Monday, April 18, 2005

Phoenix Symphony, 04-14-05

I have plenty to blog about... but I'm going to write about recent shows.

Thursday I saw the Phoenix Symphony. They played Mussorgsky prelude to Khovantchina, Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D (Barnabas Kelemen, violin) and Shostakovich's 5th symphony in d. Kelemen also played an encore, a solo violin piece I didn't recognize. The guest conductor was Stefan Sanderling (OK, I just looked it up, yes, he is the son of Kurt.) Seats were centered and up front this time (I'm usually about halfway back on the side) which makes the orchestral mix sound a little odd but was great positioning to see the soloist.

I like Sibelius' VC but it is quite odd; it doesn't seem to me to sound like Sibelius except in rare orchestra swells. At any rate the violin could've been louder and more aggressive at times but overall it was quite good. I just love the end of the 1st movement and it was a thrill to see it played live.

Their take on Shostakovich's 5th was interesting. The recording I know best is the famous Bernstein/NYPO from 1959. I have come to realize that this version - though justly famous for the intriguing new reading of the piece - isn't very good overall. I liked the performance Thursday night more. They began the finale very quickly - which I didn't expect from the way the Allegretto and Largo were handled - but then slowed to fit the traditional Russian style. Thus they achieved the shock and surprise and emphasis on absurdity but slowing down allowed a more serious, tragic ending.


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