Schubert, String Quartet ("Death and the Maiden," arr. G. Mahler), Moscow Soloists, Y. Bashmet
Haydn, Cello Concertos, A. Gastinel, Moscow Soloists, Y. Bashmet
Brahms, Quintet in B Minor (op. 115, arr. Y. Bashmet), Moscow Soloists, Y. Bashmet
The best reason to hear this concert, by far, was the guest solo appearance of inimitable cellist Mischa Maisky. My aversion to Tchaikovsky's syrupy music is probably too well known, but there is no one I would rather hear in a piece like that composer's D minor nocturne, arranged for cello and chamber orchestra from the piano original (Six morceaux, op. 19/4). Maisky played this little bonbon as an encore during a 2010 performance with the National Symphony Orchestra, and once again he played it with a fluid, striking sense of rubato, spontaneous in its shifts, mingling effortlessly with the solo violin descanting above him.
While Maisky is generally not my first choice for music before about 1840 (as in his rendition of the Bach cello suites at the National Gallery of Art in 2004), he brought a sense of verve and lyricism to Haydn's C major cello concerto (H. 7b/1). It was perhaps not as stylistically fluent as the performance of Anne Gastinel, who recorded the Haydn concertos with the Moscow Soloists (and had the added benefit of the oboes and horns called for in the score but omitted here), but it was distinctive, especially the warm interior reflection of the slow movement. To mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Mstislav Rostropovich (April 27, 2007), one of Maisky's former mentors and a local hero because of his leadership of the National Symphony Orchestra, Maisky and the ensemble offered the Pablo Casals arrangement of the Catalan folk song El Cant dels Ocells, a meditative end to the first half.
Robert Battey, Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore (Washington Post, April 30)