by Daniel Hathaway
Now that classical music has become increasingly homogenized through globalization, there’s something deeply satisfying about experiencing works from a national tradition interpreted by conductors and soloists who grew up speaking the language. On Thursday evening, Russian conductor Vassily Sinaisky and Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein treated the Severance Hall audience to deeply-felt performances of music by Liadov, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. Led early on by Russian conductors, The Cleveland Orchestra has a near-native feel for this repertory and played it with expressive passion coupled with New World precision.
Conducting with his bare hands, Sinaisky, who is music director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, painted perfect little scenes for each of Anatoly Liadov’s Eight Russian Folk Songs to open the program. English horn and bassoon solos (Robert Walters and Barrick Stees) set a solemn mood for the “Religious Chant,” an affect that first assistant principal cellist Richard Weiss recaptured later in the “Plaintive Song.” “Dance of the Gnat” created a buzz both in the strings and an amused audience. Mary Kay Fink’s piccolo soared out over pizzicato strings in the “Round Dance,” and a vivacious orchestral tutti brought the set of tiny pieces to a celebratory ending in the “Village Dance Song.” [Read more…]