Saturday, November 08, 2008

The pianist and the pineapple

The Filharmonija was only half-full tonight. Shame - they missed a great performance! Even worse - the concert was broadcast throughout Europe, but thankfully only on radio.

The Lithuanian National Symphony orchestra, under the delightful Modestas Pitrenas, started with Barkauskas' Konzertstück No 2. A fantastic piece in three parts, which opened with a blast of an ascending motif by the trumpets which was then passed around the very large orchestra, including two ...xylophones (metallophones? could not see). This was followed by a more lyrical middle section; the end had a different ascending melody, more of a scale, but which still resembled the first motif. A great piece for opening a concert!

Edvinas Minkstimas then joined the orchestra for Bartok's third piano concerto. Very Bartok, opening with a vaguely familiar folk melody; the second movement made me think of a Sunday evening in a village, with the sun slowly going down, some of the village people singing a hymn in a village church....The final movement seemed more 'modern', moving some way away from folk music.  I wondered what Adorno might have thought of it, and whether he would have approved - he was not really into incorporating 'folk music' into Serious Music. Minkstimas played beautifully - the orchestral forces had been reduced, and I wondered if that was a good idea. The first violins sounded a bit lacklustre at the beginning of the first movement, and did not seem to match the pianist's energy.

Finally Prokofief's fifth symphony. It reminded me of Russian film music (which I love - Shostakovich's 'The Fall of Berlin' is quite something else). This could have been a story of a young man from a remote village who goes into the city to work in a factory - the second movement (which I know quite well) could have been a wonderful setting for him looking wondrously all of city life, from thousands of people doing gymnastics in a park to the relentless and ever-faster pace of factory work. The third movement might have been him returning to the village, but with city ideas and finally, at the end of the last movement, he might have realised that life will never be quite as it was, and he might be suffering a never-ending conflict in his soul, trying to combine his village outlook with the pressures of city life.

The orchestra came into its own in this piece, with particularly the viola section in the second to fourth movements pouring lashings and lashings of warm dark chocolate over the rest of the orchestra. Welldone, Arunas! The standing ovation was well-deserved!


violainvilnius said...

Oh yes, the pineapple?

The pianist received a pineapple from a delighted audience member. Ho hum.