Sunday, October 30, 2016

Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra Taipei Concert on 2016/10/30

Time: 2016/10/30 (Sunday), 14:00-16:00 (approximately)
Venue: National Concert Hall, Taipei
Valery Gergiev (conductor), Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra
Andrei Ionuț Ioniță (cello)

Program: (in the order of performance)


musicsamples (online)performers
RossiniWilliam Tell OvertureLeonard Bernstein conducts New York PO
ShostakovichCello Concerto No. 1Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; LSO, Seiji Ozawa, conductor
TchaikovskySymphony No. 5Evgeny Mravinsky conducts Leningrad PO



What an amazing talent Andrei Ioniță is! A richly deserving gold medalist of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition (Cello), Ioniță chose to play his prize-winning (final-round) piece of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1, and did not disappoint. He not only navigated fiendishly difficult fast passagework and double stops with surprising confidence and skill, but also showed he could spin slow melodies with ease. In the encore, he showed his sense of pulse and style in the prelude from Bach's first cello suite in G. I was very much in awe of this 22-year-old cellist, who very much reminded me of young Mischa Maisky, the 6th-prize winner of the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition, even though their training (Germany vs. Soviet) and nationality (Romannian vs. Latvia/Israil) are very different. (Personally, I much prefer the young Maisky than the more mature one, but that is digression.)

The concert opened with Rossini's crowd-pleasing William Tell Overture. After just a few bars, we knew immediately what Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra could do with the theatrical works. (The only minor complaint was the less-than-stellar performance by the lead flautist.) The orchestra's affinity with the Russian work was in full display with concluding piece of the e minor symphony by Tchaikovsky (No. 5), which was premiered in 1888 by this very orchestra in Tsar Alexander III's St. Petersburg. Gergiev's subtle tempo variations and dynamics changes sounded totally idiomatic, and the marvelous orchestra responded with flair.  The finale culminated in a subtle accelerando in the closing bars of the coda, and the audience bursted into thundering applause.

For the encore, Gergiev played the Prelude to Lohengrin. It was a really good performance, and a showcase of the varieties of works the orchestra and the conductor were capable of. Even if this was indeed not an idiomatic account, in the way that those conducted by Kempe, Sawallisch, Barenboim or Abbado were, it had a refreshingly exotic tone overall and created an interestingly different, and perhaps equally valid, interpretation.

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