Callum Smart and Gordon Back blew us away - it was a delightful and joyful evening with splendid music performed by two outstanding musicians. Callum Smart, at the tender age of 15 (albeit almost 16), is already a confident and composed violist. He is obviously gifted and one to whom the violin comes naturally. Gordon Back accompanied him expertly, complementing and leading the soloist when necessary. His deep understanding of the pieces and his generous approach must have been a big support to Callum. Their combined effort created music that was like a strong magnet, captivating our attention throughout the evening.
The evening started with Grieg's Sonata in G major. It has a different air and feeling to it from any other pieces of today's programme, as it is built on Norwegian folk melodies and rhythms. I wonder why it is rarely performed in concerts. The beautiful melodies and harmonies were presented excellently by the performers. I think Callum's vibrato was amazing, especially in the tranquil second movement. The light hearted third movement, with its strong Norwegian folk music feel, was my choice; it was such a contrast from the previous movement. This Grieg Sonata is definitely added as one of my favourites now – the more I listen to it the more I addicted I get.
The second piece was Avec Ã©lan, a piece composed for Callum by Swiss composer Jean-Luc Darbellay. It means "with passion" and lasts just three minutes. The rather simple opening, with one note followed by another, made us wonder how the music would develop. Callum played it with passion, as the title suggested.
Callum Smart attracted wide public attention at the age of thirteen having won the strings category of the 2010 BBC Young Musicians Competition performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Vasily Petrenko and broadcast on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 3.
Also in 2010, Callum became the top European prize-winner
Gordon Back's distinguished career as a pianist has taken him to many continents of the world. His international reputation was established in 1978 when he played with Dong-Suk Kang in Alice Tully Hall, New York, to great critical acclaim. Since then he has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Russia, U.S.A., Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore and of course,