This year’s Orchestra of the Swan Associate Artist is cellist Laura van der Heijden – the winner of BBC Young Musician 2012 – who many of you will have seen and heard deliver an astonishing rendition of Elgar’s Cello Concerto during July’s Last Night of the Shakespeare Proms. As I wrote then…
Laura’s interpretation of this masterpiece is definitely all her own. (As [David] said, so perspicaciously, in his pre-concert talk: she has made it so by first, wisely, returning to the source material – interrogating and understanding Elgar’s clear, precise, multifarious directions….)
Additionally, she seems to have realized that, just because a work is known for its emotion, not all of that needs to be of the negative variety. Undoubtedly, there are many passages of profound, sublime sadness. However, there is also a great deal of joy to be found – and to be expressed. And this Laura did with incredibly fresh, youthful vigour….
Such passion, as Laura so beautifully demonstrated, is contained in the notes themselves (such is the wizardry of Elgar’s writing and orchestration). And, although I would never argue that any musician should not bring their own experiences and feeling with them when playing any work, I do believe that they should not then impose them on it (especially not to the music’s detriment). Performer and creator need to find a balance where both voices speak equally – and it is this quality so evident in Laura’s playing that is so utterly impressive (if not so utterly stupefying…).
Her thoughtful rendition showed such a keen understanding not only of this requisite harmony, but… of the composer’s expressed intentions – as well as how to convey them through the prisms of her own heart, mind and body.