Culture Magazine

Concert Review: Visions of the Amber Room

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

Concert Review: Visions of the Amber Room

Detail from a modern replica of the Amber Room,
located in the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, Russia.

In the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, Russia, there was a fabulous chamber called the Amber Room, a gift to Peter the Great from Frederick I of Prussia. The walls of this room were hand-crafted of polished amber, creating a unique, burnished ambiance that was called the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Amber Room is lost to history, but its qualities of richness and warmth could be heard Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, when the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra played the first of two dates at Carnegie Hall under the sure baton of Yuri Temirkanov. The SPSO is Russia's oldest orchestra, founded in 1882 at the order of Tsar Alexander III. They are imbued with dark, rich orchestral tone, featuring throaty brass, warm strings and woodwinds that bring a personal, questioning voice to the most challenging solo parts.

Concert Review: Visions of the Amber Room

Yuri Temirkanov. Photo © 2009 Medici TV.

The concert opened with Kikimora, a tone poem by Antonin Liadov. Liadov was a Rimsky pupil, whose sparse output has consigned him to minor status. Kikimora is based on an equally obscure fairy tale. But the story inspired Liadov to write innovative orchestration with rich rhythms and an imaginative solo part for the English horn.
The orchestra was then joined by pianist Nicholas Lugansky for Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. Though it does not share the Everest status of the Third, this is still a fiendishly difficult work that is challenging to bring off. Rachmaninoff possessed a formidable hand-stretch which presents difficulty for soloists playing his music.
Mr. Lugansky brought impressive physical tools and technique to the keyboard, a wide finger-stretch and a command over the pedal and liquid runs required in the first and third movements. The second movement was the highlight, a slow meditative wander through the subconscious, shot through with the melancholy melodies that are a calling card of this composer.
The second half of the evening was dominated by Scheherezade, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's retelling of the Arabian Nights. This is really an extended four-movement concerto for orchestra, with different soloists and groups of instruments taking the part of characters in these famous stories. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship featured eloquent violin soliloquys from concertmaster Lev Klychkov, in an engrossing call-and-response with his orchestra and Mr. Temirkanov.
Other instruments stepped to the fore as the tales spun on. The Kalandar Prince featured powerful brass playing in perfect balance with the rest of the orchestra. The Young Prince and the Princess highlighted the woodwinds. And finally the whole orchestra roared forth in a mighty voice for The Ship Breaks Against the Cliff, before coming to a transcendent, almost Wagnerian conclusion in the final bars. This spectacular performance was met with an enthusiastic reception, and the appreciative audience earned a brief, scintillating encore.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

    White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

    Hooray for British Strawberry Season which is just beginning! I try hard not to eat strawberries at any other time of the year. They are always hugely... Read more

    13 hours, 38 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
  • How Far Can Too Fargo?


    For such a tiny place, a lot of big things seem to happen in the town of Fargo.After the successful Cohen Brothers movie, audiences could be forgiven for... Read more

    14 hours, 51 minutes ago by   Thedook71
  • In The Bag?


    Manchester Monday night - what a frightful blight on young lives; a city rocked in the wrong way. The response has been resilience, a positive bonding of many... Read more

    16 hours, 32 minutes ago by   Ashleylister
  • All I Have To Do Is Stay Black And Die (or…The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good...

    Have Stay Black (or…The Road Hell Paved With Good Intent)

    So...over the Facebook wires yesterday came this..... The UU Congregation of Atlanta is moving. And in their information gathering, a survey was created. This... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Eastofmidnight
  • Grand Union Canal Race 2017 – Updates

    Grand Union Canal Race 2017 Updates

    The 25th edition of the revered Grand Union Canal Race 2017 kicked off this morning at 6:00 am with a 107 starters.This 145 mile non-stop race from Gas Street... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Abichal
  • On Monasteries, Children, and Loving Our Enemies

    Monasteries, Children, Loving Enemies

    Gunmen Kill at Least 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt The headline spares nothing, except that there were children. I numbly read the article describing the... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Marilyngardner5
  • Pouzza Fest 7 Brings Punk Rockers Together in Montreal

    Pouzza Fest Brings Punk Rockers Together Montreal

    Montreal’s 7th annual city punk festival Pouzza Fest took place last weekend in downtown Montreal including five indoor venues and  an outdoor The post Pouzza... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Hendrik Pape