Sunday, March 01, 2009

Russian Masters

The Colorado Symphony had an excellent concert over the weekend of 5 pieces by Russian masters. The concert was quite full in length and the hall had a good crowd.

The concert began with an early Stravinsky work, Fireworks. Not his best or most interesting piece, the orchestra played well on it.

The concert continued with Rachmaninoff's orchestration of Vocalise. I know I'm in the minority on this, but I don't think it's one of his best works. It's not well-developed, and the orchestration is not great; he simply put a vocal part in the violins and never really balanced the rest of the orchestra well. Nonetheless, it's a very popular piece (even though there is only one fragment of melody that is brilliant). The orchestra was OK on it, but the violins were strangely not together on the melody.

The third piece was one of the highlights of the evening, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. One of the most lyrical pieces ever written, it's also a masterpiece of string orchestration. He gets amazing sounds out of the orchestra. The performance was impeccable, and Kahane's conducting was wonderful. The elegy may be one of the most beautiful melodies ever composed.

I had never heard the full Prokofiev Symphonic Suite from The Love for Three Oranges performed live (only the famous March), so it was quite a pleasure to hear Kahane's performance, which was quite good. The orchestra does quite well on the fully orchestrated pieces. And they found quite a bit of humor in the piece.

The final piece was the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, which is not one if his best pieces. Soloist Chee-Yun, violin, looked positively stunning in her dress, and performed quite well. She was also quite friendly to the crowd and stayed for an encore - the only one I've seen in quite a while. Her projection of her instrument was not as good as other violin soloists that I have heard in the hall. But she did play the piece lyrically and seemed to get more comfortable as she went along.

It was a great night.
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