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Published date: July 12, 2019
Last modified: July 12, 2019

Young Critics Review 2019 – Michael Petrov (by Martha Skerry)

Michael Petrov (cello) – Bach by Candelight

Michael Petrov is a Bulgarian cellist who has won awards such as the ECHO rising star 2015/16 and was a Young Artist at the 2015 Lichfield festival. Michael has performed at many events in Europe, the US and China and has soloed with the CBSO Youth Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra. He plays an IB Vuillaume Cello made in 1846.

The cathedral was almost dark. The audience lit candles placed inside golden sconces. These contrasted with the echoey, dark, ornate ceilings of the Cathedral. We were greeted with a bow and suddenly, Michael burst into his first piece. Throughout the whole performance, you could tell that he was feeling the music. With small movements of his eyebrows, Petrov told a story more passionately than a hundred actors. The whole room was silent apart from the beautiful melodies that flew from his cello. I loved the way his fingers danced up and down the neck of his cello and he created the texture of a trio or even a quartet by using techniques such as double-stopping and vibrato and excellent contrast in dynamics whilst still being gentle and fluid. There was such grace in the way he played and this allowed the audience to contemplate and respect the music whilst understanding a story without words. As Michael was the only person on stage, there was a small break as he turned pages, however, this gave me a chance to understand and enjoy the music so I wouldn’t change it.

After two incredible pieces, Michael finally spoke to us. He implied that we had now got to know him. He told us about his next piece and said simply “I hope you enjoy it – it’s short.” Then he played an unusual and beautiful piece where his cello was tuned differently. This was an incredible alternative piece that changed my viewpoint on music forever. Petrov used a wider variety of techniques to interest the audience. The use of colegno, plucking and harmonics were beautifully delivered and added texture to the piece. The entire piece was haunting with conflicting emotions portrayed throughout. One was fearful whilst the other was aggressive. This piece was by far my favourite and left me stunned.

Overall, I really enjoyed this performance because it showed great amounts of skill, technicality and elegance. The audience gave him a rapturous applause that seemed to go on forever. Combined with the ornate aesthetic of the Cathedral the performance was delicate and feisty at the same time. This was a beautiful performance that I would recommend to anyone who wants to or does enjoy classical music.

By Martha Skerry