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Russian National Orchestra Plays Ballet Music

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The Russian National Orchestra, conducted by Mikhail Pletnev, is in Seattle as part of the Visiting Orchestra series. Last night they played a concert of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

Most interpretations of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise are "Bolero"-like: a slow build towards a climax. The Russian National Orchestra's rendition of Vocalise was shaped like a tone poem, with clouds gathering, brooding, and then rushing by, leaving behind an ominous stillness. The young (late 20's) pianist Alexander Mogilevsky was the soloist in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3. Not that there was anything wrong with the faster and more bombastic sections of the work, but he owned the soft cadenza in the first movement, and played the entire slow movement like a dream, literally and figuratively.

The last work in the printed program was Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 3. It was great to sit in a concert hall and focus on the orchestra playing this piece, with its full brass and percussion sections at full tilt in a hall with great acoustics. While some of the tempi in the "Theme and Variations" movement would have made even Merrill Ashley sweat bullets, it was beautifully shaped. The Concertmaster played the violin solos with sensitivity and passion, and I am officially in Audience-Love with the oboist, who played his solo meltingly.

The generous encore was the "Garland Dance" from Sleeping Beauty, and I had children through adult ballet dancers swarming in my head in the spring greens and pinks costumes in what I remembered of Balanchine's choreography.

Although I've often seen orchestra's applaud their own after the concert, there were so many congratulatory looks and handshakes among players during the concert, that I wasn't sure if I had transported suddenly to a jazz concert or to a Sephardic bar mitzvah!

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I attended a RNO concert in NY earlier this month.....the program was Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. Stravinsky's arrangement of selections from Sleeping Beauty, Baiser de la Fee, and Suite # 3. The encores were Garland Waltz and Rose Adagio.

It was an absolutely splendid concert. The orchestra has a recording of Suite #3 which is not quite as invigorating as a live performance, but pretty close!

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They sure travel a lot -- with quite a selection of works and different soloists too. Earlier this month it was West Palm Beach. The program was Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 (Yefim Bronfman) and Manfred Symphony. Encores at West Palm at least were ballet: Waltz of the Flowers and part of Swan Lake Act II, both played richly and beautifully. Like you, helene, I did some choreographing as I listened.

We had a different conductor from Seattle: Vladimir Jurowski, who takes over as Director in the falli.

A few days later they repeated this program in Miami.

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