Call me Russ L

Anglo – Trad – Scottish – Russian combinations

Posted in Music by Russ L on 3 June, 2006

My original plan for Tuesday the 23rd of May was to go and see Extreme Noise Terror at the Medicine Bar, but that gig was cancelled. Instead I went to Symphony Hall to hear a bit of Shostakovich. Not a bad difference, eh?

The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus (better known to most of us as The Kirov Opera) were in town for the week, conducted by their artistic director Valery Gergiev, and this (the first concert in their run here. Shame I didn’t make it to any of the others, really) was part of the Shostakovich centenary.

We had two of Dmitri-boy’s symphonies that I vaguely knew sandwiching something entirely new to me. His third symphony (which I like – a jolly one-long-movement [not especially symphonic] affair) opened and his tenth symphony (which I love – another one of his amazing post-denunciation efforts, varying between some quite down ‘n’ depressing sounds and some absolutely wild ‘n’ ferocious ones) closed, but even more enjoyable than both very enjoyable pieces was the new-to-me “Six Songs To Lyrics By English Poets” between them. Half the orchestra left leaving us with a more chamber-style ensemble, and bass singer Eduard Tsanga joined them. The terms ‘English’ and ‘Poets’ were both stretched (of the six, three were by Robert Burns and one was traditional), but the thing as a whole was great. Burns’ “In the Fields” (Which I think is absolutely lovely to begin with) was heartbreakingly beautiful; Shakespeare’s Sonnet no. 66 (which I hadn’t ever actually read until looking at the programme) was stirring; and the comical air of the version of “King’s Procession” (”Up the hill, the king he led/His regiment of musketeers/But down the hill, the king he came/Without his Regiment.”) was capped off wonderfully by Tsanga’s cheeky little shrug after he stopped singing.

Sometimes I wish I had the technical knowledge and/or frame of reference to write about this sort of thing more usefully.

~ Russ L



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