THIS YEAR’S Bratislava Music Festival (BHS) featured numerous excellent ensembles and individual performers; the concert on October 9 offered both to audiences in the capital’s historical Reduta building. The English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Ellin featured, during its second piece, Bulgarian pianist Plamena Mangova.
The packed concert hall in the Reduta heard the Serenade for Strings (E Minor) Opus 20 by English composer Edward Elgar; Piano Concerto No. 9 “Jeunehomme” by Mozart; String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11 by Tchaikovsky; and Symphony No. 44 in E minor, popularly known as Trauer (Mourning) by Haydn.
The talented Mangova performed the Mozart piece and her playing captivated viewers to such an extent that she had to give an encore.
Mangova has been famous internationally since 2000 and has won acclaim for the extent of her repertoire, which stretches from Baroque to contemporary music. She won several international prizes and after winning the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels in 2007, she was soon offered a recording of Shostakovich’s work that was later awarded Diapason d’Or.
Ellin, who composes as well as conducts, is currently the music director of Thursford Productions, principal conductor of the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra, music director of both the Southbank Centre’s Soundbank Ensemble and Focus Opera, and president of the Pembroke Academy of Music in London.
The English Chamber Orchestra has given guest performances in many countries and made numerous recordings. Apart from being the resident orchestra at the Grange Park Opera in Hampshire, England and performing on cruise ships, it also actively promotes music in British municipalities and at schools via the Close Encounters project.
The selection of works and the ECO’s, Ellin’s and Mangova’s performances were so successful that people were reluctant to let them leave after standing ovations and an encore at the end of the concert. Friday’s event can be ranked among the highlights of the entire BHS programme.