Monday, March 14, 2016

Milton Keynes Sinfonia concert

14 March 2016

Another week, another stunning young Russian pianist: on Saturday I played in a Milton Keynes Sinfonia concert where the undoubted star of the show was Ilya Kondratiev who gave a thrilling performance of the spectacular 'Piano Concerto No 1' by Prokofiev. Ilya is an amazing pianist and was clearly having a great time, beaming from the moment he walked in, finishing the concerto with an exaggerated flourish and beguiling both audience and orchestra with two brilliant encores. Conductor David Knight and the Milton Keynes Sinfonia then faced the daunting challenge of following this bravura performance but, fortunately, we were armed with the substantial might of Shostakovich's 'Symphony No 10'. I played this symphony with the Northampton Symphony Orchestra nearly ten years ago (reviewed here in March 2006) and I was surprised how well I remembered it. It's a long, complex work that manages to be bleak, angry, powerful and beautifully delicate. Our performance on Saturday went really well and featured many excellent solos but I will particularly remember the piccolo solo by Andrea Patis at the end of the first movement and Kate Knight's horn solo in the slow movement which were both wonderful. We opened the concert with the ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia’ from ‘Spartacus’ by Khachaturian – still better known as the theme from 'The Onedin Line'. Having recently read Julian Barnes' novel about Shostakovich, 'The Noise of Time' (reviewed here in February 2016), it was interesting to see, in the concert programme, a rare photograph of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian together. Their stories are intertwined with each other, and with the story of 20th century Russia. It was fascinating to play music by all three on Saturday, in what was a great concert.

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