An all Russian programme-substantially changed from the original schedule-retaining Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No1 with the much recorded artist Stephen Hough.
With Kirill Karabits on the podium the performance was as good as it gets; a fanfare and powerful scalic entry from Hough made its point, turning then to romantic expression.
Karabits made the most of the orchestral tensions and from Hough the cadenza’s fiendish fingerwork was the highlight.
Gentle scoring through the Andante and by turns drama and great ropes of notes in the finale offered little of appeal to this listener, nothing here of Rachmaninov’s renowned melodic memorability. The encore, Midnight in Moscow, as it is best known, showed Hough’s fine sensitivity.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No1 ‘Winter Daydreams’ suggests that to be a worthwhile pastime in the depth of an icy Russian winter. The first movement’s ‘winter journey’ found Karabits evoking some rather perilous travelling, and in the Adagio quietly moving through mists under the influence of Edward Kay’s singing oboe.
The Scherzo-Mendelssohnian with bite-enclosed a delicious waltz that exuded romantic nights. After a hesitant start the finale seems to look forward to spring; a cheerful outlook that eventually gathers enormous pace which Karabits judged with absolute assurance.
Dawn on the Moscow River, Mussorgsky’s highly atmospheric prelude from Khovanschina, was superbly played.