Music review: Misha’s Gang, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall

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Take 14 of Russia’s finest young string players, directed by their engagingly gruff and avuncular conductor, Misha Rachlevsky, and give them a programme of pieces written by famous composers when still in their teenage prodigy years. The Gang simply grab the ball and do they run with it!

Misha’s Gang, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53) ****

This Fountain of Youth programme proved both dazzlingly impressive and heart-warming, as the young musicians ranged through works by Rossini, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and Britten – early compositions all, but far from juvenile in their complexity and potency. And in this intimate space the youngsters performed them with meticulous attention and infectious energy.

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They kicked off with Rossini’s little-heard Sonata for Strings No 3, a very different form from the opera with which we usually associate him, with a solemn middle movement contrasting with the vivacious string cascades with which it ended.

A prelude and scherzo from the 19-year-old Shostakovich – edgy music with its melancholy drifts and an intensely visceral conclusion – was brought off superbly by the players, who were similarly deft with Mendelssohn’s bustling Octet for Strings. “Might it not have been a little faster?” observed Rachlevsky drolly, following the scurrying energy of its finale.

They followed that with the stately yet warm-hearted sarabande from Britten’s Simple Symphony, and concluded – we thought – with a short, sharp burst of Astor Piazzolla’s popular Libertango by way of a “lollipop”. To cram in an encore of Flight of the Bumble Bee after that was probably over-egging the pudding.

• Until 25 August, 3pm.