The Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
of Moscow Radio on tour,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
A touring Russian orchestra playing Russian music usually attracts a good crowd, and so it was on this occasion (Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio conducted by Denis Lotoev, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 10 October 2007). I wish I could say that it lived up to my expectations of a thrilling evening but, sadly, this wasn't the case.
The first sign that all was not well came with an oddly lack-lustre account of the overture to Borodin's Prince Igor. There was nothing wrong with the playing; indeed, technically this is a superb orchestra, rhythmically incisive and producing a rich though sometimes bass-heavy sound. But this wasn't enough, and as we moved on to Stravinsky's Petrushka it became clear what was missing. The performance told us in no uncertain terms what a slick, super-efficient orchestra this is, but it simply failed to convey any sense of the work's humanity. They also short-changed us by using the so-called concert ending, which lops off the final scene of Petrushka's ghost -- I didn't think anyone still did that.
For a time it looked as though Rimsky-Korsakov's Schéhérazade would respond better to such treatment, as its purely decorative manner involves no human emotions to speak of. Sure enough, all the brilliant effects were securely in place. But even the growing excitement of the final movement remained on a superficial level.
A dispiritingly unmusical evening, but at least we were spared the interminable encore-fest we often get with touring orchestras.
Copyright © 15 October 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
TCHAIKOVSKY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF MOSCOW