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Vedernikov opened the concert with the ceremonial Festive Overture Opus 96 (composed for the thirty seventh anniversary of the October Revolution) by Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). Like his film scores, this is Shostakovich in a populist vein. Conductor and orchestra summoned up all the brilliance they could command for this lively curtain raiser. The brilliant trumpets and rich string sound gave the music real presence.
Despite recent personnel changes the Russian National Orchestra remains a first class ensemble. Alexander Vedernikov (a member of the orchestra's Conductors Collegium) is a dynamic, brilliantly gifted conductor. What made this concert unique was Hélène Grimaud's magnificent interpretation of an elusive Bartók masterwork. Like recent recitals by Piotr Anderszewski, Denis Burstein, Francesco Libetta and Konstantin Lifschitz, Grimaud's performance was one of the most dazzling pianistic displays in this or any music season!