The ECO wows our country mouse

It’s wellie time in the countryside. Normally, it’s not until later in October, just before the clocks change, that the ground becomes sticky and saturated. It will remain this way until next March. This year, unsurprisingly following the deluges, the wellies were called upon earlier than normal.

It was in the rain that I made the short walk from the Country Life office to the Royal Festival Hall for a concert to celebrate five decades of the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO). The orchestra is a national treasure and a Who’s Who of artists has worked with it, including Rostropovich, Barenboim, Britten, du Pré, Rattle, Previn and Menuhin.

For the gala concert, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sang beautifully and Maxim Vengerov delighted as a conductor and soloist on the former Kreutzer Stradivarius, but the highlight for me was the extraordinary pianist Behzod Abduraimov playing Mozart’s piano concerto No 20 in D minor, K466.

Born in Tashkent, the 22 year old plays in a thrilling style, every note as exquisitely enunciated as the next, sending shivers down my spine. It was an unforgettable evening and, through the youth and brilliance of Mr Abduraimov, sent out the best possible message of a bright future for the marvellous ECO.

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