Review: The Moscow Symphony

Frederic Cone

Frederic ConeNews Editor

It was a night to remember and possibly one of the finest classical performances I have seen &- not just here in South Dakota, but in my hometown of Seattle, Wash. as well.

Upon entering the front doors to the Performing Arts Center, my guest and I walked into the crowded main lobby of finely dressed ladies and gentlemen mingling with each other waiting for the show to begin.

Prior to the doors opening to the symphony, Dan Brown, dean of the Music Department, President David Chicoine and the Brookings Mayor Tim Reed spoke to the crowd to welcome everyone and thank Conductor Pavol Kogan and the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra for coming to Brookings.

When the cordialities ended, the doors to the symphony hall were opened, and the throng of guests filed in. We made our way upstairs to the balcony level and quickly found are seats along the right side.

It wasn’t long before the members of the symphony began filing onto to the stage and tuning up their instruments. Then finally Kogan walked onto the stage with the crowd giving him a great welcoming ovation.

The symphony began the performance with “Capriccio Italien, Op. 45” by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It started off softly and slowly and quickly gained momentum. Soon the various sections of the symphony were alternately playing off each other in a beautiful synchronicity. Though the opening performance began slowly, the ending was a sharp crescendo of music.

After a standing ovation by the crowd and three bowing encores by the conductor, Maestro Kogan returned once more to the stage with featured guest violinist Jennifer Koh to perform the “Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64” by Felix Mendelssohn.

It was truly a delight to watch Koh, accompanied by the symphony, work her magic on the violin. In alternating succession they would play off each other in near perfect harmony.

Koh’s solo violin work, so full of passion and depth and emotion, if one closed their eyes they could almost visualize the notes flowing off her violin and out into the crowd. The intricateness of her movements across the violin and how the notes mixed with the overall symphony was a work of a rising master.

As before, the performance reached a crescendo and then ended with a flourish. The crowd erupted with cheers and yet another standing ovation for Koh and the symphony lasting several minutes and multiple encore appearances by Koh and Maestro Kogan.

After the intermission, the symphony and Maestro Kogan came back on stage for their final performance of the night, Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibit.” Maestro Kogan knew what he was doing when laying out which pieces they were going to play and in what order.

Although this final performance encompassed multiple individual symphonic pieces as the symphony under the guidance of Kogan began, I quickly became lost within the music and had trouble at times distinguishing where the transitions into the different movements were.

Perhaps this was simply because I gave myself up to simply enjoying the performance as a grand unifying whole and wasn’t concerned so much with picking it all apart. Whatever the case, this final performance really brought the whole experience together and left me satiated at the end but still yearning for more music.