Bychkov and Gerstein in Russian Music

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Pianist Kirill Gerstein in the WQXR Studio. Pianist Kirill Gerstein in the WQXR Studio. (Kim Nowacki/WQXR)

Tune in Thursday night at 9 pm as pianist Kirill Gerstein joins the New York Philharmonic to perform Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini under the direction of Semyon Bychkov. Included in the program is Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Shostakovich's Symphony No 11 (The Year 1905)

Program Details:

Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
Soloist: Kirill Gerstein, piano

Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Shostakovich: Symphony No 11 (The Year 1905)


Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

The "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" seemed perfunctory on the whole and lacking in some orchestral details that would have drawn this listener into the performance much more, reference the clarinets and bassoons articulating more of a quick crescendo-diminuendo three bars before Number 2 in Variation I, and again seven and eight bars after Number 2. Likewise, in Variation XVI the first and second violins playing muted pianissimo 32nd-note thirds didn't have the accent on the first notes as written in bars 9 and 10, and similarly at Number 44 and the following bar, and finally the same in the last three bars of Variation XVI. Variation XVIII, its inherent beauty notwithstanding, left me wanting insofar as the rubato called for was non-existent and the crescendos to the great melody in the strings to the high B flat lacked vehemence and a more intense vibrato. The accomplished soloist found no difficulties at all in the many technical challenges of the work, but I feel the slower and softer motives could have been played with more "romantically" and with more damper pedal. The brass shone in the "Dies Irae" passages throughout. I have nothing but praise for the performance of the Shostakovich Eleventh Symphony, that, in contadistinction to the Rachmaninoff, adhered to every dynamic tempo indication. The "frozen" quality of the divided strings playing fifths in the First Movement, the savage ff...fortissimo... triplets in the Second Movement, to the well-thought out rallantando pizzicati of the 'cellos and contrabasses five bars before Number 118 in the third movement (at which Tempo I is called for ("Adagio"); and the culmination of the work (beginning with the tell-tale bell) in the last movement, made this a performance of searing intensity and import that I'll always remember. To this listner, this performance was a fierce revelation of Shostakovich's deepest feelings that prompted him to compose the work, about which I can only humbly say bravissimo to one and all.

Jan. 10 2016 08:10 PM

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