Russian State Symphony Orchestra

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

The old hall coped well, but if ever a Norwich performance (and packed audience) deserved modern facilities, this was the time.

The programme consisted of two works. The first was Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini in which the pianist was Nikolai Demidenko. A 100 musicians crowded the platform but, conducted by Mark Gorenstein, never did they overpower the soloist, with their own solo interjections being particularly subtle and Demidenko becoming passionately outgoing as the work progressed, bringing a rich variety to the whole. And an extra example of his technique came in a short and dashing Scarlatti encore.

Then to Mahler's 5th Symphony and a stirring trumpet opening - its marshall interjection dominating the movement as in-depth strings took up the thematic material.

Intense and percussive as was the beginning of the following movement, it moved to a heavenly cello melody and the RSSO continued to create a unique and sumptuous symphonic sound. A delightful section in waltz time with horn and trumpet prominent led to a Scherzo of some serenity. There was romance in the gently “sung” Adagietto lovesong by strings before a finale emitting both joy and optimism.

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This symphonic colossus in a champagne evening, complimentary and otherwise, was acclaimed enthusiastically. But why the quite superfluous encore - it was enough.

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