Trio: Encore

30 March 2012

Russian Extravaganza
Alexander Glazunov – Les Ruses d’amour (Ballet)
Dmitri Shostakovich – Cello Concert No.1 in E-flat major Op.107
Sergei Prokofiev – Scythian Suite

Dirigent: Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Soloist: Jan Vogler

So this author went for his 2nd dose of Rozhdestvensky + SSO virtually on impulse, deciding immediately after watching the first one. Due to a very interesting “feature”, Sistic disallowed booking of 2 adjacent seats when there were 3 available, and thus we ended up a AA 92 – the right-front-most region of Circle 2. Whatever concerns over neck craning and sound imbalance were dispelled when we realised that it was prime position, providing a view from right above Rozhdestvensky.


Alexander Glazunov – Les Ruses d’amour (Ballet)

In an approximate inverse of the Overture-Concerto-Symphony template, the ballet took off with little pomp. Its length did little to the rich texture and range of expression, such that this author, who was certain of falling asleep somewhere in the middle of the concert, had little to worry about in that aspect. The SSO sounded that much more organic, and, driven by the slick strokes of the conductor, maintained an airtight ensemble that did nothing to downplay the incredible tone palette displayed on this night. The Farandole helped to liven up the mood just in time for the aptly named Grande Valse, “in which Damis expresses his true love for Isabella whatever her station in life” (in Marc Rochester’s Words). After that “dramatic highlight” came the musical and emotional climax – the violin and cello duet, featuring Ng Pei Sian and Alexander Souptel in an intense dialogue worthy of new lovers in their honeymoon phase. A rousing but apt finale rounded up the 50 minute musical high tea buffet.

On a lighter note, in the middle of one of the movements, perhaps the Farandole, Rozhdestvensky’s baton flew (rather gracefully might I add) out of his grasp, to which he did nothing more than continue for two beats without a baton, and in one smooth motion worthy of a master-level sleight-of-hand, produced another (shorter) baton and proceeded with the upbeat to the next measure.

It seems that “Love’s Trickery” did not fail to please both musically and magically.

Looks like no one decided to upload even an excerpt of this rather brilliant specimen of a ballet, so here’s a filler depicting my thoughts on that unfortunate omission.


Dmitri Shostakovich – Cello Concert No.1 in E-flat major Op.107

The cello concerto brought mixed reactions, especially among the cellists. I, for one, had little if no conception of it. Vogler gave a direct, almost no-frills interpretation that was characterised by short choppy strokes on the repeated notes. The slow movement was much more lush and heartfelt, and, allowing me wide berth for assumptions, given the nature of his instrument the tone suited it readily. 7 minutes of a distilled, extended cadenza followed, and delivered with nail-biting intensity. A combination of the sheer technical demands, the nature of his instrument, and possibly the weight of Rostropovich’s legacy (the piece was dedicated to him) caused a few slips, and noticeable disappointment towards the end of the titanic cadenza. The final movement went ahead with full velocity, but robbed of some momentum over the previous one, and despite the solo instrument being nearly drowned out towards the end, the giant of entire cello repertoire was brought to a relentless finish.

Vogler gave an encore of the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G major.

“Shostakovich should have marked the score ‘for Slava (Rostropovich) only.” – Citation needed.

Vogler with SSO:

P.S. Just for fun – can’t believe this is available on youtube:


Sergei Prokofiev – Scythian Suite

Originally designed to recreate (or better) the riot caused by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite was a veritable 20 minute long roller coaster in a concert hall (or as some would put it, canned whoopass).  The orchestra enters in a fast and furious explosion – at this time the author is has just listened to Respighi’s Pines of Rome and is currently listening to this piece, and notices with some irony how similar both works’ opening salvoes are. The wonderful cacophony (or, technically, dissonances) and dialogue lucidly materialised, with Rozhdestvensky giving his trademark hand signals as though he was part of the main orchestra. After an eerie third movement, the raucous finale offered only a brief respite, before mounting into an epic anticlimax consisting of an over-laboured final “chord”.


Addendum: This concert may be Alexander Souptel’s last as concertmaster of SSO, if his contract is not renewed.


About jfkwt

A little person on a little island in a little planet

Posted on April 2, 2012, in Concert Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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