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.