THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-MET CONCERT 2 RUSSIAN NIGHTS @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL

Above : Piano soloist Clemens Leske, who performed the Piano Concerto No 3 by Rachmaninoff. Featured image: TMO with Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams.

The latest Met Concert from The Metropolitan Orchestra was a mesmerising event full of fine intensity, clarity and sensuality we would expect from music of the Russian masters. Attention to detail and a consummate realisation of any atmospheric challenge were once more hallmarks of TMO’s concert package.

This orchestra was joined by local pianist Clemens Leske to present the awesome ‘ Rach 3’. There was stunning synchronicity and emotional unison in their combined exploration of subtleties and
sheer power in this famous concerto.

The showcase for TMO alone in this Met Concert was Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. This sprawling suite of programmatic intricacy and dramatic musical narrative was deliciously rendered
by TMO’s skilful storytellers across all orchestral sections.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s preoccupation with the exotic oriental themes require delicate enunciation throughout this work. The colourful scenes and sentiments suggested in the music and depictipon of the voice of the Sultana Sheherazade crave crystal clear delivery from  orchestral sections and solo instruments employed.

TMO’s soloists from various instrumental groups followed each other with candid energy. Concertmaster Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich especially delivered fine solo violin motifs full of appropriate flavour which twisted elegantly back on themselves. TMO moved with beautiful buoyancy through  assorted characterisations and evocation of scene.

Sensual multilayered sounds were here particularly well sculpted by conductor Sarah-Grace Williams into long focused lines with effective range of orchestral nuance.

There were admirable measured moments through this work taking up the entire second half of the concert . Many shifting characters and dramatic packet of tone colours were cleanly combined and served to the listeners.

Crisp and concisely packaged emotional intensity was also in evidence in a tremendously direct and precise performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor Op 30. TMO and pianist Clemens Leske shared the stage and the performance of this work with equal swoops of emotional depth.

TMO showed stunning precision in unisons with Leske. An intelligent attention to the architecture of this concerto from piano soloist and TMO was in evidence. Soloist and orchestra found fresh elements to highlight in the score. Sarah-Grace Williams cleanly combined these to enhance the musical  momentum and to avoid overplaying at all costs or cliche gestures in the interpretation .

The result was quite a spiritual and moving experience of this famous work for listeners. Clemens Leske’s Rach 3 offered up all the usual blindingly complex bravura with seemingly effortless clarity.

In such moments however his pianism still maintained lightness and a solid direction of line. There was nice reference to musical structure and key parts of the keyboard shapes to streamline the hectic filigree with expert choices for nuance and articulation.

There were beautifully lyrical moments in the slow movement and throughout the entire concerto which this soloist took time to share with us and discuss with TMO. The orchestra at all times
matched to the emotion of the work and the integrity of the soloist.

A myriad of expressive colour from TMO and Leske painted a refreshing version of this Romantic masterpiece and the Russian style. TMO’s next Met Concert on July 6 promises more well-crafted Russian emotion, with music by Tchaikovsky and an excursion to Argentina with an  arrangement of music by Piazzolla.

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