Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Victoria Goldsmith in concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra @ Cadogan Hall, London

15 November 2006

Victoria Goldsmith’s concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was an eye-opener to the power of skilled marketing.

15-year-old Miss Goldsmith has not yet proved herself as a major artist either as prize winner in international competitions or as an important concert performer valued by the press.

Yet the Cadogan Hall was well attended by people who expected to hear a wonderful young violinist.

And just to be sure of getting the audience’s heart, Angela Rippon OBE spoke to us before Goldsmith’s appearance. She explained that this occasion was going to be equal to hearing the young Mozart or the young Mendelssohn for the first time, and we were therefore supposed to be attending a historical occasion.

Goldsmith played Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. To be more precise, she played the notes rather than the musical structure of the Concerto. Her performance was not only lacking deep insight into the score but also very basic musical ingredients such as phrasing, diction, and dynamics. Indeed, Goldsmith’s playing was devoid of the essence of music, which is singing and meaningful rhythmic interpretation. Her encore, a virtuoso solo violin piece by Fritz Kreisler, was much more within her reach indeed, it even impressed.

Goldsmith seems well suited to the violin (which is not exactly a naturalinstrument). Her discipline, musical memory and instrumental technique are excellent.But, notwithstanding her large repertoire, Goldsmith looks and plays as a charming and diligent 15-year-old, who is not yet ready for concerto performances with such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic. This concert reminded me of the then-15-year-old Alina Ibragimova, with a similar musical background to Goldsmith, who performed a musically less demanding violin concerto with the London Schools’ Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican few years ago. Both the piece and the accompanying orchestra were appropriate for the gifted child soloist who, in the meantime, has matured into a fine artist.

Though the programme booklet contained three full length photographs and one regular size photo of Victoria Goldsmith, it did not tell us who the players in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were. So I cannot specify the names but I wish to mention that the first flute and first oboe created wonderful music during the whole concert.

Sadly, this was the only real positive during the evening. Ensemble playing was often shaky, mainly at the start of movements or sections. Dynamics had no resemblance to those marked in the score. Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony was reduced to a constant bland sound instead of exciting contrasts of light and shade. Perhaps it was boredom which prompted a viola player to drink (hopefully water) from a bottle during the magical slow movement? Benjamin Pope conducted but, as seen, he must have felt uninspired. Yet I am sure that it was not the orchestra’s fault.

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