Sunday, December 17, 2006

More Shostakovich!

Back home in Vilnius, last night I got my regular Filharmonija fix. It was Shostakovich and Rakhmaninov.

Started with a small suite of pieces from 'The Gadfly' - some film music in which the orchestra was at its lush best. Then Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, the very young German cellist, with the Shostakovich cello concerto, who played the same piece in Kiev in September. This time I felt that it was a little bit less energetic than before - I think much of it can be played quite dirty, with lots of lovely cello crunches. But it was played with total confidence and ease. Afterwards she told me that she had had to learn the piece in 3 days (and consign it to memory) - It helped her win a competition in France. Astonishing! Apparently she is now involved with the Kronberg Academy, which is the German cradle for good cellists, and also with Gidon Kremer and his Lockenhaus Festival. She will go far with connections like that.

Strangely, in the morning, listening a discussion on BBC Radio 3, someone was complaining about a female cellist being compared to Jacqueline Du Pre, on account of her hair. Young Ms Hecker also has hair like Ms Du Pre....

This piece was followed by 'The Bells', a choral symphony by Rakhmaninov based on poems by Edgar Allan Poe (did he not write some well known crime story?), with a choir and three soloists. One of the soloists was a Latvian tenor called Viesturs Jansons... I wonder if he might be related to Maris Jansons, the conductor, in which case this would be another East European musical dynasty. This review of another performance refers to the piece's lyrical beauty; hmm, well, there was not that much lyricism in this performance apart from the second movement (Asta Kriksciunaite, soloist); it was quite a 'pin your ears back, it's going to be noisy' type of performance. Only very occasionally did choir and orchestra run themselves down to something less than a double forte.