19 November, 2008

Concert Review: Kirov/Mariinksy/Gergiev

November 16th, 2008
Kirov Orchestra/Mariinksy Theater Chorus/Gergiev
Prokofiev/Love for Three Oranges
Avery Fisher hall

This concert performance of the "opera" Love for Three Oranges was part of Gergiev's Fall survey of Prokofiev's theater works with the Kirov Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theater. Too bad I had to miss the performance next day, of Ivan The Terrible and Alexander Nevsky, the latter among my favorite Prokofiev! Note that in Spring Gergiev is giving the complete symphony cycle with the LSO and I just might be able to catch that, I hope!

The orchestra is not that big, with 12 players in each violin section. Yet, they gave an awesome performance that dwarfs everything Prokofiev that I have heard before, even including Munich/Celibedache's magisterial performance of the 5th symphony some years ago in HK. Tribute must be paid to the all-encompassing conducting of Gergiev, as detailed in the
New York Times review. However, the virstuosity of the orchestra muct also be acknowledged. Every phrase was telling and meaningful. As more often than not, Russian players give you their all and in this performance the Kirov players definitely rolled up their sleeves and bared their souls. The chorus had more males than females and for sure Russian virility. There were a total of TWELVE singers, all very good. The whole was even more than the sum of its considerable parts. A triumph.

The score's greatness was fully revealed. No, listening to CDs would not do this piece justice (you'd be lucky if you make it through).

The performance makes you really ponder the empty slogans used to promote many also-run conductors and orchestras. And I don't just mean HKPO/EdW, I likely mean NYPO/Maazel too.

There is a whole contigent out there worshipping mediocrity, giving standing ovations to undeserving performances. Sign of the times. Thankfully, we still have the Russians.

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