Concert Review: Neeme Järvi & Vadim Repin
18 & 19 Jan ’12
Eduard Tubin – Estonian Dance Suite
Reminiscent of Wiren and having hints of the Romanian Dances (by Bartok if I’m not mistaken) the Estonian Dance Suite was simple, not extremely elegant but thoroughly enjoyable. Drone instruments, dissonances and generally chords that I am unable to identify but were of rustic harmonic character.
There were slight ensemble problems but overall a very interesting performance of a work by written by a compatriot of the conductor’s that I have never heard before and would like to hear again.
Sergei Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63
Repin did his classic rousing show, bringing a very solid, not extremely beautiful (in the way Hahn did Prokofiev 1 several years ago) tone which was nonetheless highly apt for the style of Prokofiev 2. That was not to say the lyrical parts were aggressive, just that the “zhk” sound was present throughout – even in the 2nd movement bow was evenly bitten into the string. One of the more ethereal moments was when his line was alternately above and below (“drowned out”) by the tutti in the 3rd movement, but his “zhk” articulation was still barely audible.
Again, some ensemble problems (the last 2 notes stood out especially), and a slightly slow start for Repin (left hand, which I noticed because I’m facing the same problem), but it didn’t stop him from drawing his sound his way out of his Guarneri del Gesu (1743 “Bonjour”, nice name) in a tone that I feel is less popular nowadays and rings of the old school Russian Style (in my opinion).
A/N: Could anyone better informed correct me regarding my opinion over his tone production and style, if required. Thanks in advance =)
Apparently, his teacher was quite someone.
Encore: Nicolo Paganini – Variations on “Carnival of Venice”
(I used this video as the other one has been linked on my facebook wall)
I learnt of the existence of this piece from the variations for flute, over 5 years ago. This is probably a mash-up and possibly modified version of Paganini’s variations on the Carnival of Venice. Enjoy!
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64
Arguably the main course we were waiting for after Repin’s dessert, Tchaikovsky’s 5th was also extremely significant as a precursor to NUSSO’s attempt to tackle it this March.
The first movement ratcheted up the tempo much faster and to a greater degree that most amateur orchestras would dare to play it, and incidentally I found little wrong with that interpretation – that Tchaikovsky was irate would be an understatement, and the uneven rhythms (the dotted quaver-semiquaver & triplet figuration) made more sense rushed and hurried, if in a systematic way. Some tension was lost with the speeding up but generally a convincing first movement with some miscommunication between the winds and the strings. Our seat (stalls foyer) seemed bad for hearing the horns as some horn articulations sounded late and odd from that place . Thankfully, slight rushing between sections somehow did not lead to abrupt dialogue, perhaps helped by our seating position as well as by the nature of the phrases.
Second movement started way too fast, and I would like to hear the rationale behind that tempo, even though my limited experience may not be able to help my comprehension. Tension was quickly built up but the temporal effect was so quick that the overall feeling became “that’s it?” instead of that of anticipation. The strings did a fantastic job at the Romantic hairpins and the horn solo had an appropriate tempo but the surrounding buildups and transitions had so little time to develop it was kind of unsatisfying having to hear it. Perhaps it was a dark joke by the conductor signifying unrequited love (2nd movement is the “love” theme if I’m not mistaken), which was much more convincingly done towards the end of the movement, which was forward moving and -looking until the very last few notes.
The 3rd was probably the most satisfying movement, with the clarity and ensemble on knife’s edge the SSO seemed to perform better than when ensemble seemed less difficult on paper. Voicing was clear and dialogue was passed rather neatly, as far as my memory serves.
4th movement was exciting, and despite some ensemble problems (apparently the timpani’s which I did not notice, and the brasses which I did) the tempo was apt and shaped the music well. Apart from the strings threatening to go racing at the start of the movement, the orchestra responded and brought the whole symphony to a rousing finish, without dragging the last march section like some interpretations do, which I found thoroughly refreshing.
Some overall comments included a lack of detail, of which I did not find to be a lack of clarity, just perhaps time to rehearse through said detail. Tone of certain winds was also another concern, which I found to be generally likeable but with some entries attacked a tad harsh, but that is to my strings-trained ear. Intonation and general tone was of minor problems even though ensemble and a mutual understanding between sections seemed to be slightly shaky even if not glaringly dangerous.
Finally, the encore that made everything all right (alright) again.
Jean Sibelius – Andante Festivo
(A/N: Can’t believe it has 64 views)
Despite the cliché, you had to be there. When that first note rang out, it practically became the Andante Festivo, the one that I have been waiting to hear, and the one which upon hearing I may die happy thereafter. It left me a bit in tears and a little shell-shocked, and a little violated for not being given ample warning of its coming, and even as the last firmata (of arbitrarily great length) was played with indefinitely changing bows from the strings, everyone present was (hopefully) moved in one way or another. Bravissimi