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Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev – Prokofiev Symphonies

 

Between the two symphonies there was an extraordinary performance of the Sinfonia concertante for cello and orchestra. This marked the UK debut of the Russian cellist Alexander Ramm, and on this evidence he will be back very soon. His intonation was incredibly secure and his virtuosity almost beyond question, even in the most demanding passages where the cello sits at the very top of its register.
Power, pace and passion were the features of the fast music, but when this briefly relented there was a real depth of feeling to the soaring, chant-like melody of the second movement. Gergiev and the orchestra gave crisp accompaniment, but Ramm was the star for this incredibly assured and most musical performance, redolent of Steven Isserlis in his youth!

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An all-you-can-eat Prokofiev buffet from the Mariinsky

 

…Earning second prize in the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, this tall, youthful cellist, with a mop of unruly hair à la Steven Isserlis (but without the curls) is a real talent. His sound is big-boned, with soulful legatos, iron pizzicatos and percussive attack which made easy work of Prokofiev’s wiry writing in an admirably taut account. The Mariinsky’s accompaniment was sketchy at times, the first horn having the good grace to look embarrassed after a mangled solo. Ramm’s terrific Gaspar Cassado encore, infused with earthy Spanish inflections, was well-received.

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 A Distinguished Conclusion to Gergiev’s London Prokofiev Cycle with the Mariinsky Orchestra

 

The cellist Alexander Ramm is in his late twenties and is emerging as an international artist after an early career in his native Russia. If he is as yet comparatively unknown in the West this is a situation that is not likely to continue for much longer on the evidence of his performance of the Sinfonia Concertante (also known as the Symphony-Concerto). In the lyrical opening of the work we were made aware of his lovely, singing tone quality, projecting strongly into the hall, and as this complex work developed so did his virtuoso technique become excitingly evident. For the whole, quite long, span of the three movements Ramm held the attention unerringly through his total emotional commitment. In Gergiev and the Mariinsky players he had the best collegial support possible, and as a whole it was a most distinguished performance.

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 Cellist Alexander Ramm stars at Hugo Concert

 

The astounding young cellist, Alexander Ramm was the star of the seventh concert in the Hugo Concert Series. Born in Vladivostok this young Russian wonder has performed in public since the age of nine, winning a clutch of prestigious prizes along the way.

And yet Ramm’s playing remained consistently powerful and assured. His technique was astounding as he explored the rich high and low registers of his cello and the audience especially enjoyed his interpretation of Cassadó’s Suite for Cello Solo. This adventurous work combines the Baroque formalism and dance orientation of Bach’s suites with Gaspar Cassadó’s own Spanish heritage and, as with most of Cassadó’s other cello compositions, was designed to showcase his own talents as a cellist. Ramm’s voicing in the second movement, written in the form of a two-part sardana, was brilliant; the voicing was so clear and distinct that he made it sound as if two separate cellos were actually at play.

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 Soloist Alexander Ramm impresses with JPO

 

Alexander Ramm (‘cello) and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gérard Korsten gave us an enlightened performance of a work which can be obstreperous and therefore difficult to bring off. This young soloist is amazing in the way he projects all the moods within this intense piece of some 40 minutes’ duration. A few examples of what came back to me clearly today after Wednesday evening’s concert, are the following: Apart from technical matters to which we will return, it is the overall level of tonal lustre Ramm, who is only 24, displays which makes one listen in awe. The moods and contrasts in this work are so diverse and can switch as suddenly as the proverbial drop of a coin, that is takes a great artist to accommodate all of them.

He blends the difficult accompanying figurations perfectly against the orchestral solos. Magical indeed are the feathery triplet-patterns against the “dreamy” subject of the opening Andante. Just as subtle is the enjoyment he elates in the little dialogue between the ‘cello harmonics and flute which provides a brief respite in the conflicts of the mighty Allegro giusto second movement. In those passages described above in the second paragraph, it feels as if Ramm is already impetuous and risk-taking in a controlled manner through which he can often penetrate to the mystic and at times threatening soul of the work. During languid, introspective passages his burnished, dark legato is quite unique. He uses it to moving effect in the nostalgia, richness and warmth of the melody at the heart of the piece. He lets every phrase burn.

