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Captivating Delicacy

Igor Tchetuev plays Tchaikovsky,
enjoyed by MIKE WHEELER


Isn't it refreshing to hear Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto treated as a serious piece of music and not as a mere excuse for flashy virtuosity? If I had any preliminary feelings of 'not this old thing again' they were blown away within the first few moments of this performance by Igor Tchetuev and the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 5 October 2006). Tchetuev brought a winning combination of power and sparkle to the solo part, and together with conductor Alexander Dmitriev showed an ability to make this very familiar work seem fresh without resorting to the wilful or eccentric. The transition to the second movement's central scherzo section sounded natural, and the scherzo itself skipped along very agreeably, while at the climax of the finale the big tune was given its head without expressively overbalancing the rest of the movement. Tchetuev can thunder out double octaves with the best, but is also capable of the most captivating delicacy, not least in his encore (unannounced, but I guess more Tchaikovsky).

The darker facets of Shostakovich's Symphony No 10 were very much to the fore after the interval. The solo flute theme a little way into the first movement was rather quicker than I have heard it, bringing out its nervy, edgy quality. After a reading of the short, punchy scherzo full of pounding energy, Dmitriev sought out the drama of the third movement rather than its more enigmatic qualities, creating a seething emotional storm at the climax. The account of the finale was no facile 'springtime after the Stalinist winter', but kept the music's dark edge in view to the end.

The orchestra played superbly throughout, and in fact hit the ground running in the opening item, Dance of the Buffoons, from Tchaikovsky's The Snow Maiden.

Copyright © 16 October 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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