Monday, May 25, 2009

Wonders will never cease!

Got a big surprise after the end of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra's contribution to the Vilnius Festival - see below.

The programming involved the delightful Osvaldas Balakauskas' symphonic poem 'Tetra', Prokofiev's second piano concerto, and Skriabin's third symphony.  I had some misunderstanding about Tetra; I thought it was an early work (of the 70s) but it is in fact a work of 2007; quite recent, therefore.  It's a piece for full, very full orchestra, including piano (I did not see one, but maybe it was under the balcony, and thus under me), lots of percussion, and harp. I am not sure the textures really came through - the way it was performed it was rather a lot of noise; maybe it is meant to be like that, maybe not. Not sure if 'Tetra' is a Lithuanian word (it's not in my dictionary), or whether it is related to 3, as in 'tetrapak'. Oh dear, the associations we have. Would need to listen to it again.

This was followed by Prokofiev's second piano concerto; a piece I did not know at all.  Toradze is apparently a great Prokofiev expert; he has recorded all Prokofiev's five concertos and his recording of the third has been described as 'historically the best on record, out of over 70 recordings (Wikipedia reports).  This one was a momentous work; in a kind of baroque structure with four movements, but that's where the baroque stops. Technically it looked, and sounded, awesome - with long, very long, composed cadenzas, and a serious physical work-out for the pianist.  Toradze, for the big guy that he is, has the most amazing soft touch, where required - I bet as a dancer he'll be light on his feet, as some people of that size are.

Finally we had Skriabin's third symphony, another piece I don't know at all (theme of the evening?). Again a stunning piece, with lovely violin lines (cannot remember that much about it, to be honest, two days after the event). Three movements, played in one; it went down very well indeed.

The surprise? I never thought that Domarkas can speak English, but here both he and Toradze (who lives in America but is a Georgian who studied in Russia; he and Domarkas go back a long way) spoke English all evening. Usually Domarkas speaks Lithuanian and takes no prisoners with soloists who do not share this language (ie ALL foreigners).  And his English is good!  It confirmed my idea that he is a Lithuanian nationalist. At the post-concert reception there was a flavour of anti-Russian Georgian and Lithuanian nationalism in the air; ah well.