Final Arts Festival Concert a Triumph for Young Gorleston Cellist

27th August 2019

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life


ARTS FESTIVAL CONCERT 2019Picture shows the timpanist (at rear), Maxim Calver the cellist playing in a moving moment from Elgar's Cello Concerto and conductor Frankie Ayers with the East Coast Simonetta. photo courtesy of Jeremy Freeman

Michael Boon reports

The final concert of the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival 2019 took place in the Minster. The concert opened with Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture and concluded with Elgar's Enigma Variations but the standout piece in the middle of the concert was a performance of Elgar's cello Concerto in E minor written and first performed in 1919
The concert was given by English coast Simonetta, formed in 2016, which consists of musicians from the Lowestoft and Waveney areas conducted by Frankie Ayers. The orchestra was Frankie's brainchild after he learned to play the tuba and was looking to extend his experience of playing in various orchestras as principal tuba players by gaining more experience with conducting
 The opening item Mendelssohn's Hebrides concert overture otherwise known as Fingal's Cave set the atmosphere for the evening. The opening melody of the overture played on the violas, cellos and bassoons sketch the theme which Mendelssohn wrote when visiting the Scotland as part of his grand tour of Europe to complete his education. The woodwind of the Sinonetta picked up the otherworldly sounds of the waves breaking within the cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa. The whole orchestra contributed to the varied images of the seascape which Mendelssohn composed in what has become perhaps an early tone poem. The lonely flute arpeggio at the end of the work over pizzicato strings leaves the audience with a sense of haunting mystery 
The second piece of the concert was Elgar's Cello Concerto perhaps one of the greatest of his last major works was written in 1919 in Brinkwells, the Sussex cottage where he had retired with his wife to regain their strength after ill-health. Many leading musicians such as Felix Salmond, Pablo Casals and Jacqueline du Pre have memorably played this work but the evening belonged to the young soloist from Gorleston Maxim Calver
His talent had been recognised early in his career and he has already performed with some of the major orchestras in Great Britain and in Europe. He has toured on the continent and is a recipient of the Herbert Howells and Thomas Fielding scholarship. He approached the work with quiet confidence picking up the melancholy attitude of the concerto in the opening recitative which was answered by the orchestra's wind and horn. The audience were fascinated by his musicianship as he moved into the faster section of the second movement before slowing to a cadenza which ends the movement. The last movement of the concerto contains one of Elgar's noble themes played with precision and feeling by Maxim. This was a well thought intelligent and memorable performance by young soloist at the beginning of his career who will become one of the great English exponents on the cello
MAXIM CALVER 09-2019The second half of the concert concluded with Elgar's Enigma Variations written between 1898 and 1899 played with gusto by the Simonetta with Frankie driving them along. From the first variation C.A.E. depicting Elgar's dedicated wife Alice in soft gentle themes through to the rumbustious fourth variation WMB, the portrait of Elgar's friends sketched orchestrally creating pictures in the minds of the audience of the characters. The great rising theme of Nimrod depicting his great friend and publisher was followed by the gentle 10th variation Dorabella using a solo by viola over woodwind. Building towards the Enigma's climax the 11 variation GRS. a Pictorial version of the Hereford organist Sinclair's bulldog Dan, Provided great scope for the excellent timpanist and brass. In the final 14w variation there are echoes of the variations depicting Jeager his friend and publisher and devoted wife Alice (photo above shows Maxim Calver taking a bow after playing Elgar's cello concerto with the congratulations of conductor Frankle Ayers and his orchestra. photo courtesy of Jeremy Freeman)

An excellent concert to conclude the great Yarmouth Arts Festival with the north aisle full of an appreciative audience for a concert with the young imaginative conductor and, an inspired orchestra who produced a memorable concert of familiar works. However the talk at the end was of cellist Maxim Calver and those of us who heard him in the Minster feel sure that in the years to come we will hear him on many larger and more distant stages as a distinguished English cellist