Vancouver Symphony

Season Opening Concert

Borodin Prince Igor: Overture Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade | Bramwell Tovey - Conductor | Mikhail Rudy - Piano (Cherniavsky Laureate)

Dates 1 and 3 October 2005 at 20.00 Venue Orpheum Theatre Reviewer Kulpreet Sasan

Bramwell Tovey border=
Maestro Bramwell Tovey

The masses gathered on Saturday for the opening concert of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's season could almost feel the buzz of electricity in the air. The choice of opening the season with an all-Russian series reflects the fine line the orchestra is walking between presenting well-known works and introducing the audience to more obscure ones. Over the last few seasons Maestro Tovey has done a fine job of seamlessly blending the familiar with the exotic. Vancouver classical music fans have been much the richer for these adventures in programming.

The opening performance of the night, the overture to Borodin's Prince Igor, was a lighter piece that introduced the audience to the talents of feature soloist Mikhail Rudy. It gave him many an opportunities to display his deft touch and illustrate the possibilities of his approach to the insturment. Playful, fluid and illustrative he worked in a soft pallet and created a joyous and populist experience.

The heights he achieved here were merely the interlude to the potential that would be realized with his performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. It was here that Rudy was in full bloom and communicated the kind of prolific talent capable of communicating the depth of emotion and possibilities of the instrument. He was vivid, emotive, and had the audience completely enthralled with his prodigious approach to the instrument. The audience showed its appreciation by giving the performance a standing ovation and summoning Rudy back for an encore.

The second half of the evening was an exercise in Russian flirtation with exoticism. Based on the stories of the Arabian Nights, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade was an unexpected delight from start to finish. Maestro Tovey presented a very charming introduction to the piece and tapped the audience into some of the themes at play in the performance. This involved a recollection of the basic narrative of A Thousand and One Nights and how Rimsky-Korsakov had chosen to present various emotions and characters in the narrative. This small introduction made an unfamiliar piece quite accessible. There were more than a few members of the audience thankful to the Maestro for the gesture.

The performance itself was a pure delight. The orchestra in fine form flew with the most artful and lucid moments and brought emphasis to some very dramatic moments in the narrative piece. From the representation of the Sultan's rage coming alive to communicating the transformative beauty of Scheherazade's voice, the orchestra was on its mark. It's a credit to the skills of the symphony that they were able to use a very formal composition to express the theme of the Arabian nights: the redemptive power of art and its ability to heal the wounded soul. All in all, this was a great beginning to the season.

© 2005 Kulpreet Sasan