Another high-spot of the Festival is, for me, the peripatetic Young Talent event, a series of half-hour concerts taking place in different venues around the town. Last year it was rather a magical mystery tour with the stages hidden away in half a dozen or more obscure, mostly out-door corners of the city, resulting in some of the audience being lost along the way. This year it was much more sensible, focusing on four familiar indoor venues.
In the two or three years that I have been in Holland I have been impressed by the incredible amount of young talent that is around in the performing arts. There are major conservatoires of international standing in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam but even so, the quantity and quality of young musicians and dancers, in particular, is disproportionately high.
This was confirmed when this year’s three hour mini-marathon got underway at the Festival’s main venue, the Van der Mandelezaal in the Prinsenhof complex.
Pianist Yang Yang Cai won the 2019 Young Pianist Foundation award and a packed house would not have any doubts as to the reason why. She started off with Mozart’s Rondo in a minor, KV 511 which was followed by two pieces of which I am particularly fond. Both El Albaicínuit Iberia suite voor piano by Isaac Albéniz and Ravel’s 1920 La Valse are physically demanding and Yang Yang Cai played them with gusto and verve and an energy that almost left me out of breath.
I had time to regain it in the short walk across the Oude Delft to the second venue – Sint Hippolytuskapel, the oldest church in Delft. We were not short of energy here either as the DOT string quartet took us on a whirlwind ride though virtually every genre of music you could think of. The four young men with beards and glasses gained their place in the Festival by virtue of winning last year’s Delft Fringe Festival with their very clever and often amusing mélange of tunes, ranging from classics, to jazz, to pop, sometimes all mixed up together. We had bits of Grieg, Django Reinhardt and Miles Davis not to mention Michael Jackson. Gustavo Cabrera and Chris Kosides on violins, Isaac Poels on viola and cellist Ivan Nogueira each contributed arrangements in which their instruments were bowed, plucked, scratched, scraped and tapped. Brilliant.
The third segment was a more subdued affair, taking place in the staid surroundings of the city’s council chamber where Eline Hensels, winner of last year’s Cello Biënnale, played pieces by Bach, György Ligety and Pablo Casals.
The final mini-concert took place in the old Cigar Factory, a disused industrial complex down a dark narrow alley in the Brabantse Turfmarkt, a stone’s throw from Delft’s main square. This, for me, was the outstanding performance of the afternoon and one really felt one was witnessing, if not quite a star being born, one certainly in the latter stages of gestation.
Mayte Levenbach has been playing violin since the age of five and at seven was spotted by the Young Talent Department of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. An extremely talented and charismatic artist, she was accompanied on piano by Natasja Douma as she gave a virtuoso performance of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher followed by Polonaise de concert op.4 by Henri Wieniawski. Ms Levenbach is, beyond doubt, one to watch out for.
Written by Michael Hasted.
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