The Russians have come in real style

05.12.10
Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Evening Post (UK)

By Gerry Parker

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra: Colston Hall THERE was a Hollywood comedy film a few years ago entitled The Russians are Coming,The Russians are Coming. That title could well have been used for this evening of Russian music played by a Russian Orchestra, led by a conductor from that country and featuring a piano soloist born in Sebastopol.

The three pieces chosen to make up the programme could not however have varied much more than Borodin's Polovtsian Dances, from Prince Igor, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No2, and Shostakovich's joyous Symphony No10, in E minor, written in celebration of the death of the dictator Joseph Stalin.

Pavel Kogan, who has been at the head of this Orchestra since 1989, lead them through the Polovtsian Dances with the exuberance of a schoolboy let loose in a sweet shop. As he was to display later when accompanying Piano soloist Igor Tchetuev, and in the violent changes of moods to be found in the Shostakovich symphony, this exuberance never gave way to ill discipline.

It is very easy in the Rachmaninov to slow the pace down and wallow in the romance within the music. This was never going to happen with this ever attentive conductor or the fine technician at the keyboard..

Because there are moments when it is extremely loud some listeners tend to be taken over by the big sound and forget to look for subtleties that are hiding all over the place in Shostakovich's Symphony No10. This Audience could have no excuses for thinking of this work as just being a big noise in view of the intelligent way in which Pavel Kogan and the Orchestra interrupted the work.