Excellent review of Nicholson’s ‘Spindrift’, performed by Madeleine Mitchell

George Nicholson’s work Spindrift was performed by Madeleine Mitchell, in St Andrew’s Church, Sheffield, on 25 November, and it has received a glowing review from Paul Conway. Conway describes the concert as a highlight of the St Andrew’s Music Festival and he writes: ‘Madeleine Mitchell then took centre stage to play George Nicholson’s Spindrift, a substantial piece for solo violin in seven interrelated, but stylistically diverse movements, the last three of which were receiving their first public performance, according to the programme note. Taking its title from sea spray, Spindrift was written for Madeleine Mitchell between Autumn 2021 the end of 2022 and the music suited admirably the violinist’s impressively broad expressive range, from intimate musing to bold, sweeping gestures.

'Each movement offered different challenges for the player, from the second’s furtive opening in very high register to the third’s extreme dynamic contrasts and the fifth’s relaxed, hushed series of harmonics to the sixth’s carefully placed pizzicato statements. Forming an impassioned central climactic point, the fourth movement presented imposing chordal sequences enclosing a softly eloquent, directly expressive episode. The final seventh movement was the most extended and varied, encapsulating all the previous material in a deeply considered summation. In the closing bars, the solo line faded away with an illimitable, ever-ascending glissando, the last of several inventive effects in the score, imaginatively interpreted by Madeleine Mitchell. It is a tribute to the refinement and subtlety of her artistry that this often demanding and intricate music was able to unfold with a feeling of exploration and interpretative freedom within the context of a cogent, carefully planned framework.

‘In this satisfying and enjoyable recital, consummate musicianship was placed entirely at the service of wide-ranging and stimulating repertoire.’