17 April, 2011

Concert Review: St Petersburg PO/Temirkanov

Concert Review: St Petersburg PO/Temirkanov

14 April, 2011, Carnegie Hall
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra-Yuri Temirkanov-Alisa Weilerstein

The St Petersburg is one of my favorite orchestras and I think Yuri Temirkanov is under-rated (as his predecessor Mravinsky is probably over-rated overall). Fortunately, they tour extensively (a reality for Russian orchestras, to earn hard cash), and it is not inoften that I get to enjoy them. NYC sees them often offering multiple concerts, and I attended the second of a pair.

The opener, Rimsky-Korsakov's Prelude to Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, received a wonderfully atmospheric reading, the gentle rumbling in the strings and pliant woodwind solos balanced in perfection. This is the kind of thing only Russians bring off, and much more enjoyable in the concert hall than on records, an illustration of the fact that, no matter how good your hifi is, a live atmosphere is most difficult to reproduce.

I have previously sung the praise of cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She proved a more than capable soloist in Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1. Neither her playing nor the accompaniment were the most razor-sharp: contours were a bit softened rather than (over) etched, phrases more flowing than emphatically punctuated. In her solo moments Weilerstein was more than a bit indulgent sometimes, but one admired her big temperament. Although one missed a little the sardonic wit of Shostakovich, the reading was eminently satisfying for the beautiful playing and emotional delivery.

Brahms has been previously featured by Temirkanov. His Fourth Symphony received a fresh reading from the Russian forces. One hesitates to say they brought a unique Russian quality to the reading. Instead, I think their innate musicianship and spontaneity stand them apart from the crowd. No risk of cliche's nor routine here. Even more than the previous pieces, the musicians gave a lesson on how to listen to and play with each other, while being utterly colorful in their solo's. Esnemble was not always immaculate, but the freshness of approach carried the day.

The encore was a magnificently noble rendition of Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations. It felt like an elegy.

No comments:

Post a Comment