Moscow State Radio Symphony delivers at BU

Reviewed by Tony Villecco

Binghamton University’s Anderson Center in its limited but varied season presented the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra Feb. 16 to an almost sold-out audience. Founded in 1978, the orchestra concentrates on symphonic repertoire of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, primarily in Russia, although it has traveled extensively, including the United States, Italy and Korea.

Appropriately performing all Russian works, Maestro Alexei Kornienko opened with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “May Night Overture.” While perhaps not the most exciting piece with which to begin a program, considering the huge repertoire of the Russian composers, it was a lyrical and evocative work that showcased the commitment of the string players. In turn, the strings were answered by some haunting trombone playing.

As the oboes and strings came back in, the musical arch went from a frenzied to melodious section. Eliciting a huge, lush bit of playing, the orchestra was then highlighted by the pizzicato of the bass and cello sections. Perhaps, however, future programs from this excellent orchestra would be better served by showcasing a more well-known Rimsky-Korsakov piece such as the “Sheherazade” suite.

That said, the next selection, Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35,” had audience members on their feet at its conclusion. Violinist Nadezda Tokareva was a force to be reckoned with, using her whole body like a ballerina. It was as if the orchestra and she were in sync to the point of meshing into one player. Mastering all the very difficult passages with a virtuosic ability, she presented exquisite and flawless solo work.

Moreover, the orchestral passages were passionate and colorful, creating an almost violent cascade of sound. The concerto’s second movement had some wonderful flute playing which in turn, was echoed by the violins. One could hear and feel the screaming inner sadness of Tchaikovsky, especially with the anger in the string work. As the haunting bassoon entered, it only served to underscore the intense passion of this work with a daunting and breathtaking conclusion by both soloist and orchestra.

The next Anderson Center mainstage performance is the Moscow Festival Ballet on March 24. Ticket information may be obtained by calling 777-ARTS.

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