Thursday, June 14, 2012

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!
THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

Tonight Marti and I went to hear an all-Russian program of music at Salle Pleyel. We sat in what are becoming our favorite seats in this prestigious hall – the places behind and surrounding the stage. It’s fun to watch the conductor and the players from this vantage point.

En route to the concert hall.

We picked up our tickets from Will Call, then went across the street to the Cafe Do Re Mi (who knew there was a Parisian joint named after a Woody Guthrie song?) for a pre-performance libation and snack.

Because we’d be listening to a Russian conductor and piano soloist playing Prokofiev and Scriabin, Marti wore USSR pins that her parents brought back for her from a trip to the Evil Empire in the mid-1980s.

The view from our first row stage right seats.

First up: Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16 from 1913. He dedicated the piece to the memory of Maximilian Schmidthof, a friend of Prokofiev's at the St. Petersburg Conservatory who had committed suicide. At its premier performance Prokofiev performed it as a solo piano work. The original orchestral score was destroyed in a fire following the Russian Revolution. In 1923 Prokofiev reconstructed and considerably revised the concerto.

This evening Moscow-born pianist Boris Berezovsky provided a tour de force rendition of the gorgeous concerto. Shown here afterward with guest musical director Alexander Vedernikov, Berezovsky was called back twice for encores. Here’s a clip of the pianist playing the second part of the Fourth Movement (from an earlier performance with the Orchestre de Paris).




It doesn’t get much more up close and personal than this.

After Intermission we heard Alexander Scriabin's Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 43, entitled Le Divin Po√®me (The Divine Poem), written between 1902 and 1904. It’s another lush, colossal Russian masterpiece. The highly expressive conductor Vedernikov was a joy to watch during this one. And it was great to be in a position where we were seeing him from the front! Here he is in action several years ago with the Lugano-based Orchestra of Italian Switzerland, performing a bit of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony in C.




End of a beautiful musical evening. Now all I needed was a good bus route home. Cake. The #43 took us from Salle Pleyel to the Gare Saint Lazare, where we changed to our favorite, the #80.

Looking out the window of the #80. Not too shabby for a bus ride.

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