Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Night In Russia

Last Monday, Lorin Maazel conducted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) here in Singapore with works by Russian masters Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Modest Mussorgsky. The first half consisted of two works by Tchaikovsky - Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, the latter featuring a young Russian violinist Lidia Baich in a ravishing red gown as the soloist.

The high point of the first half is no doubt the first movement of the Violin Concerto that night. Lidia Baich played with such emotional intensity which left the entire concert hall breathless. She charmed the whole hall in the two heart-stirring themes before bursting out in the dazzling cadenza to conclude the movement.

The last movement was slightly disappointing, for the soloist failed to elevate or even sustain the emotional peak in the first movement. As the music entered into the concluding bars, she gave me the idea she didn't quite have the stamina to meet the technical demands of the last movement when the music is supposed to reach its peak. Well, I'm still willing to sit through the entire work just for the most heartwarming first movement. Throughout the work, SSO did an excellent job as a backdrop supporting the soloist under the baton of maestro Lorin Maazel.

The second half features the most famous work by Modest Mussorgsky and most famous orchestration of Maurice Ravel - Pictures At An Exhibition. The various soloists for the different movements played their parts truly well, with my personal favourite movement being the fourth - saxophonist as the soloist. I just felt that Lorin Maazel took the tempo for some particular movements much faster than what they are supposed to be played.

All in all, I did enjoy this enchanting journey into the heart of Russian culture.


Margarita said...

It sounds like it was a beautiful night, indeed! Music makes wonders, doesn't it? Thank you for the post!


Anonymous said...

sorry, I disagree. the violin concerto was the low point of the whole night, she played badly. very badly. her technique was clearly not there, and her tone was only due to the fantastic instrument which she was playing on.
I would thus like to propose, that the high point of the first half was the Romeo and Juliet Overture. Maazel made it sound 'new'. (and i've heard at least 15 different interpretations of the overture).
Personally, I felt that Maazel conducting the Pictures at an Exhibition too *slowly*.

solitudex said...

As for Pictures at an Exhibition, I wasn't exactly referring to the whole work being played too fast. He took some of the fast movements slower than they should but the slow movements faster than they were supposed to be played at. It was basically just the contrast that was lacking to me.

As for the Violin Concerto, maybe we're talking about different areas (technical and musical aspects). As I personally don't play the violin, I just thought that commenting on the techniques wasn't appopriate. But I believe the reason that she couldn't quite bring out the beauty of the second and third movement as well was probably due to her technique and endurance. In my post, I was referring to her ability to bring out the music, not her technical abilities (though I have to agree that they overlap to a certain extent).

Thanks so much for sharing your views on the music. I really appreciate and enjoy them. I'm surprised to have a musician from Singapore who went to the same concert visit this banal blog of mine.