Alexander Polianichko led the CSO in week two of Slavic-themed concerts with an all Russian program featuring the CSO Chorus.
The evening began with a piece I love to hear, the "Procession of the Nobles" by Rimsky-Korsakov. The brass and percussion sounded great. The chorus was gorgeous; I had never heard the choral version of this piece. This was followed by the Aria from Aleko by Rachmaninov. I had never heard this piece before but it was quite nice, and featured bass Jordan Bisch, who had a full basso sound that easily filled the hall.
The first half ended with the Suite from Swan Lake, which was of course an orchestral showpiece. It was here that conductor Alexander Polianichko got to show off his chops. He got a great performance out of the orchestra without having to do much as a conductor.
The second half was equally exciting. Borodin's “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor were luscious with the chorus. Mussorgsky's “Coronation Scene” from Boris Godunov was another fine performance although marred by problematic playback of pre-recorded bells.
The finale of the evening was another Tchaikovsky showpiece, the 1812 Overture. Unfortunately I've been spoiled by hearing this live at the Esplanade with fireworks and cannons. Yet I had never heard the chorale version, and hearing the voices in person made it a very special night.
It's nice to have the orchestra back, but I'd love to have a regular conductor instead of the revolving door on the guests. The house was much better this week, mostly full on the lower lever, and the liner notes were much better than the previous week.