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S & H Concert Review

Dvorak, Tchaikovsky: Vadim Repin (vln), Philharmonia Orchestra, Yakov Kreizberg, RFH, 30th June, 2002 (AR)

The Philharmonia's conservative
programming of popular works by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky took on radical readings under the baton of Russian born Yakov Kreizberg. The concert opened with a delicate, crisp and exuberant account of Dvorak's Carnival Overture with particularly fine attention to orchestral detail, often blurred under lesser batons. With his elegant gesture, suave appearance and charismatic intensity, Kreizberg was uncannily reminiscent of the late Guido Cantelli. Kreizberg's beat is crystal clear and he conducts with ego-free economy.

Siberian Vadim Repin was the soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.  Repin attacked the work with athletic gusto and in some of the more showy passages he appeared to be in imminent danger of sawing his 'Ruby' 1708 Stradivarius in half, so violent was his bowing. Repin's aggressive attack did not produce a very memorable tone merely an impassioned fiddle. He just scraped through it.
The Andante produced very refined woodwind playing from the Philharmonia which merely served to emphasise the crudity of Repin's sawing. Repin played Tchaikovsky  -  Tchaikovsky lost.

The final work was Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony - the highlight of the evening. Kreizberg's subtle, intense and refreshing reading made it sound as if we were listening to the work for the first time. Kreizberg maintained a steady tempi throughout the work blending the four movements into a seamless whole. In the Finale Kreizberg eschewed the customary brutal bombast that bedevils this banal movement. Here Kreizberg reminded one of Klemperer, stressing structure over sensational vulgarity. (Or 1812 without cannon).

It was only the usual chorus of concert-going bronchitics that spoilt the quieter passages during the evening. Over all it was an exhilarating evening with the Philharmonia on top form. Maybe the Philharmonia should make Kreizberg their Principal Conductor?

Alex Russell

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