There is also a combination of fevered intensity and a whole range of intensely rewarding solo work forthcoming from the orchestra. Gérard Korsten commands a kind of classical finesse in his approach to the score which ensures a wonderfully balanced reading. He and his musicians are fastidious in scrupulously observing all the dynamic and agogic markings. There is a real Prokofiev sonority hanging in the air, with his often characteristically sardonic bite and wit potently in evidence. Congratulations are due to the orchestra and maestro Korsten whose alertness and pinpointed, detailed cultivation is something to behold.

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Another fabulous concert, review of JPO concert

 

The soloist for Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante is the Russian Alexander Ramm, whom I first heard when he was in South Africa for the Unisa International String Competition in 2010, in which he came second in the cello section. He played exquisitely. The only criticism which I can possibly make is that he desperately needs a haircut, that or some clips to keep the hair out of his face.

I didn’t know the work, but I thought it was marvellous, thanks at least partly to the beautiful rich tone Alexander Ramm gives it. He made the ridiculously difficult cadenza look easy and it sounded magnificent. The Naxos recording of this work features Alexander Rudin with the Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra 8.553624. For an encore Ramm played Cassado’s Cello Suite, a work entirely unknown to me before, but lovely and very showy.

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 CPO with Spencer Myer and Alexander Ramm

 

Happily young Russian cellist Alexander Ramm saved the evening. His riveting performance of Elgar’s last major work for orchestra, the well-known Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85, beautifully captured the concerto’s mood of disillusion, suffering and distress and kept the members of the audience perched at the edge of their seats as the music ravished their ears.

Conductor Brandon Phillips dexterously led soloist and orchestra in playing as one soul from the four insistent opening chords to its repeat at the end of the work, which resounded like a cry of despair.

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Impressive performance

 

Elgar’s concerto is one of the great works written for the cello, although widespread international recognition has been acquired only in the past three decades. That might partially be because of its perceived “Englishness”, perhaps best described as a degree of emotional diffidence.

But there is a difference between emotion and passion; and the best English music – and certainly that of Elgar – has never lacked passion. So it was that this young Russian virtuoso delivered the solo line with a convincing musical insight and a smouldering passion that set alight the solo line.

Ramm plays with enormous musical authority. Unlike many young instrumentalists, he is not intimidated by the reflective or the elegiac; nor is he nervous about the length of pauses, or the creation of inter-phrase silence. His is a phenomenal technique and he demonstrated it to full effect in this captivating performance.

Phillips provided a remarkably flexible accompaniment, managing the frequently fragmented writing with a neat precision.
The performance garnered a well-deserved standing ovation from a delighted audience.

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Ramm’s Prokofiev Is Something Very Special

 

Two decades ago, a young Russian violinist, Vadim Repin, knocked one off
one’s feet with a fabulous performance of Glazunoff’s violin concerto in the
Linder. In the mean time, Repin has conqured the musical world and he is
one of the most sought after violinists on the international circuit.
This is what I predict for the 24 year old Russian cellist.

Ramm’s performance of the Prokovief Concerto was magnificant, often
dumbfounding, demanding some times technical even demonic playing of
this simfonia concertante. This man posesses all the attributes to make him
a special musician. Prokovief himself prefered this title in stead of a «Cello
Concert» because of the challenging solo- and ensemble inputs from the
orchestra. It is in this regard that Ramm impressed so much, let alone his
spotless playing in a work which by all indications exploits the full
range of the
instument.

Within the framework of the solo part and the large ochestral score, soaked
in continuing ryhtmic and harmonic construction, he establishes an authority
whereby he exposes every trend and all the dynamics demanded by the
music.

By Thys Odendaal for Beeld Newspaper