An exciting new star is born

By Rene Mairis

Friday, February 1, 2013

 

An exciting new star is born

The IW Symphony Orchestra in concert at Medina Theatre. Picture by Robin Crossley.

MUSIC GLINKA’S overture Russlan and Ludmilla made a very exciting opening for the IW Symphony Orchestra’s (IWSO) concert on Saturday, confidently played at a suitably quick tempo.

It was over all too soon and left me wanting more.

Faure’s Pavane (1887) was very well played. The beautiful flute solo accompanied by perfectly judged dynamics in the pizzicato strings felt deliciously indulgent.

Alexander Sitkovetsky, the soloist in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 (1948, revised 1955), is an amazing young man, who is undoubtedly destined for stardom. His range of tone and expression plus his remarkable technique combined to make a memorable performance that left the audience enthralled.

We were held spellbound from the sombre, almost despairing, opening movement (written at a time when the composer had just been denounced by Stalin for a second time) through a rhythmically exciting scherzo, a lyrical passacaglia, an incredibly long and complex cadenza to a frenzied finale.

With technical fireworks, tantalising motifs (Beethoven), the composer’s monogram, this work has it all and is both virtuosic and emotionally demanding. Soloist and orchestra explored its highlights with gusto.

One comment was: "You don’t have to be musical to know that was brilliant." Hear, hear, it was terrific stuff.

Alexander will be performing with his trio on April 6 for the West Wight Arts Association at Medina Theatre so do go and hear him.

IWSO programmes offer a variety of oeuvre showing their ability and versatility.

A tight, disciplined ensemble was required for the final piece, Symphony No.5 (1915) by Sibelius, and the orchestra did not disappoint. The difficult transition to the scherzo section during the first movement was achieved effortlessly and the end of this movement was dramatic and exciting, underpinned by controlled timpani playing. Contrasting textures and timbres stood out in the second movement with varying combinations of well-balanced pizzicato and arco in the strings. In the last movement, the winds (particularly horns) excelled in the atmospheric build up and the abrupt final chords were spectacular.

Once again, the IWSO provided thrilling performances with amazing performers and showed they enjoy a challenge.

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