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Zurich Chamber Orchestra – 3rd December 2016

On Saturday 3rd December 2016 the Zurich Chamber Orchestra were in Cambridge for a Concert at the Cambridge Corn exchange as part of the 2016-17 Cambridge Classical Concert Series. Cool Classics Presenter Jon Aveling went along to see the action. 

Founded in 1945 by Edmond de Stoutz the Zurich Chamber Orchestra is now one of the leading ensembles of its kind. Led by an effervescent concert master in Willi Zimmermann the Orchestra’ though small, give a really good crisp sound. This evening was no exception as from the very start they gave a faultless and up tempo performance of Mozart’s symphony number 33 in B flat Major. Punchy and crisp strings resonated well with the Corn Exchange’s acoustics. The Orchestra were then joined by Alison Balsom on the Trumpet for her first performance as artist in residence and she too did not disappoint with her rendition of Hummel’s Trumpet concerto in E Major. The Rondo, 3rd movement is probably close to being Alison Balsom’s signature piece! She plays it so well. If there is a better trumpet player in the world right now then I have yet to hear them. The ovation was well deserved both for Balsom and the Zurich chamber Orchestra. During the interval Alison signed CDs on the merchandise stall in the foyer and posed for photos including one incredibly bad selfie with yours truly!

Zurich Chamber Orchestra 2016

After the interval Gabriela Montero took centre stage for her rendition of another Mozart piece, the concerto for piano and Orchestra number 14 and this enabled her to showcase her excellent touch and ability to get the most out of her piano. The evening’s finale saw Montero joined by Alison Balsom and together with the Zurich chamber Orchestra they played Shostakovich’s piano concerto in C minor for piano, trumpet and string orchestra. I have said before that I am not a great lover of Shostakovich but the piece once again enable both soloists to show case their individual abilities. Balsom has an incredible lung capacity and Montero’s hand speed is at time as mesmerising as it is faultless. Years of practice with those arpeggios no doubt! The evening g culminated in an excellent encore from Gabriela Montero. She asked the audience to sing her a theme, any theme and she would improvise a piece around it. An audience member hummed a piece from the Jazz suite by Shostakovich (obviously a few die-hard fans of his there including one in a football shirt with his name, Shostakovich and the number 4 on the back). What followed was 4 minutes of pretty astonishing improvised piano playing around the theme , again played at breakneck speed and pretty much without fault. Once finished she deserved and got a fantastic ovation.


All in all another enjoyable night. The next concert in the series is already sold out 21st January and it’s the music of John Williams. Cool Classics hopes to get some tickets for a competition however in the New Year. More details can be found here

A very merry festive Season to all Cool Classics listeners and a Happy New Year.