THIS year's Lake District Summer Music Festival was brought to a close with a fine concert given by the National Youth String Orchestra under their conductor Damian Iorio, writes CLIVE WALKLEY.

Performing at Ambleside Parish Church, the young violinist Mathilde Milwidsky was soloist in Mendelssohn’s youthful first violin concerto, written when the composer was just 13.

The orchestra, which trains string players up to the age of 21, was founded in 1995 and the concert in Ambleside was the culmination of a week’s preparation.

The programme was technically and musically demanding but the standard of playing throughout the evening reached a very high level.

The tone was rich and powerful when such qualities were required, but velvet-like in pianissimo passages; tuning was impeccable.

The programme opened with Benjamin Britten’s powerful Prelude and Fugue for 18 strings and right from the first chord it was obvious that this was going to be a special concert.

The players showed no signs of timidity as they launched into this challenging piece, performed with such vitality.

Two elegiac pieces followed. Arvo Pärt’s beautiful Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten is a slow-moving piece in which a bell tolls periodically as the strings quietly unfold their melodic material.

The piece begins and ends in silence – a silence written into the score.

In order to avoid intrusive applause the conductor wisely chose to immediately follow the Pärt with the next piece, Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings, written during the closing stages of World War II when Strauss was distraught by the Allied bombing of the opera houses of Dresden and Vienna.

This is a lengthy piece (27 minutes in duration) and to sustain the long, slow-moving melodic lines requires a great deal of technical control.

Again, one marvelled not only at the technical skill of the young players but the level of sensitivity and obvious understanding of the music.

Mendelssohn’s early violin concerto is not as memorable as his ever-popular later work but it does contain all the ingredients required of a concerto: a showy cadenza and much virtuoso passage work for the soloist.

Mathilde Milwidsky is a beautifully sensitive player. She dealt with the solo part brilliantly; her dazzling technique and exquisite legato playing of the composer’s melodic lines made a deep impression.

The concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s joyful Serenade for strings, a wonderful finale to the two-week feast of music, the brainchild of its founder, Renna Kellaway, and so expertly managed by Kim Sergeant and his team.

We look forward to Lake District Summer Music 2019.