Friday, December 31, 2010

The boy has become a man!

(I am writing this as I am watching Cosi fan tutte on the ZDF Theaterkanal, which will be followed by a very funny production of Cinderella (the ballet), and a Berlinerised version of the Weiss Roessl Inn later - who needs to go out on a snowy winter's night?).

Last night at the Filharmonija it was the Kremerata Baltica with various soloists, but without Kremer. Note that one time Kremer, in one of his (many, largely complaining) biographical volumes, wrote scathingly about the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York, which always plays without a conductor - he felt it caused total chaos. Not in 'his own' orchestra, presumably, even though by virtue of age his players are much less experienced.

The group started with an arrangement of pieces ('Trilogy') from the Art of Fugue (Bach), by three composers. One wonders how three composers (Alexandras Raskatovas, Stevanas Kovacsas Tickmayeris and Raminta Serksnyte - can't help feeling that the first couple of names were lithuanised) collaborate on the same piece; but since there were more than 3 pieces, the 'trilogy' may relate to the trilogy of composers rather than pieces, especially given the style of the pieces - some were much more modern than others. The Kremerata belted along, giving its best - but does the cello really lead the band? Nice, vigorous playing.

This was to be followed by the Telemann viola concerto with Ula Zebriunaite, but she was nowhere to be seen...So instead the violin and viola leader played a piece of film music by Nyman; ah well, we have to put up with anything. I thought the viola player would also be effective in a heavy rock band; he's a very vigorous player with a beautiful sound where he plays lyrically.

Then, in a daisy chain of repetitions, we heard the Bach concerto for violin and oboe again - had only heard it three days ago....Again the violin was not all that audible, but I wonder whether it is because an oboe can cut through a bunch of strings better than another string player. Agne Doveikaite who I think won third or fourth prize at the Heifetz competition a couple of years ago has matured very well since then, and seemed to have a lot of fun, as did Juste Gelgotaite on oboe.

After the interval we had some Gorecki. Older UK listeners will remember his third symphony which hit the top of the classical pops at the time. It's kind of wallpaper, or mood, music - does not say anything specific, but I suppose some people like it. I think Gorecki died this year, so maybe it was 'in memoriam'. All the same, there is more exciting music, though the Kremerata did its best to enliven it.

Finally we had Chopin's first piano concerto (which can be played with a string quartet, I have a recording with Luisada of this) with the young Lithuanian/Russian genius, Lukas Geniusas. He had won the second prize in the Chopin piano competition (which launched Marta Argerich in her day) with an all-Chopin programme. It was very nice - the first movement seemed a bit fast, and the last one a bit lacklustre - could he not have made the first theme a bit funkier? People had raved about his performance of the second movement at the competition. But generally it was a very sound performance, and he got a standing ovation from the rear of the hall. He seemed much more comfortable on stage than a few years ago; I hope he goes further. The first encore was another Chopin piece, stunningly performed - and then followed by a Piazzolla (?) piece with the orchestra (When I went into the concert I was sure we'd have some Piazzolla.) So he can play stuff other than Chopin - this one was fun! I hope his career gets going now!