Saturday, February 14, 2009

All is forgiven!

A packed Filharmonija tonight, for the concert of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra under its new artistic director and conductor Sergey Krilov. Even Mr Kevisas, the supremo of all things musical in Lithuania, was there - and the company Lindt was handing out chocolates (why?). No benefit to me, that, I don't like chocolate all that much.

The programming was Mozart, Mendelssohn and Mozart. When I listened to, and watched, the symphony No 15, I thought 'a conductor he ain't'. No sign of a beat. Ok, this Mozart-experienced orchestra does not need a beat, but I wondered how he and they might get on with a contemporary piece with complicated rhythms. I was also a bit puzzled when, before starting, he turned a page or two, as if he were looking at a tricky place, trying to remember it. In conducting Mozart? He just went with the tune....His right hand movements reminded me of my beloved dog Arran who would beg like that with her right front paw. But anyway. In the piece there could have been more contrasts, but it was ok.

This was followed by Mendelssohn's violin concerto. Again, I thought - everyone is playing it. And why does he need sheet music for a piece as well-known as this? Then they started. What was this? Was this Mendelssohn? In fact it was his violin concerto in d-minor, rather than the well-known e-minor concerto. Strange piece, with a very classical first movement (you'd never guess it was Mendelssohn), and rather strange second and third movements - though the third movement had at least a rondo format. Both had extended places of only solo fiddling, and other places where the soloist played like crazy but it could not be heard over the band. It was good to have heard it, but it's clear why it is not often played. Very virtuosic, I think, and well played. I liked the Rondo theme, which was quite hungarian and suitably roughly played.

Finally, yet again Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. Ah well, it's the first time I've heard it this year (and it's only February!). They played very nicely, though I am not sure if they were entirely in emotional tune with each other, sort of slightly talking past each other; Krilov seemed to have more bite than Naidin, the viola soloist. Beautiful sound of both instruments, and clearly Krilov is a great violinist. They got excellent applause from the hall, and then...

...and then....

they gave an encore, of the Handel-Halvorsen passacaglia, one of my very favourite violin-viola duets (see a very talented but also very funny video above, with Clarence and Oliver playing it). Thank you, thank you, guys. It was just great! Possibly that of Elmar Oliveira and Paul Neubauer at the 2004 viola congress was even more risk-taking, but it was just great to hear the piece. Somehow I managed to start a standing ovation - I was behind and above the orchestra, I stood up and the whole audience shot up; normally it's creeping death from the back of the hall to the front. That was really well deserved.