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.
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.