Once the dust had been resettled in my mind after the Moscow Philharmonic – under the vigorous leadership of Yuri Simonov – had left the building, I was left with various images in my head. Given that they were performing Pictures at an Exhibition that’s a good thing I guess. Why James Bond sprang to mind I do not know but perhaps it was something to do with our usual diet of classical martinis being served differently. Also 007 and Russian villains seem to go together like olives and vodka. And is Maestro Simonov a twinkly eyed villain sent to affront more conservative taste buds?
The concert has produced quite a lot of back-chat from various quarters. I gain a lot from listening to feedback and taking a temperature check on the mood of audience reactions and the overall feeling on this night was one of unrestrained joy. Standing ovations, three encores, and a spontaneous breaking of the No Applause Rule (see earlier post, Concert Manners) after the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The relaxed atmosphere continued into the second half when Nikita Boriso-Glebksy came and sat on the Grand Circle stairs (no seats left!) to see the Mussorgsky, and to the delight of many signed some programmes. And The Gates of Kiev was the first time I have been physically pinned to my seat as the Orchestra ignored 10 on the dial and reach the proverbial 11 on the amplifier.
But there were some dissenting views, largely surrounding Maestro Simonov. His flamboymant showmanship at the rostrum was not everyone’s cup of earl grey. And neither was the sound – too harsh for some, too, well, Russian.
Which was why I booked them! An online review through MusicWeb articulates it perfectly:
whereas not all the reviewers agreed. 4 stars from The Scotsman but with some thinly veiled rancour. It is a funny thing when a concert generates rapture among the audience and not among critics. It happened in spectacular fashion when Gustavo Dudamel came here in the festival a few years ago conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. The audience loved it. Our staff loved it. There was such a buzz around the place. Critics, however, panned it and I don’t think I saw more than 1 star given in a review.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. I was in the ‘loved it’ camp. There is more great Russian music on the way next year with the St Petersburg Philharmonic, conducted by the wonderful Yuri Termakanov, on 29th March. We are doing a bit of a bonfire special… get £10 off the top two ticket prices but remember, remember and buy BEFORE 5th of November.