

Wednesday saw a special concert at the Utstein monastery –a unique event that had been sold out for weeks in advance. The Gaz de France sponsored concert featured works by Debussy and Ravel and took place in spectacular surroundings at the medieval monastery on the island Mosterrøy.
Also on Wednesday, the two concerts in the Stavanger Cathedral have afterwards been singled out as experiences to truly underscore the impressive level of the ensembles in action:
The critics call the hosting Grieg Trio, the finest piano trio in the Nordic region, Auryn string quartet are hailed for remarkable interpretations, but most praise of all the ensembles befalls Stavanger’s own SSO contemporary, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary division, which says something of Stavanger’s format as a host city for such a festival.

But the musical apex so far, was, according to the critics from the major dailies, Thursday night’s concert with Japanese violinist Midori, whose performances of Brahms, Bloch, Schubert and Schumann were “luminously expressive, from the inaudible to the intense, indicating a higher firmament than usual for the repertoire”, in the words of Dagbladet’s critic.

And still we are only half way through the festival. The weekend will feature a string of renowned names such as Ole Edvard Antonsen and Elizabeth Norberg-Schultz and not least the prominent St.Petersburg chamber choir. The audiences can look forward to hearing works from Beethoven, Smetana, Prokofief, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Strauss and others.

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