The International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove, gave a concert on 21 July in the Wigmore Hall to celebrate its 40th Anniversary in the same year as the centenary of its founder, Sandor Vegh.
Vegh was a violinist, great and important, leader of the famous Vegh String quartet who concertized here and worldwide in the forties and fifties, making recorded cycles of Beethoven's late quartets and Bartok's that are still among the very best available. Vegh was also a great teacher and, in later years he became known as a conductor of eminence.
Vegh started giving master-classes at the Summer School at Dartington in the fifties, later at Prussia Cove in Cornwall where annually were given two courses, one for string players and one for chamber music. They have continued to this year, guided by two prominent Vegh followers, Andras Schiff and Steven Isserlis (the latter now the director.)
What was special about the musicianship of Sandor Vegh? Well, his playing had authority, profundity and technical ability but he also had an extra-special feeling for fantasy and colour. He felt that too many musicians connected too strongly only with the printed page. The greatest performers always give the impression that they have also spent long hours improvising so that they have developed a sensory relationship with their instrument that they could never have got if they only ever played from printed notes. Vegh's feeling for the different colours and textures available on his violin set him apart. He would change the sound colour not for the sake of changing it, but in order to illuminate the music. He also could seem to add to the violin the character of the voice and the dance. The shape and sounds of what he played were conjured out of his brain, his experience and his intuition. Because of this he was able to teach and impart to his pupils. And the memory of his teaching is what his followers impart to those who come nowadays to Prussia Cove. And each year his students past and present make tours which include a Wigmore Hall concert. It was an evening on July 21 of momentous playing after a day of teaching. Thirteen distinguished players took part in outstanding performances of the G minor string quintet of Mozart, Contrasts by Bartok, for clarinet, violin and piano, ending with the Piano Quintet by Schumann.
The majority of the names of the players might not be known to the majority of Mus. Op. readers (except for that of Steven Isserliss on cello and perhaps Katherine Gowers the violinist) and it might be invidious to mention names but the players represented the cream of chamber music players working in Britain.
They were all worthy to be taking part in these peaks of the chamber music repertoire; it was an evening of great music making, Prussia Cove at its usual best, keeping alive remembrance of the great Sandor Vegh.