Saturday, May 12, 2012

REVIEW: Alexander Lazarev and HKPO

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday May 5

I heard a loud thump on the stage and the next thing I know I felt like I forgot my violin! Maestro Alexander Lazarev, with huge movements and enthusiastic waving of the hands, turned to the audience every now and then as if asking us to play along. Given that the first piece was Glazunov’s Raymonda Suite, perhaps he expected us to dance! The last time I saw Lazarev was in June 6 2010 and I don’t remember him being so animated.

Glazunov’ Raymonda is a delightful piece and Lazarev definitely took a lot of delight in shaping each “scene”. Though the piece maybe a bit lightweight, but it is full of melodic charm, such as the Variation’s delectable harp embroidery and the delicious violin solo in Grand Adagio. Overall, the orchestral playing was sometime a bit weighted, but most of the time ravishing.

After the interval came Stravinsky’s Concerto in E flat Dumbarton Oaks (so-called because it was composed there), a enchanting work and truly Stravinsky at his most sophisticated and specific of which the effect was both dynamic and spirited. Lazarev scaled down his gestures but not his command, ensuring that rhythms are befittingly sprung and the edgy textures are delicately balanced.

I am not sure which one is my favorite, the Stravinsky or the Borodin that followed. Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 is an important milestone in Russian symphonic music, not only was its musical construction original and the orchestration was colorful, expressive, dramatic and most importantly nationalistic. In fact, for those who have heard Prince Igor, one would feel like this is the symphonic version of it. Here, Lazarev was at it again and the orchestra responded. The piece opened powerfully; and while the theme was repeated, Lazarev took well-judged changes of rhythm and orchestral color in its development. The Scherzo was played with great virtuosity by HKPO, while the Andante may have been a tad slow. The finale, needless to say was done with great gall and gusto.
Splendour of Russia: 3 Alexanders
Alexander Lazarev in Russian Extravaganza
4&5-5-2012 Fri & Sat 8PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall

GLAZUNOV (arr. Korndorf):  Raymonda Suite
STRAVINSKY: Concerto in E flat Dumbarton Oaks
BORODIN: Symphony No.2

Alexander Lazarev, conductor

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