2017 Reviews
Edward Elgar - Violin Concerto
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Michael Seal
Forum Theatre, Malvern
Friday, 02 June 2017

Tasmin Little, CBSO, Seal, Elgar Violin Concerto
The Bard of Tysoe Blog entry

...What followed was a masterclass in intelligence, unity of belief, inclusion, and clarity – indeed unambiguousness – of thought and direction.

The violinist was Tasmin Little. (This is like saying my neighbour was the goddess Venus.) She too communicates with an orchestra: sharing unison violin lines with them; facing soloists who duet with her; eagle-eyeing the conductor. I have only heard this great (a word I will probably be using a lot) work live once before – having fallen in love with it, listening to an LP (ask your grandparents, kids…) of Kyung-Wha Chung and Georg Solti ripping its (and my) heart out of it to weepingly-torrential perfection. But that previous live performance – which will remain nameless – was spoiled by an over-reliance on rubato, and a band too afraid of overwhelming (or upsetting) the (self-congratulatory and mega-famous) soloist.

No such fears, here. Elgar would have been a proud man (not that he was very good at pride): all those millions of significant marks made in the score adhered to, and delivered as ordered. Even when every single instrument was employed simultaneously, Little soared above them, cut through them, sang around them; and the balance was vigorous and supportive. You just have to believe, to trust that Elgar knew what he was doing… – and everyone obviously did.

My eyes were either closed, or blurred with tears, throughout: so not too much detail to report. That previous sentence is probably enough for my loyal reader to know that this was therefore barnstorming, beautiful and brilliant… – the highlight, as always, the impossible (for all involved) cadenza: which froze my tears to my cheeks. Gosh.

The applause went on for many, many minutes; and deservedly so. Little was incredible. So was Seal. So were the CBSO. (Nuffsed.) If this is the last performance I ever hear of this, I shall die happy: knowing how much impossible wizardry it will take to equal it… – if that is achievable. I had my heart broken many times; my soul shredded; and my handkerchief deluged. I went out into the rain wanting to scream my head off with purest, painfullest joy. Surely no music could ever be this great again…?!....

William Walton - Violin Concerto
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Michael Seal
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Thursday, 01 June 2017

Little, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall Birmingham
First-rate Walton tops second-rate Britten, but Beethoven carries the day

... Still, it was good to hear it, if only to point up the sheer quality of Walton’s Violin Concerto – a gleaming art deco streamliner of a piece, dating from 1939 and performed by Tasmin Little and Seal with a panache that didn’t so much suggest Heifetz and Rodzinski as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. With her lustrous tone and hint of grit it’s hard to think of a living violinist who’s better suited to this concerto, and Little went at it with mile-wide vibrato, succulent double stops and high notes that rocketed straight up to the ceiling of Symphony Hall.

Seal partnered her with a big band snap and swing, letting Walton’s woodwind countermelodies soar and the strings well up so that it felt – in Walton’s long passages of rapturous song – like this was a genuine duet between orchestra and soloist. Little began the central scherzo with the speed and iridescence of a hummingbird, and leaned thrillingly into the curves as, with Seal coolly in command, Walton’s syncopated brass accelerated into successive climaxes. In short, this was a performance to set hairs on end, simultaneously dazzling and seductive. Little’s final flourish was pure showbiz, and quite right too ....

Richard Bratby, 2 June 2017, The Arts Desk
Max Bruch - Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor
with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Christian Kluxen
Newbury Spring Festival
Saturday 13th May 2017

Tasmin Little and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at St. Nicolas’ Church, Newbury on Saturday, May 13.

At Saturday’s Newbury Spring Festival Concert, we were delighted to welcome the iternationally acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little, who was celebrating her birthday, and the renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Kluxen.

Then – the moment we’d all been waiting for – a smiling Tasmin Little arrived on the stage. Combining lyrical beauty with technical mastery, she treated us to a stunning performance of Bruch’s ‘Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor’.

Playing with a lovely lyricism, she gave a raptly expressive and impassioned rendition of the opening rhapsodic prelude.

The highlight for me was her captivating ‘Adagio’; tender and poetic and performed with breathtaking intensity. Her expressive playing, full of warmth, was supremely lyrical, beautifully phrased and rich in colour.

Her thrilling rendering of the ‘dancing’ final movement, performed with great energy and zest, positively sparkled. She dazzled us with her virtuosity. As the ‘singing’ from her violin soared higher and higher, the excitement grew until in a final flourish she ended the concerto in exuberance and jubilation.

The audience cheered and stamped with many shouting ‘Bravo!’ Tasmin told us that her Newbury audiences are ‘special’ to her and so – as an extra treat – she gave an awesome performance of ‘Hora Bessarabia’, composed by Roxanna Panufnik in memory of Yehudi Menuhin (Tasmin’s violin teacher at school). Afterwards, our singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ clearly delighted her.

Helen Bomgardner, May 2017, Newbury Weekly News
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Christoph König
Cadogan Hall, London
Thursday 4th May

The charismatic violinist Tasmin Little delights the orchestra and audience alike with her dazzling display of virtuosity at London's Cadogan Hall (Four Stars ****)

It's a shame that the title National Treasure has become a cliche, all too often applied to people who aren't, because otherwise I would accuse Tasmin Little of being one. In her 25 years before the public she has performed tirelessly up and down the country. The evening before this sea-out Cadogan Hall concert, she played the Bruch Violin Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic in Warwick, and a few days earlier the Elgar and Walton concertos at concerts in the north of England. She sees it as a duty as well as a pleasure to perform and record little-known pieces of British music. So this concert was a welcome opportunity to hear how good she is in core repertory such as the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. A charismatic figure even before she places her 1757 Guadagnini under her chin. she produced an effortless flow of pyrotechnics in the tricky first-movement cadenza, ending that movement with a dazzling display of virtuosity. It was a sure sign of the success of this performance that the finale drew an enthusiastic response from the orchestra, as well as the audience.

