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Friday, April 24, 2009

Rococo Variations for .... Viola...

Summer must be coming on....last Saturday the Filharmonija was half-empty; usually a clear indicator for warmer weather.  (Yes, I know this review is very very late, but folks, I was a bit busy!). Tomorrow there is nothing special, some chamber music concert - Capital of Culture - oh, the shame!

It was a mixture of Lithuanian, Russian and French music, conducted by the delectable Modestas Pitrenas. I have to say he has to loosen up; he still sticks to the script far too faithfully, like a conscientious little boy - but he could let fly. But then this reviewer saw Mikkel Futtrup last night, and that may now forever colour his views.

The first piece, a Dramatic overture by Julius Gaidelis (who he? A Lithuanian composer who was born 100 years ago), was ok; very standard stuff for the heady days of 1966 when it was written (but then, 1968 had not yet happened, the guy was almost sixty, and 1968 in the Paris meaning was a world away; here it was probably more like the Czech meaning).  Nothing much to set the heather alight; usual structure, fast(ish), slow, fast, with the trumpet theme at the beginning being really quite rough.

This was followed by the Ukrainian VIOLA player Maksim Rysanov playing his transcription of the Tchaikovsky 'Rococo Variations'.  The transcription worked actually very well - and came across well on his very dark viola (think foghorn). At the beginning I was not sure - the opening was a bit too light, with not enough commitment, I thought, but the last movement was stunning - totally virtuosic, with astonishing technique. Clearly he can play anything, and he is a solid East European performer. Alas, the Bach encore was also virtuosic - which a simple dance by Bach does not really require; it was too fast and the phrases were not recognizable. Shame, really. He'll just need to stick to the virtuosic repertoire, which on this showing he does wonderfully.

The second half, with Debussy's Iberia, was ok. I am not sure who had not got the Spanish thing about this music - was it Debussy or the conductor? It sounded very straight; every note in the right place, but lacked spirit.  The 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' was fuller of wow, and a good piece to end the concert on. Overall, though, apart from the Tchaikovsky, it was rather a straight and restrained concert.  'Tried hard', as people might say in school reports.



3 comments:

Amy said...

Hello from a fellow violist! I have much enjoyed reading your blog. I do wonder if you could help me a bit--I will be working in Vilnius this summer, and I would like to take lessons while I am there. Do you know any good viola teachers in the area? You would seem to be quite knowledgeable about this...thanks in advance!

Peter said...

Hi Amy

it might be a bit difficult in summer, if it is July and August - viola teachers tend to be away resting or touring with orchestras; any particular time?

I'll try to put a link to my email address into the site, which might make it easier....

Amy said...

Yes, sorry to be posting, but I couldn't find another means of reaching you.

I'll be there from the end of May until the beginning of August. It would be understandable that people are taking the summer off or at music festivals elsewhere...