Recent News
Colin Currie
A striking performance from percussionist Colin Currie
Boston Globe
Colin Currie
Colin Currie brings probing mind and energetic technique to Pickman Hall
Boston Classical Review
Shai Wosner
Beethoven: Complete Cello Sonatas and Variations CD review – here's how to make Beethoven's huge structures work
The Guardian
Johannes Debus, Patricia Racette
A riveting Racette ignites in Met’s “Salome”
New York Classical Review
Wynton Marsalis, James Conlon, Giancarlo Guerrero, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Eric Jacobsen, Mariss Jansons, Ludovic Morlot, David Robertson, Gene Scheer, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Mason Bates, Silk Road Ensemble , Nashville Symphony , St. Louis Symphony Orchestra , The Knights , Patti LuPone, Georgia Jarman, Ian Bostridge, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, Lucas Meachem, Luca Pisaroni
2017 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
JoAnn Falletta
How the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Hit Its Stride
New York State of Opportunity
Colin Currie
Colin Currie provides the highlight in New World’s program of contemporary German music
South Florida Classical Review
Review: VOCES8's "Winter"
Shai Wosner
Review: Shai Wosner's Haydn/Ligeti
The TEN Tenors
The TEN Tenors Launch Holiday Tour, Support St Jude Children’s Hospital

News archive »

LSO / Gergiev / Kavakos – review

Leonidas Kavakos
The Guardian (UK)

By Tim Ashley

Valery Gergiev's fascination with the music of Rodion Shchedrin continues to puzzle. The latest offering in the LSO's ongoing survey of his work was Lithuanian Saga, written in 2009 to mark both Vilnius's year as European Capital of Culture and the 600th anniversary of the defeat, at Tannenberg, of an army of Teutonic Knights by allied Lithuanian and Polish forces.

As with much of Shchedrin's output, we're conscious of a mix of worthiness and unoriginality. A thumping, brassy battle scene that invites comparison with Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky is followed by some grand ceremonial music reminiscent of the end of Stravinsky's Firebird. That Shchedrin is trying to emphasise continuities between pre-revolutionary, Soviet and post-Soviet music is clear and admirable, but there's also a lack of distinction in both material and scoring that perplexes.

The rest of the evening, however, reminded us just how exhilarating Gergiev can be when on form. Lithuanian Saga was followed by a performance of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto that ranks among the greatest. Leonidas Kavakos was the soloist, supremely confident in the face of its technical challenges and marvellously alert to its profound emotional shifts. The climactic passacaglia, one of the great tragic statements of 20th-century music, was devastating in its directness and immediacy. Orchestral textures were sinewy and uncompromisingly stark. It received a standing ovation, richly deserved.

Finally, there was Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony, arguably his most problematic. There's no real slow movement, and the finale, which in Tchaikovsky's day sent many into raptures, now strikes us as repetitive. Yet the vigour of Gergiev's interpretation, all darting flashes of colour and contrast, was immensely appealing, and the finesse and panache of the playing were second to none. Very fine.