I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman

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Russian troika bogged down in the quest for authenticity in Bruges

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36
Sergei Rachmaninov: Vocalise, Op. 34 no. 14
Sergei Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A Minor, Op. 43
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Suite no. 2, Op. 64ter

Anna Vinnitskaya, piano
Jos van Immerseel, Anima Eterna Brugge
Bruges, Concertgebouw, 29 November 2019

In this triptych from Jos van Immerseel and his Anima Eterna Brugge, three Russian composers underwent the authentic instrument treatment for which this Belgian ensemble is famous. Using the instruments and orchestral layout the composers knew may be admirable but has its limitations. Some fifty years were spanned in this concert and yet everything was performed with the same instruments. Are we to assume the Philadelphia Orchestra which premiered Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in 1934 sounded the same as Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestra in 1888, not to mention the Czech or Russian forces playing Prokofiev’s Romeo in the late 1930s? I guess not, but eventually this wasn’t the main concern.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.

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Russian delights with Lugansky and Kochanovsky in Brussels

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol, Op.34
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto no. 2 in G Minor, Op.16
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 5 in E Minor, Op.64

Nikolai Lugansky, piano
Stanislav Kochanovsky, Belgian National Orchestra
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), 27 September 2019

Conductors do make a difference with orchestras. We were reminded of this once again when Stanislav Kochanovsky stood before the Belgian National Orchestra to lead them through an all-Russian triple bill, gathering Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. The Russian maestro has been guesting with the BNO on a handful of occasions and their collaboration hints at real chemistry. With the sort of repertoire that only a few years ago in other hands tended towards loudness contests, BNO audiences are now rewarded with excellent, musical performances.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.

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Devastating and dark Pathétique from Gergiev and the Mariinsky on tour in Brussels

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Suite, Op. 57
Igor Stravinsky: Symphony in C
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 “Pathétique”
Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 18 November 2018

Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky forces have been frequent guests in Brussels over the last 25 years: quite an extraordinary feat in itself, if you think about it. Several visits were memorable events, yet this all-Russian programme ranks as one of the finest I heard them perform in a long time and easily tops my list of favourite concerts this year. An absolutely thrilling journey with privileged guides, encompassing the mysterious fantasy world of Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky’s neoclassical outings as well as Tchaikovsky’s crushing emotional outpourings. Familiar repertoire it may be, but it emerged here with astonishing freshness and impact, reconfirming that old cliché that it takes Russians to play their own music.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.