Sunday, May 03, 2009

A near miss!

There I was at home, 18.34, after a slightly dull day (public holiday, town dead) planning to go clubbing later in the evening, and looking to see what else might be on yesterday, today, tomorrow....when I spotted a State Symphony Orchestra concert, starting at 19.00. Wow! Changed into concert clothes, including a new shirt (worried in case some pins were left in it) and shot off across the road to the Kongresu Rumai.

It was a fully romantic concert, Strauss (Richard), Bruch, and Berlioz - playing to a half-empty concert hall - what else would you expect on a sunny long weekend evening? The conductor was Adrian Brown, the soloist Sasha Rozhdestvensky, stated to be one of Russia's 'finest young violinists' whom Menuhin pronounced to be 'one of the most talented and gifted violinists of his generation'. Sometimes I worry about the number of violinists carrying similar Menuhin statements around with him; Menuhin was kind of a polite guy, but he must also have been aware of the weight these kind of statements carry. Père Rozhdestvensky is that famous conductor, Gennady of that ilk.

The State Symphony Orchestra has changed a bit - seems like ages since I was there.

The programme was really all a bit old-hat; cheap in terms of performance rights, I expect. Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel, quite nicely played, though the first violinist was really rather dodgy in every one of her solos. I haven't been to that orchestra's concerts for ages, so I don't know if she is now the permanent leader or not (the other one, Zbigniev Levickas, would have done it beautifully).

Young Sasha Rozhdestvensky is indeed a violinist with a very beautiful tone. I was a bit surprised that he played the Bruch concerto (which I have heard now for this fifth time this year, in Vilnius) from sheet music. Is that not something so basic, in terms of repertoire, that one should know it from memory? I am not sure about his interpretation, though. It was rather old-fashioned, with lots of portamento and rubato; the way it might have been played 100 years ago, but is probably not really played now. But it's the Russian way, perhaps. His encore was a simple Bach piece; played better than Maxim Rysanov's Bach 6 days earlier - quite good, really. I wonder, though, if no-one else has written any encores for violin solo?

At the interval I asked what the final piece would be.....it was Berlioz' Fantastic Symphony; one of my favourite pieces! And to think that I might have missed that! It was great! The orchestra did really well - the quiet places they played as quietly as I rarely heard them play; the percussion - the fabulous Pavelas Giunteris and colleagues - was awesome, eery, threatening, overwhelming, everything as required. The violas laid down a wonderful solo (the cellos were a bit lacking in feeling, but it's that leader) - it was a great performance! Brown came across as a very secure and reliable conductor - one who really beats a beat (many conductors don't) and he really brought out the best of the orchestra.

Some time after the concert, tried to do a bit more clubbing...went to the cellar of the Neringa Hotel which advertises itself as having famous Lithuanian singers (live, presumably). At around 11 pm it was fairly deserted; had a small party and some men on their own, including me; plus a DJ and some canned music.....Luckily it also had a book shelf, though the only English book within my reach was that on the Rachel Nickell murder, written by her husband for the mass market - not exactly cheery stuff. Left after I finished my beer. This is not great - at what time do these Lithuanians get out?