Do you like Brahms ? And Dvorak ?
From a review of a concert held on 19 November 1998
Written by Maya Mikhailova
Translated and edited by Valour
Unfortunately, adverse circumstances often force us to change our habits, and sometimes even traditions. But fortunately, the run-around of contemporary life has not affected the traditions of our Philarmonic Society: the concert which opened the second subscription Steinway and Symphonic Music was held on November 19. For the first concert of the cycle, two brilliant and, importantly, rather rarely performed works were chosen - the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 of J.Brahms and A.Dvorak's Eighth Symphony.
Musicologist Olga Belova, in an opening address, also a tradition, laconically and brightly spoke of the works and their creators, having precisely designated the basic features for novice listeners to listen for.
The evening opened with the Brahms Concerto, excellently performed by Nikolai Lugansky. Those who were lucky enough to listen to this pianist at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994 will remember how the spectator was imperceptibly drawn into the action and how, once the performer began, it was impossible to be distracted or released, right to the end - the audience was hypnotized. Lugansky has never lost this ability. One did not need to have read the words of Brahms' contemporaries, who called the first part of the Concerto "demonic", - the pianist made us fully aware of this. Lugansky embodied the Brahms-Beethoven "demon" and so magnificent was he that public could not be kept from applauding. (Whoever believes that it is unthinkable to clap between the movements of a work has never heard a good performance.)
In the second movement, the pianist bewitched the hall. Even the most seasoned listeners were struck with the softness of his piano. What was this? A slow-unfolding story? A prayer? It would be possible to describe everything that happened in the hall, in one word :"rest". Then the ending seemed all the more bright and sudden: the pianist "woke" the orchestra, the orchestra "woke" the hall. Like a gushing spring carried away in its own momentum, the last movement of the Concerto was a whirlwind and then ... it was all over. And the only regret, for those of us sitting in the hall, was that we were allowed so little - a couple of words and applause.
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