Review

Jess Gillam

‘World class musicians in Marlborough’. That is the mantra of the Marlborough College Concert Series, and we are proud to promote that as our honest promise to our audience. In the recital last night given by Jess Gillam, Leif Kaner-Lidström and Sam Becker, there can be no question that that promise was met; moreover, they were brilliant young musicians too, which made it all the more special.

Jess Gillam is a natural. That has been plain to see since she hit the big time and leapt to fame some years ago, and backed by Leif on piano and Sam on bass, this was a sparkling recital. It was both captivating and beautifully engaging, made particularly refreshing after all the misery and turmoil of the last 18 months. The choice of programme was simply ravishing too. A clever concoction of the more conventional (Poulenc, Telemann and Bach), some ‘tunes’ we might know (Kurt Weill and David Bowie) and a handful of composers that we don’t know, who Jess champions with rightful enthusiasm and in so doing enlightens us all.

As for the performance itself? It was an inspiring spectacle brimming with intelligent musicianship. The sound that Jess produces is a dream: such colour, such variety, such fragrance; her dynamic range is a joy, and the ensemble worked a treat.

The Memorial Hall also joined in on the act of making the evening rather special too. Jess had remarked at the interval that with such a full audience the acoustic was a little on the dry side (most acoustic musicians like some resonance to work with), so in order to address her wishes, we were able to adjust the acoustic panels across the back of the ambulatory accordingly. As a number of eminent musicians that have had the pleasure of playing in the newly refurbished Memorial Hall of late have remarked, there cannot be a finer venue for our audience to attend than the one which is now on all our doorsteps here at the College.

That’s great news for the MCCS and everyone else going forward.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director