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Julia Fischer and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic

Julia Fischer, violinistWashington Performing Arts Society’s presentation of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Julia Fischer, Gramophone’s new Artist of the Year, was indeed memorable. At the Kennedy Center on Tuesday night, Yuri Temirkanov provided Fischer support in the Beethoven Violin Concerto by neither allowing textures to become overly heavy nor fast. With sparklingly clear tone and a fast, narrow vibrato, Fischer acted as an extension of the exceptionally earthy string sound supplied by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. However, in the first movement (Allegro non troppo), Fischer’s intonation was near the limit of being too high. Each of the concerto’s three movements contained satisfying motifs that were repeated three times, either expanding upward or, in the case of the third movement, containing two repetitions with a tail. Fischer’s phrasing possessed lots of fantasy by using both dynamics and time to exploit this material – the orchestra followed her every step of the way. Indeed, the orchestra and conductor appeared to be listening equally as much as playing. Fischer’s chords in the final cadenza locked remarkably well.

Other Reviews:

Tim Smith, The Temirkanov Touch (Baltimore Sun, October 25)

Robert Battey, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, A Program of High Notes (Washington Post, October 25)

Jens F. Laurson, Setting the Perfect Tone: Julia Fischer with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Ionarts, May 26, 2006)
Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 (1945) provided Temirkanov a platform for more creative conducting, as what had been observed prior to it were mainly large horizontal gestures. Thus, the wry Russian humor and pointed clarinet solos of the second movement (Allegro marcato) stood out, while the third movement’s stern, cold Adagio character warmed up – perhaps by passing around a bottle of vodka – near the end of the movement and became sentimental. The final movement’s positive theme (Allegro giacoso) flipped around in an amusing way while the entire symphony ended with the entire ensemble in a bright, upward run. The ensemble virtuously never sounded loud, just powerfully full and wide.

The audience was treated to a well-orchestrated encore by Elgar. One wishes success to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, especially since, according to a Russian friend, not so long ago its musicians were rarely paid.

The next concert sponsored by WPAS is a recital by Murray Perahia (October 28, at Strathmore), which inaugurates the new Piano Masters series.

Julia Fischer on Disc:
available at Amazon
Bach, Sonatas / Partitas
available at Amazon
Glazunov, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Violin Concertos
available at Amazon
Mozart, Violin Concertos 1,2&5
available at Amazon
Mozart, Violin Concertos 3&4
available at Amazon
Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto

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