Last Sat., Nov. 13, the world-renowned Moscow State Symphony Orchestra swung through Louisville during a nationwide tour to play a special engagement at the Kentucky Center's Whitney Hall. Conducted by the legendary Pavel Kogan, the orchestra played selections by Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Mussorgsky. Although it was dreary and raining outside, the atmosphere inside the Kentucky Center was abuzz with excitement for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The opening Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky was incredible. The traditional power of late Romantic Period Russian classical music and Tchaikovsky’s signature lighthearted woodwind arrangements combined for an enjoyable, uplifting experience that brought tears to many eyes. Ok, maybe that was just me, but judging by the response from the audience, I was not the only one who enjoyed it.
The second piece, Piano Concerto in A minor by Grieg was darker, but no less impressive. The second movement, the Adagio, was beautiful. Listening to it feels like floating on a cloud. American pianist, Jeremy Denk, joined the orchestra for the concerto and performed with passion and gusto. Denk has a popular blog for music lovers called Think Denk, and has traveled the world performing both solo and with prestigious musical ensembles.
After a brief intermission, the orchestra concluded its performance with Pictures at an Exhibit by Mussorgsky. Although well-known, I personally did not care much for this last piece. The style and feel of the music changes drastically from movement to movement. I did, however, enjoy the last two or three movements as they were a bit more traditional. Overall, though, the level of talent in the orchestra was utterly astonishing.
The audience went crazy with thunderous applause, whistles and cheers of “Bravo!”, and a standing ovation after each piece. As a reward for our enthusiasm, we were treated to three short encore performances. I am unsure of the titles of the encore pieces, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. For the last one, Maestro Kogan left the stage while the orchestra continued to play and only came back out in time to end the piece. It was good for a laugh and a great way to end the evening.
Photo: Courtesy Moscow State Symphony Orchestra