wed 13/11/2019

Dariescu, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - Soviet fear and loathing | reviews, news & interviews

Dariescu, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - Soviet fear and loathing

Dariescu, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - Soviet fear and loathing

Brutal yet beautiful performance of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony

Conductor Yuri Simonov

It remains some of the most terrifying music ever written. Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony - the composer’s portrayal of the fear and anxiety felt under Stalin's regime - is a horrifyingly brutal musical portrayal of life lived under a totalitarian reign. The Moscow Philharmonic under the baton of Yuri Simonov gave a phenomenally accurate and moving performance of this work at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on Tuesday night.

The intense claustrophobia of the work was at once expertly captured in the orchestra’s strong yet subdued sound. Simonov slyly upped the ante with a gradual increase in both volume and tempo to bring out almost unbearably garish orchestral tones, with thunderous percussion. The second movement ended with a brash, gaudy splash of carnivalesque colour, while the dark, heavy strings of the third offered the merest chinks of light as tiny glimmers of hope. Simonov’s hands seemed to vibrate with the music as he conducted the final Andante-Allegro movement, sewing the symphony up with a stylish finish. Alexandra DariescuAn easy listen this was not. Which, for music as dark as this, is a good thing. The pain, dirt, grime, slog, unease and uncertainty which the music references was fully explored and exhibited by this marvelous orchestra, and what was most notable was the passion and potency heard in the symphony’s quietest passages.Preceding this was some more Russian Music - Tchaikovsky’s First PIano Concerto, and the UK premiere of Event Horizon, written by the Russian/Hungarian composer Maria Antal. Simonov commissioned Event Horizon when the composer happened to be reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and, as its title suggests, concepts of space and time are very much at the heart of this work’s inspiration. Written in quite a minimalist style, its energetic opening featured scurrying strings peppered with bursts of brass, and celestial influences were heard throughout the work. Its ending was a bit on the polite side though, and could have had a slightly bigger bang.

Romanian born British pianist Alexandra Dariescu (pictured above by Marco Borggreve) was the soloist for the concerto. She gave a wonderfully starry rendition, opening with bold, strident chords. The pizzicato strings at the start of the second movement provided a gentle and tender backdrop to a lyrical flute solo, which Dariescu then echoed with a golden. honeyed timbre. Her playing in the third and final movement was spicy and spirited, with Simonov expertly guiding the orchestra through shifting tempi, before the work erupted in a dazzling finale.

An easy listen this was not. Which, for music as dark as this, is a good thing

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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