Review: Callum Smart @ Lichfield Cathedral’s Lady Chapel

No one who saw Callum Smart playing the violin with Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra last year could have been left in any doubt that a new star performer had emerged. Despite his youth the assured nature of his inspired playing marked him out as something special.

So the Festival programmers were really playing to strengths in booking him for a special morning concert this year.

The result, of course, was brilliant, exactly what we wanted. He was beautifully accompanied on the piano by a fellow Chetham’s graduate, Jennie-Helen Moston, another star with a busy schedule of her own. His first choice was Brahms’ Sonatensatz, a rousing opener, lively, full of verve and attack, a playful, joyful piece delivered with all the confidence that announces a master.

Mozart’s Sonata in G k. 301 was characterised in the first movement by a pure, divine playfulness, filled with laughter, with a deepening seriousness in the second.

The Saint-Saens Introduction and Ronde Capricciosa Op.28 began sombrely but Mr. Smart’s lightness and sureness of touch was on full display as it became by degrees a wild dance with a strange, disturbing undertone.

Cesar Franck’s Sonata in A Major showcased the pure beauty of the violin’s tone, achingly beautiful, the piano deeply romantic, the whole first movement full of feeling. Now we truly began to see the astonishing nature of this young performer’s playing, notable for his maturity of voice. The second movement gradually developed a more sombre tone, the third scaling newer and newer heights to a final series of crescendos, the fourth movement more hesitant, less sure, and finally a return to a playful tune.

Never has an hour gone by quicker, with marvellous music shown to best advantage by the wonderful acoustics of the Lady Chapel. This was a concert which confirmed that Callum Smart has the astonishing maturity of a great artist.

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