As I write this, I am staring at the pouring rain outside the study window. Two days after our opening of the Breinton season, I am still on a high from the excitement we experienced. What a wonderful evening it was!

When I was planning this season's Soirées, I had a pretty good idea who I wanted to invite to perform. I remember filling our calendar with great enthusiasm, completing all the dates, all except one – I could not fill the first slot. For the season opening, I was fussy, I wanted an new instrument, something which had never played here before, and I wanted something special. For a while I had no clue. Then one day I came across Natasha Lomeiko and Yuri Zhislin on the list of musicians managed by one of the agencies we work with. The decision was easily made.

Natasha and Yuri introduced us to the beautiful world of the violin and viola. We were also delighted to hear pieces by new composers that had not been featured before: Antonio Bartolomeo Bruni, an Italian composer and violinist who spent most of his life and career in Paris; and Johan Halvorsen, a Norwegian violinist and composer.  

The recital started with two pieces from Bruni's collection of more than twenty compositions for violin and viola, specifically, No. 3 and No. 4 from Book Four of his Six Duos Concertants. Each duo had two movements – all of them different in style, but

  • Bruni: 2 Duos Concertantes for violin and viola
  • Prokofiev:  Sonata for two violins, Op. 56
  • Ysaye:  Sonata for two violins
  • Handel arr Halvorsen:  Passacaglia

Yuri ZhislinDescribed by The Strad as a 'Virtuoso with a truly Romantic temperament', Yuri Zhislin is one of the most versatile musicians of his generation. Equally at home on both violin and viola, Zhislin enjoys an active and illustrious career as a soloist and chamber musician, performing in his native Russia, as well as Eastern and Western Europe, the United States, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. His performances have taken him to nearly 60 countries around the globe.

Acknowledged by critics for his easily recognasible, distinct and warm tone, Zhislin collaborated with Maria Joao Pires, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Natalie Clein, Levon Chilingirian and Michael Collins among many others.

Winner of the 'BBC Radio Two Young Musician of the Year' in 1993, Yuri studied at the Royal College of Music in London and has performed in major concert venues across Europe, including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Kings Place in London, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Cortot and Salle Gaveau in Paris, Stadcasino in Basel and Kolarac in Belgrade.

Zhislin recorded his debut recital CD with a brilliant Greek pianist George Lazaridis in 2005 for the SOMM label, which received rave reviews in the media.

Together with his wife, an outstanding Russian violinist Natalia Lomeiko, Yuri toured the UK, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and recorded a critically acclaimed CD for Naxos in 2009. Lomeiko and Zhislin were invited to perform the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante for two consecutive seasons in Brisbane, Australia, as part of the Master Concert Series.

In 2004, Yuri formed the Russian Virtuosi of Europe - a highly versatile and vibrant chamber orchestra that brings together some of the best string players from Eastern Europe that are now based in London. The Virtuosi performed in London, Paris and Zurich, toured South America and took part in numerous festivals throughout Europe. Future plans include concerts in Russia, a return South America tour and several concerts at major London venues.

Zhislin was an Artistic Director of the Evaristo Valle Festival in Spain between 2000 - 2005.

Yuri is a professor of violin and viola at the Royal College of Music and is in high demand as a visiting professor giving master classes in Conservatorio de Liceo in Barcelona and Classes Magistrales in Leon, Spain, Malmo Academy in Sweden, as well as in Bulgaria, Holland, Japan and Australia.

"Yuri Zhislin's playing was full of warmth and entrancing stylistic verity that helped coax the dramatic contrasts of the Finale, where a highly charged climax exploded into the auditorium." Musical Opinion, February 2003

"Zhislin played the Elgar Concerto with passion.... This is a violinist with great sensitivity, inner warmth and love for music." Lublin Courier, Poland. September 2003

Natalia Lomeiko Born into a family of musicians in Novosibirsk, Russia, Natalia has already established herself internationally as a versatile performing artist. Having won numerous prizes in Tibor Varga, Tchaikovsky, Menuhin, Stradivari International Violin competitions; in the year 2000 she received the Gold Medal and the 1st Prize in the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition (Genoa, Italy) and the 1st prize in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition (Auckland, New Zealand) in 2003.

Natalia studied at the Specialist Music School in Novosibirsk with Prof. A. Gvozdev, at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England with Lord Menuhin and Prof. N. Boyarskaya, at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music with Prof. Hu Kun and currently lives in London.

Since her debut with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra at the age of seven, Natalia performed as a soloist with many orchestras, such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Lord Menuhin, the Philharmonia, the Singapore Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony, the Auckland Philharmonia, the Christchurch Symphony, the Bilkent Symphony, the Tokyo Royal Philharmonic, the New European Strings, the Kronstadt Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, St.Petersburg Radio Symphony and the Nice Philharmonic among many others.

Natalia is often invited to perform solo and chamber music at various Festivals around Europe and Asia such as Paganiniana, The Tuscan Sun, Sansepolcro, Portogruaro, Evaristo Valle, Korsholm, Yerevan, Ako (Japan)and many others.

In 2001 Natalia recorded the Three Grieg Violin Sonatas with pianist Olga Sitkovetsky for the DYNAMIC label to a high critical acclaim. Since that her recital in Cremona on Paganini's violin was recorded on FONE and released in 2003. Her CD of French Sonatas with pianist Olga Sitkovetsky has been released on Trust Records in 2004; the Strad described it "... a stunning recital". Her latest CD with husband Yuri Zhislin will be realeased later this year on NAXOS.

Natalia has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in such prestigious venues in London as the Wigmore Hall, the Purcell Room, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Buckingham Palace, the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall. She has performed chamber music with such distinguished musicians as Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, the late Boris Pergamenschikov, Tabea Zimmerman, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Schlomo Mintz and many others. She has toured the Great Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Russia, Poland, Spain, the USA, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand.

In the recent years Natalia has also been invited as a Guest Concertmaster of Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Virtuosi of Europe, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2011 Natalia was appointed as a Professor of Violin at the Royal College of Music in London and as Leader of Oxford Philomusica.