BBC Young Musician 2016 Final – Ben Goldscheider, Jess Gillam, Sheku Kanneh-Mason; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Mark Wigglesworth

Horn Concerto No.2 in E flat
Michael Nyman
Where the Bee Dances
Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat, Op.107

Ben Goldscheider (horn)

Jess Gillam (saxophone)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello)

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Mark Wigglesworth

Jury: Dobrinka Tabakova (chair), Amy Dickson, Alec Frank-Gemmill, Jamie Walton, David Pickard

“Plus, the 2014 winner, pianist Martin James Bartlett, will return to perform the first movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no.3 – before the winner of BBC Young Musician 2016 is announced”

Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Reviewed: 15 May, 2016
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winnerPhotograph: BBC / Mark AllanThree dynamic musicians competed for the title of BBC Young Musician of the Year, each dramatically different in their approach and presentation.

First on, in traditional evening dress, was Ben Goldscheider, aged 18, already an award winner. He performed Richard Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto (1943), one of the composer’s final works. Technically demanding in the extreme, Goldscheider mastered more than the notes and put in a well-paced and committed performance. Intonation and articulation in the extended runs were excellent and his sound was well balanced with the BBCSO under Mark Wigglesworth. The contemplative passages in the second movement were nicely phrased, but overall the sound production was problematic, muffled rather than ringing.

Jess Gillam, 17, appeared in silver leggings and a graphic kimono top. Her choice of music was Michael Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances, composed for John Harle in 1991. She was in full command of the dance-like opening and was almost dancing herself as she conveyed the music’s energy and shifting rhythms. Attention to detail faltered towards the end, as her stamina possibly failed, but she communicated an individual and instinctive personality.

The final work was the Shostakovich performed by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 17. Whether impassioned or fragile, Kanneh-Mason made the Concerto his own. The intensity of the cadenza communicated this cellist’s innate musical intelligence.

While the jury deliberated there was another treat. Young Musician 2014 Martin James Bartlett played Prokofiev in sparkling style, following which Dobrinka Tabakova applauded the commitment of the BBC in supporting emerging musical talent. She announced the name of the winner with some emotion: Sheku Kanneh-Mason. “He was electric. In today’s society, which seems swept by mediocrity, he shows how hard work and dedication can lift you out.”

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