David Mellor , May 14th 2017, Daily Mail webpage
Recital at St Mary’s Church, Painswick
with Tasmin Little and John Lenehan, piano

Saturday 25th March

A Sumptuous Violin Recital at St Mary’s Church, Painswick with Tasmin Little

Tasmin Little, returning like an old friend for her fourth visit at St Mary's Church in Painswick, delighted a capacity audience in the first of Painswick Music Society’s series of concerts for the Spring of 2017.

In her lively and humorous introductions to the music, one was immediately aware of the passionate communicator who launched the project, The Naked Violinist, a free CD download designed to break down barriers to classical music.

Accompanied by the pianist, John Lenehan, Tasmin treated us to a breathtaking display of impassioned violin playing, her rich tonal palette wonderfully evoking the varied moods of the music.

The term, ‘Accompanist’, would hardly do justice to John Lenehan’s part in the recital.
In both Schubert’s Rondo Brillante and Franck’s Sonata, he displayed prodigious technical skill, negotiating with ease the rapid and complicated passage work. The concert was very much a duo performance by two highly accomplished musicians.

The deep rapport between violinist and pianist inspired performances in which the musical ideas were beautifully integrated. This was especially apparent in the soul-searching of John Ireland’s little-known, First Sonata and in the ravishing intimacy of Fauré’s Romance.

Chris Swain, March 28th 2017
Tasmin Little at the Barnes Music Festival
St Mary's Church, Barnes
Saturday 11th March 2017

Barnes Music Festival 2017 – Gala Opening Concert with Tasmin Little
Roxanna Panufnik’s Four World Seasons & Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons,
and Tchaikovsky's Serenade

... After the interval Little captivated with her virtuosity and her enthusiastic and vivid commentary of Vivaldi’s programmatic intentions; we were not left in any doubt of the gunshots, barking dogs and drunken peasantry. Anyone looking for historically-informed revelations would have been disappointed, but with tempos that kept you on the edge of your seat, beautifully judged ornamentation and cadenzas, a soloist who dashed off the most difficult passages of florid writing and the obvious fun that the performers (continuo team especially) were having, this favourite set of Concertos was fresh and invigorating.

Timothy Wilde, Classic Source, March 12th 2017
Recital: Tasmin Little violin, & Martin Roscoe, piano
Morpeth Methodist Church
Thursday 12th January 2017

Tasmin Little warmed up a cold night with a brilliant Morpeth recital

The star violinist was joined by pianist Martin Roscoe for a display of musical virtuosity in the latest Morpeth Music Society gig.

It was a cold night to be venturing out but there was a warm welcome in prospect.
Tasmin Little’s smile alone can warm up a room and her fiddle playing could power a small part of the national grid.

It was packed for this gig, even up in the gallery where the view was perfect.
The concert began with Beethoven’s Sonata in A minor, composed in 1801 – just before his better known Spring Sonata – and sounding here as fresh as a daisy.
Tasmin Little’s charming and chatty introductions showed that she loves the music she plays and this comes out in her performance.
Poised on her high heels, she conjured up musical perfection while Martin Roscoe at the piano was, as Tasmin acknowledged, more than an accompanist.
Also before the interval came Fauré’s Sonata No. 1 in A major, a chance to hear a piece which, according to the violinist, is not very frequently played.
On this evidence, you wondered why. It’s easy on the ear and has a great champion in Tasmin Little.
The best, for me, came after the interval with Schubert’s Fantasie in C major which was composed in 1827 and rather turned the tables on the concert platform, putting the spotlight on the keyboard.
The opening long, slow violin notes, each requiring a full stroke of the bow, float above the piano tiddly-pomming like billyo underneath. I imagined a swan gliding on a lake.
There was an encore, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, a furious foot-tapping blast to send all away happy.
This was a great concert and the society has two more before the end of the season.

David Whetstone, Newcastle Journal, January 13th 2017
Szymanowski Violin Concerto No 2 Op 61
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner
Tasmin Little, violin
Barbican Hall, London, January 7th 2017

"Szymanowski’s Second Violin Concerto was more relaxed, with generous orchestral cushions for Tasmin Little’s solo playing, which made as much of the languid low-register lyricism as it did of the forays into the highest reaches of the violin’s range.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 08 January 2017

"Szymanowski’s second Violin Concerto, its deep, dark pools of sound beautifully transparent, the narrative well paced by Gardner and the soloist Tasmin Little. In the dizzying cadenza and the long paragraphs of melody and variations on either side, Little’s execution was flawless, her tone pure and penetrating."

Anna Pickard, The Times, 10 January 2017

Poland was presented in a more positive light via Karol Szymanowski's Second Violin Concerto, given passionate advocacy by Tasmin Little. It's a far cry from the perfumed, intoxicating language of his earlier concerto, being earthier and almost Bartókian in its driving folk rhythms. Little gave a muscular performance, especially of the cadenza by Paweł Kochański, the concerto's recipient. Fierce double-stopping was matched by lyrical interludes of great tenderness.

Max Pullinger, Bachtrack, 8 January 2017

Tasmin Little is now something of a veteran of the concert hall, but in Szymanowski’s demanding Second Violin Concerto she proved once again that her skill and artistry stand up well to that of the numerous young violinists who continue to arrive on the scene. She gave an exemplary reading of this work, one that was ardent, intense and highly expressive, and which typicall en sense of communication with her audience. Gardner and the orchestra gave her ideally strong support.

Alan Sanders, Seen & Heard International, 8 January 2017