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The Cherry Orchard Festival Presents a Gala Concert with Vladimir Spivakov's Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall
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The Cherry Orchard Festival Presents a Gala Concert with Vladimir Spivakov's Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall

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Cherry Orchard Festival

35th Anniversary Gala
Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra
Vladimir Spivakov, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Baritone
Olga Kern, Piano
Ivari Ilja, Piano
Soloists of the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation

At Avery Fisher Hall

Press: Keith Sherman and Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 18, 2014

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48
Rachmaninoff: Kavatina Aleko
Rachmaninoff: Ne poy krasavitza, pri mne (Do Not Sing My Beauty)
Cesti: Si mantiene il mio amor
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271
Rachmaninoff: Vocalise
Paganini: Variations on One String on a Theme from “Moses” by Rossini
Shostakovich: Elegy and Polka, Op. 36
Sherling: Capriccio (“Sinai Desert”) for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra
Van Heusen: “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”
Shostakovich: Concerto No. 1 in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra,
Op. 35

This afternoon’s Gala concert at Fisher Hall was a magnificent introduction to a truly virtuosic ensemble, one that deserves its name, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Vladimir Spivakov, the Founder and Artistic Director, a renowned violinist, is also the Conductor of the Virtuosi, which he formed with professional associates in 1979. In 1983 the Moscow Virtuosi gained official support from the then Soviet Union, and in 2003 it found a home at the Moscow International Performing Arts Center. This chamber orchestra has an active, international touring schedule and first performed in the US in 1987. Today’s concert was a production of the Cherry Orchard Festival, which celebrates unique, cultural entertainment and education in New York City and beyond. Maestro Spivakov conducted eleven works, plus encores, from memory, with lively, rhythmic gestures and a palpable rapport with his Orchestra.

Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings is the score for a Balanchine ballet often performed by New York City Ballet across the Plaza. It was thrilling this time to absorb the music on its own, imagining the visual dancing but intently listing for cues to musical phrases. Maestro Spivakov kept the first half of the Serenade to a rapid tempo, more rapid than ballet tempo, while the finale was slower and played at a whisper. In the pure orchestral version, nuance is noticeable, especially in passages featuring cellos. The first two Rachmaninoff works were for baritone and piano, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky appearing in a glamorous, formal black suit to sing Kavatina Aleko, accompanied by Ivari Ilja on piano. The piece was powerful, poignant, and conflicted. Ne poi Krasavitza, pri mne was yearning, expressive, and expansive. Mr. Hvorostovsky related strongly to his fans in the audience, most of whom were speaking Russian in the lobbies. He has operatic presence and compelling vocal strength. Mr. Ilja showcased the drama in Rachmaninoff’s themes. For Cesti’s Si mantiene il mio amor, Mr. Hvorostovsky sang with the Chamber Orchestra, when Mr. Ilja left the stage. The piece was filled with rapture and impassioned lyricism.

After intermission, Maestro Spivakov conducted the fist “Allegro” movement of the mesmerizing Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9, introducing youthful pianist, Vladislav Kern, son of Olga Kern. Mr. Kern is a scholarship recipient of the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation. Mr. Kern played with poise and remarkable confidence, mastering solo piano interludes with aplomb. Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise had an exceptional interpretation by the Chamber Orchestra and Anastasia Kobekina, on cello. Ms. Kobekina plays a 19th century cello, donated by the Spivakov Charity Foundation. This was one of the finest Vocalises I’ve ever heard, sumptuous and expressive, with a stunning duet by cellist and Concertmaster, Alexey Lundin. Ms. Kobekina remained for the Paganini Variations from “Moses”. The music was lyrical and romantic, as the tempo swirled faster and faster. The Shostakovich Elegy and Polka was performed by Maestro Spivakov’s Chamber Orchestra with pizzicato string flourishes, the stamping of musicians’ feet, and occasional vocal “ha’s”, as it shifted seamlessly from elegy/adagio to polka/allegretto.

At this time, the youthful Matvey Sherling, in his second appearance with the Moscow Virtuosi, played alto sax for his own composition, Capriccio (“Sinai Desert”) for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra. This sensual, surreal piece included woodwinds (seated to the rear of the orchestra) and tambourine. The theme had overlapping Middle Eastern echoes and astounding cultural maturity, beyond Mr. Sherling’s years. As an early encore, Mr. Sherling played Van Heusen’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” with the Orchestra, 1940’s styled, with lush string interludes and Mr. Sherling’s soaring sax solos. The final work on the program was Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, a score for a Ratmansky ballet, recently presented by American Ballet Theatre, also across the Plaza. Once again, it was thrilling to listen to this piece, sans dance, appreciating the verve and vivacity of the trumpet and piano. Olga Kern, a featured performer in today’s Gala, had a long wait to appear on stage, and the crowd welcomed her warmly. She wore an elegant burgundy gown, and her piano solos and transcendent themes were propulsive and profound. Fedor Yarovoy kept the intertwining, trumpet phrases intense and energized, By time the music reached the “Allegro con brio” movement, the Hall was on fire. I can now see why Ratmansky included this Concerto in his new ballet trilogy.

Maestro Spivakov was summoned endlessly for accolades and bows, until he brought forth a few encores. The final encore was Piazzolla’s Libertango played in dazzling and dashing tango rhythm. Maestro Spivakov ended the final note by spinning to face the audience, arms raised on the upbeat. Kudos to all.

Vladimir Spivakov,
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor,
and Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra
Courtesy of The Cherry Orchard Festival

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at