Festival Overview

The Andermatt Winter Festival is a new event inhabiting the equally new concert hall in this small Alpine village above the St. Gotthard Pass in Switzerland. Among the ski chalets and cable cars this community has been transformed in the last decade from a bleak military base into a collection of luxury hotels and apartments. In the basement of the Radisson is a hall seating only 650 but able to put a Beethoven size orchestra on stage. The first winter festival was a four day celebration of Beethoven.

Artistic Director: Maximilian Fane


Thursday 16 January 2020

Andermatt Concert Hall

Beethoven Violin Concerto

English Classical Players
Nikita Boriso-Glebsky Violin
Jonathan Brett Conductor

Friday 17 January 2020

Andermatt Concert Hall

Beethoven Rondo for Violin and Piano
National Airs with Variations Op.107
Violin Sonata No. 9, Op. 47

Nikita Boriso-Glebsky Violin
Jonathan Brett Conductor

The Review

Sometimes, luckily, fine musicians rise to an occasion despite a small audience, an eccentric location and a useless conductor. Such was the case when the very fine Russian violinist, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky performed Beethoven’s concerto in the basement hall at Andermatt.

The English Classical Players (ECP) who play on modern instruments are not to be confused with Sir Roger Norrington’s London Classical Players, who went for a period appropriate sound and reformed as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE). Even so, the ECP had not assembled under that name for a decade. Its personnel in Andermatt contained some of Britain’s most experienced chamber players (not all of them English!) but there was nothing they could do to make the reunion seem worthwhile under Jonathan Brett. They did their best on minimal preparation but their own unfamiliarity and the vague directions from the podium meant the holes were gaping.

Brett really needs to put himself through some thorough retraining if he is to guide acceptable performances. His current technique is woeful and unfair on distinguished colleagues. It is a shame because he has a sound sense of tempo and it suggests an innate understanding of the music’s ebb and flow. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved, though, without helping the orchestra with detailed phrasing, clear clues, looking at each section, and a beat that indicates the instant of entry. A wave with eyes fixed on the back wall doesn’t do it.

Meanwhile Boriso-Glebsky played with insight, sweet tone, immaculate intonation and made me wish I could hear him with an orchestra of the stature to match his. Such a performance would quickly shoot him to the top of the profession. He showed that to an even smaller audience (including several of the orchestra impressed by his playing the night before) the following lunchtime in the mid period Sonata Op. 47. He and Georgi Tchaidze have that blessed gift of making you believe that the music should go exactly as they are presenting it and in these intimate surroundings the performances became very personal, drawing us in as though Beethoven had each of us in mind as listeners. Every entry was unified, every attack on the measure, every phrase given with thought and conviction. Tchaidze’s superb accompanying suggests he is just as good a solo player and I hope the major orchestras and halls of the world give him a chance to prove it.