<< -- 4 -- Howard Smith TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE
On one occasion Lygia tried to get back through Gosconcert (the old,
monolithic, Soviet concert organisation) and the Director of the hall agreed;
but as it turned out his consent was a shabby trick.
The concert was planned to honour Sir Malcolm Arnold's 75th birthday.
Arnold had heard Ensemble XXI Moscow in London and he accepted Lygia's invitation
to visit Moscow for the commemorative tribute. Sadly, in an outrageous display
of spite at the eleventh hour, the Director of the hall cancelled the concert.
This was a tawdry, provocative gesture and a calculated insult toward so
distinguished a musician as Arnold; a composer who visited the Soviet Union
forty years earlier and became a friend of Prokofiev.
Lygia tried to protest to the Ministry of Culture, but its Deputy Minister
was a friend of the Conservatory. He looked at the conductor and said 'perhaps
you are just not good enough for the Bolshoi Hall.' It was a calculated,
'I understood in some small way what it must have been like for Soviet
artists to be summoned to the Ministry and told such things', says Lygia.
'When Rostropovitch fell out of favour with the authorities and when his
concerts were reviewed there was no reference to the great soloist; only
the accompanist was mentioned. As my first cellist said: "this story
is no different than what happened to artists in the Soviet period, only
now it is without the ideology".'
Over the years the schedules of Lygia and her teacher, Rozhdestvensky
did not coincide and it wasn't till late in 2001 that the legendary conductor
heard Ensemble XXI Moscow in a performance of Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony.
Without hesitation Rhozsdestvensky agreed to conduct the orchestra. But
when informed of the Conservatory ban he expressed both horror and incredulity.
However, by this time, Lygia's hour had come ... through what seemed
like a fortuitous coincidence the Minister of Culture fired the Conservatory
rector and appointed a successor; a former Rozhdestvensky pupil. The new
rector straightway agreed to a mini Festival bringing Ensemble XXI Moscow
back to the Bolshoi Hall.
It was a triumph for the orchestra, a victory for Lygia O'Riordan, and
an occasion for rejoicing by delighted Muscovite concertgoers.
Copyright © 1 November 2002
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand
HOWARD SMITH'S WEBSITE