Top Five Russian-Themed Concerts

From Russia With Love

Thursday, October 07, 2010

For whatever fluke of scheduling, a number of Russian operas, symphonies, chamber works and even theatrical events are simultaneously popping up all over the city this month. Taken together, they could make for a small festival. Independently, the performances stand strongly on their own. Here are the Top 5 Russian-themed concerts.

1. This season the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under new director Jacques Lacombe has been curating a number of themed concerts. On Oct. 28-31, its gaze turns to the steppes with its Russian Tales concert. Dudana Mazmanishvili will play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 followed by Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. The program begins with Roger Sessions’ Black Maskers Suite, which is based on a Russian folk story.

2. Das Rheingold may have attracted the Metropolitan Opera’s season opening attention, but the second new production debut, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov is garnering its share of buzz. And for good reason. The great German bass, Rene Pape brings to stage the tragic tale of the 17th-century tsar along with a mostly Russian cast and a conductor in Valery Gergiev. Gergiev will also bring his Mariinsky Orchestra to Carnegie Hall to present a series of Mahler Symphonies Oct. 17-24.

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s house band, the Pacifica Quartet, has conquered complete cycles of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Carter string quartets. This year they’re tackling all of Shostakovich’s string quartets in order starting Oct. 23. The fifteen works show the arc of Shostakovich’s career from an idealistic student writing revolutionary music, to one struggling with the artistic mandates of the Soviet regime.

4. Bearing the name, and artistic oversight of Mikhail Baryshnikov, it’s no surprise that the Baryshnikov Arts Center presents a number of works hearkening back to its founder’s motherland. On Oct. 25 and 26 it presents the premier of Spectral Scriabin. Lighting guru Jennifer Tipton takes Alexander Scriabin’s theories of color and music a step further with her own light design choreographed to selected piano works performed by Georgian pianist Eteri Andjaparidze.

5. The most famous of Russian composers, Tchaikovsky, gets special treatment at Symphony Space. Pianist Eve Wolf wove into a concert of his works the letters and diary entries illustrating his 14-year relationship with his patron Nadezhda von Meck at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Oct. 13-14. Then, on Halloween, the main stage will show a filmed performance of Tchaikovsky’s opera Queen of Spades from Barcelona’s Liceu opera house.

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Comments [1]

Michael Meltzer

Georgian pianist Eteri Andjaparidze is a brilliant performer and well worth hearing. A few years back, she recorded a knockout CD for Naxos of earlier piano works of Prokofiev ("PROKOFIEV: Piano Music Vol. I") that was nominated in Europe for the Deutsche Schallplaten, equivalent there to our "Grammy."
WQXR would do well to put it into the playlist, Lt. Kije could do with a few weeks' rest.
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Back in the 1980's, an excellent string quartet from Canada did the Shostakovich cycle in a series at Alice Tully Hall. Shostakovich, like Beethoven, lived long enough to have contrasting early, middle and late periods, and the Canadians programmed each evening with 3 quartets, one from each period.
The contrast made for much more interesting evenings than what Pacifica proposes to do, play them "in order," although the latter probably simplifies their preparation of program notes and/or introductory remarks. Pacifica should be induced to reconsider, for a much more audience-oriented agenda.

Oct. 08 2010 01:50 AM

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