Life goes on. The concert at the Sheldonian in Oxford was titled as Moscow Nights, after one of the pieces, but the overall programme was to me more reminiscent of the Maškaradă album by Taraf de Haïdouks, a classical but folk-inspired whirlwind tour across Europe.
The pieces in the first half were all arrangements for various string ensembles: Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BVW867, from the Well-Tempered Clavier, and three pieces from de Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas for cello ensembles; Bartók’s Romanian Dances and Soloviev-Sedoi’s Moscow Nights for string orchestra; and Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 for ten violins and piano. The Bartók, Soloviev-Sedoi, and Paganini worked particularly well; most of the de Falla was unfamiliar to me and lacked clarity from time to time. Leading the proceedings wherever possible, and not taking things too seriously, was violinist Yuri Zhislin.
The second half was more authentic, in that it was as the composer wrote it: Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. It was a vigorous performance and enjoyed by a far from full theatre. An encore – Kreisler’s Little Viennese March – was a light-hearted round off to the evening.