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Sunday, 3 April 2011





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Endless re-interpretation and discovery

At the Royal Festival Hall, London:

The test of great music is its capacity for endless re-interpretation and discovery. Next is the test of a great performer whose ability is to reveal new depths and details in familiar scores and serve as a powerful bridge between audiences and the complexity of new and lesser known works. It is a challenge that one looks forward on entering the Southbank Centre.

This holy citadel of classical music has always mesmerised me in a bondage that never seems to find an end. Many of the orchestral concerts I attended and many were the conductors and pianists who had swept me off my feet.

Among them, my emotional inspiration was the iconic Vladimir Jurowski, the conductor of the London Philharmoic Orchestra with whom I fell artistically in love each time he weilded the baton. Such is the experience one feels, such is the magical aura that composers shower from heaven.

Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Valdimir Jurowski at rehearsal with some members of the LPO.

They touch the innermost chord of the human heart. The first time I attended a dress rehearsal of the Philharmonia Orchestra was when I missed a Jurowski performance almost by an hour.

Instead of sulking, I was drawn to the piano clatter of Denis Matsuev. It was so prolific and endearing I stood in silence for a moment before entering the rehearsal hall and for the first time, saw the charismatic Pietnev conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, which is a resident outfit at the Royal Festival Hall. Pietnew was amazing as all other iconic conductors are.

He was going through his orchestra in readiness for the Summer season, with Giazunov, Rachmaninov and Tchaikowsky among other sensational composers.

Variety of experiences

One of the things I admire mostly about the Southbank Centre with its Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room, is the variety of experiences to unveil from worldclass conductors like Vladimir Jurowski rolling down to Mikhail pitnew whom I just discovered, performing in the distinguished setting of Royal Festival hall to take me on a personal journey and reinvent the orchestral concert in the more intimate environment and reveal individual artistic stories that combine the talent of these wonderful and gifted musicians of hard committed work.

They perform the most profound and moving composers, taking in great symphonies and help us develop our own personal journeys. At times, I had come to a breaking point that blurred the distinction between symphonies and songs.

It is then, that I discovered the awesome influence that the LPO had on my life that led to an intimate relationship between song and the composer's symphonies. I also experienced a historic sweep of the piano repertoire of Denis Matsdev, the incredible richness of various expressions, especially playing Tchaikowsky. He is very forward-looking, open-minded and adventurous as his deft fingers caress the keys.

He is so flexible that playing the Masters come easy and create an exciting vision and flair. As I watched his commitment to the direction of Pietnev, I only have to say they looked a pair of scissors cutting sharp and if taken apart, drops dead. Such is the inter-action between the two. Naturally, tonight's composers came easy.

Tchaikovsky uncharastically was proud of his final work, 'The Patheique' saying it to be his very best and in particular, the most sincere of his compositions. More than 100 years after his death, it remains a towering achievement, anguished and highly emotional and a lasting monument to a tragic genius.

In the programme scheduled for summer it will be performed alongside the first part of Glazunov's from the middle ages. Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto which is one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, requiring both phenomenal techniques and exceptional lyricism. (Wish I heard this score being played under the baton of Vladimir Juronwski).

Tchaikovsky's Symphony

Exactly what is the programme? Tchaikovsky teasingly chose not to divulge, saying 'Let them puzzle their heads over it' after he wrote his 6th Symphony which is one of the greatest of his genre of a programme symphony the Pathetique.

The programme is a subjective through and through and during his journey, he often wept bitterly while composing it in his head. It is a lament for terrible woes (including homosexuality), its final movement surely the most pessimistic utterances in all music.

The whole work is proof that Tchaikovsky was happiest when he was sad, viewing his sorrow with detachment and enscapulating them in music of the utmost beauty.

Sergei Rachmaninov

Arguably the most technically difficult concerto in the standard repertoire for the soloist, who rarely gets a break in the magnificent knuckle breaker but Denis katsuev had some sympathy from conductor, Mikhail Pietnev who 'paused' in between to ease the pianist at today's rehearsal.

This is the finest of Rachmaninov's works for the piano and orchestra, tightly constructed with 'big tunes' in every movement with Russian melancholy and luxuriant orchestration.

Alexander Glazeunov" Luciously romantic and popular, Glazunov himself conducted an untidy recording of this score. His symphonies of 5,6 and 7 had greatly inspired the Prelude. Unless you are a Glazeunov admirer, it is somewhat cumbersome to read or hear his music.

I was also fortunate to watch the LPO, with its magnificent conductor, Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Eotvos Shadows for flute, amplified clarinet and ensemble, a former UK premier of the orchestral version. Later, he took over List's Piano Concerto No. 2 in A and Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony. They were contrasting works with List's thunderous piano concerto and Zemlinsky's mysterious symphony.


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