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Gala from St Petersburg
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)

Festive Overture, Op. 96f (1954) [6’07].
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op. 28cg (1863) [11’03].
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Concerto for Piano Left-Hand and Orchestradg (1930) [21’07].
Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Eugene Onegin (1879) – Polonaiseg [5’05]; Pique Dame (1890) – Vy tak pechalny … Ya vas lyublyubf [7’02].
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) – Regnava del silenzioaf [9’15].
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

La Bohème (1896) – Quando men voaf [4’25].
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Don Carlo (1867) – O Carlo, ascoltabf [5’08].
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)

Adagio con variazioni, Op. 133ef (1903-10. orch 1921) [12’45].
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)

Kol Nidrei, Op. 47ef (1881) [12’11].
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)

Pagliacci (1892) – Nedda! … Silvio! A quest’oraabf [12’44].
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Fanfaref [1’13].
aAnna Netrebko (soprano); bDmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone); cViktor Tretyakov (violin); dElisso Virsaladze (piano); eMischa Maisky (cello); St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra/fYuri Temirkanov, gNikolai Alekseev.
Rec. live at St Petersburg Grand Hall on June 1st, 2003.


This well-balanced, often adventurous, yet appealing programme is quite simply one of the best DVD concerts to come my way. Every item is a delight – every item is splendidly performed, from the opening sparkling Shostakovich Festive Overture to the galvanising excitement of the closing Rachmaninov Fanfare taken from the composer’s First Symphony Older listeners in the UK may remember this same theme was used to introduce BBC TV’s Panorama many, many years ago. The often seemingly eccentric batonless conducting of Temirkanov is a sight to behold, but he gets results.

Probably the most adventurous item on the programme is Ottorino Respighi’s rarely performed, and rarely recorded Adagio con variazioni imaginatively and intelligently coupled in this programme with the related Kol Nidrei of Max Bruch. It will be remembered that Respighi studied briefly with Bruch in Berlin in 1902. Respighi first composed his Adagio con variazioni in B major for cello and piano (1903 -1910). There is a deeply committed recording of this version, by Luca Simoncini (cello) and Marco Vincenza (piano), in a collection of Respighi’s chamber works on Dynamic CDS 404. The imposing and florid piano writing of this early version clearly anticipates the setting for cello and orchestra (1921). The theme of the Adagio is by the dedicatee, Antonio Certani, a cellist from Bologna and a friend of the composer. The structure of the work, and the cello writing is reminiscent of that of Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei (1881) and it very much anticipates Bloch’s Schelomo. All three works are based on Jewish melodies of archaic lyricism. Mischa Maisky, as one might imagine, empathises strongly with such material and delivers a heart-felt reading. He is supported by a most sympathetic accompaniment with a beautifully phrased cor anglais solo in an impressionistic-like variation with iridescent harp arpeggios. The reading of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei that follows on immediately in the programme is no less committed and deeply felt.

I shall briefly touch on the remaining items in the programme. Readers might like to read Colin Clarke’s equally complimentary review of this DVD for further detail.

Promoted above all her fellow artists, on the front cover of this DVD, the strikingly beautiful Anna Netrebko is equally ravishing of voice. With a keen sense of drama, beautiful tone and phrasing, nice control, strong and sure projection of the highest notes, she impresses strongly in both the Donizetti and Puccini arias. Her partner, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, in the Leoncavallo duet, is big-voiced, virile and oaken-toned in the Tchaikovsky. His Don Carlo aria. beguiles, his lovely legato line just floating effortlessly.

Viktor Tretyakov’s and Elisso Virsaladze’s readings of the Saint-Saëns showpiece and the Ravel Concerto have plenty of verve and attack, articulating and driving forward the pronounced Spanish/Gypsy rhythms common to these works. Both compositions are conducted by the younger Nikolai Alekseev who draws a very proud and majestically dark introduction to the Ravel Concerto. I shall make a mental note of the name of soloist Elisso Virsaladze who delivers a most convincing and powerful reading of this magnificent concerto.

A most impressive Gala concert, an adventurous programme - especially the little known Respighi work - delivered in quality performances. Highly recommended.

Ian Lace

see also review by Colin Clarke

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