Bolshoi Orchestra Stops By

Alan Buribayev

Published: May 17, 2014

MUNICH — Something has happened to Moscow’s Bolshoi Orchestra. Perhaps steady funding? It has lost its old woolly sound, judging from an April 9 Bell’Arte tour stop here at the Gasteig, and found another: a gleaming, uniformly virtuosic persona that commands attention.

Vassily Sinaisky, overseer of this transformation, curiously lost his job as Bolshoi music director last December after clashing with front-office boss Vladimir Urin, and he was replaced at lightning speed by Tugan Sokhiev. Although less dramatic than the infamous acid attack, the sudden switch deserved more attention than it got, not least as an exemplar for slow search committees.

In any case, Sokhiev could not take on last month’s nine-city Middle Europe tour, and duties fell instead to the perky Alan Buribayev (pictured), principal conductor of Dublin’s RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Program backbone: Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and D-Major Sixth Symphony. Results: mixed.

The Kazakh maestro and the soloist, Mischa Maisky, conspicuous in a saggy mustard jacket, ran breathlessly through the concerto’s first movement but better paced the rest. The Adagio sailed along on Maisky’s full ripe tone and graceful phrasing. The Finale gelled well enough that the composer’s key modulations and guileful dynamic markings could work their wonders, capped by a potent last solo crescendo and an emphatic Allegro vivo.

Buribayev beat time energetically through the symphony but, released from the need to accompany, appeared short on ideas. The Furiant sections of the Scherzo came off best. Elsewhere, eloquent woodwind contributions mitigated a loud-or-louder, inflexible reading.

Photo © Simon van Boxtel

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