Prokofiev, Violin Concertos 1/2, S. Shoji, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Y. Temirkanov
Hearing these musicians in Russian music, their specialty, was certainly worth the risks of winter travel. The orchestra's sound in the lush parts of Prokofiev's second violin concerto -- and they are many -- was the high point of the first half, overshadowing the clean, impeccably tuned, but somewhat unpredictable solo playing of soloist Sayaka Shoji. I last heard her back in 2007, and much about this performance was as I remembered her playing then: often immaculate, a generally beautiful tone, but with a slightly frantic edge especially in her rhythmic sense, which kept Temirkanov and the orchestra always guessing. In the second movement, where the orchestra gave her an exquisite music box-like introduction of pizzicato strings and staccato winds, the nervous quality of her vibrato hand set the intonation on edge from time to time, a concern that the demanding multiple-stops of the third movement made even more evident. The rhythmic challenges of the finale, with all those metrical shifts, never quite aligned either.
Anne Midgette, Temirkanov, St. Petersburg Philharmonic show sonic opulence at Strathmore
Tim Smith, Yuri Temirkanov and St. Petersburg Philharmonic in soaring concert at Strathmore (Baltimore Sun, February 14)
Two more visiting orchestras are on the WPAS schedule next month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (March 18) and the Israel Philharmonic (March 30), both in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.