Gordon Getty's music is, on the one hand, very relatable to our current times and the spiritual search of people today, and on the other, is a timeless reflection on life and death, love, the world, and the fate of mankind. The composer's ability to bring out the deepest meaning behind the words and to bring this meaning into musical forms, along with his individual and expressive intonation, are distinctive features of his talent.
The RNO Festival again surprises not only with the quality of the performances, but with the detailed consideration of the entire enterprise: from the choice of guest musicians to the excellent programming.... [The RNO] does not need to resort to artifices. They possess the talent to constantly remind one of the significance of true art: it does not age, and is always original and fresh. The eighth RNO Grand Festival was yet again proof of that.
From the very first sounds of the piano, the audience held its breath... and did not exhale again until the final note was sounded.
This is a very difficult opera, overflowing with dramatics and emotion. Under the leadership of the experienced maestro thoroughly knowledgeable in Rossini, all those who participated in the concert performance of Ermione accomplished their roles. Bravo to the Russian National Orchestra, which perfectly embodied the opera's score... It was a grandiose enterprise... harmonic and whole...
When I took off my 3D glasses and stopped peering into the screen, I could finally truly enjoy the evening... And this is exactly what I value about the RNO's performances: you are guaranteed to be impressed. [These] musicians have that rare talent of reminding us about the nature of true art, which doesn't grow old, which is always original and fresh. And the eighth Russian National Orchestra Grand Festival has become yet another testimony to this fact.
The artistic merit of the images on the screen was underwhelming in comparison to the beautiful music of Gordon Getty, Gustav Holst and Claude Debussy, and to the excellence of the orchestra and choir.
Star musicians from all over the world took part in the festival. They were enthusiastically applauded by Muscovites and visitors to the Russian capital. It was a pleasure and a joy to observe how music unites people of different beliefs, ages and nationalities.
The inspiration of the festival and its artistic director, Mikhail Pletnev, appeared before audiences in several roles – as soloist, ensemblist, and conductor. It is no accident that his multifaceted talent is recognized the world over. ...The orchestra under Pletnev's direction demonstrated the highest class of music-making in its dynamic scale, and in the unity of its playing and subtle nuances.
In Iolanta there is legend, the path of the human soul striving from darkness toward light, esoteric and Christian thoughts, and Tchaikovsky's own difficult mortal sufferings on the meaning of life, love and death. How perfectly Mikhail Pletnev succeeded in revealing these meanings from Iolanta... It was an outstanding interpretation.
Pletnev's gift to the audience was piano: the forgotten, quiet, still quieter, still quieter yet, almost inaudible, airy, ethereal, piano, which is almost impossible to hear in modern concert halls. Pletnev's piano bordered on the miraculous...
This concert will be long remembered, and it was a bright version (although the word 'bright' sounds like a misnomerwith respect to its fifty shades of pianissimo).
Classical Music News
The Mikhail Pletnev/Stephan Genz performance carried us into another dimension of reality, thanks to the rare level of skill we witnessed.
From the very first bars, the orchestra in Ermione was engulfed by the Rossini temperament, dynamic and at once dramatic. It was truly a magical feast of sound. The variety of orchestral colors, the resonant combinations of instrumental texture, the dynamic saturation and sharp contrasts – all of this allows us to call Maestro Zedda's interpretation outstanding.
Maestro Pletnev, stepping into the role of demiurge commanding the music, did not hurry toward the finale. He slowly played out 'Chaos,' emphasizing the unthinkable during Haydn's dissonances, and with an imperious gesture 'included' the dazzling, C-major chord ('Let There Be Light!'), then proceeded through the text, savoring every detail, from the nightingale to the roar of the lion.
Noble restraint was plentiful both from Haydn and Mikhail Pletnev, who conducted The Creation oratorio. The masterpiece, borne out of the silence, was the orchestral introduction – the original 'Chaos'. The RNO musicians were able to demonstrate their mastery, bringing to life pages in the score where the composer portrayed the animals created by God (anticipating Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals), articulating doves through bassoons, and whales through the low strings.
The orchestra was at its peak, clearly expressing the greatness and tenderness of a fairy tale composed by Tchaikovsky about faith in happy endings.
Here, in my opinion, there cannot be two opinions: the performance was excellent: polished to a shine, beyond reproach.
[This] performance was one of the most memorable events not just of the festival but of the entire season.... Pletnev amazingly senses and embodies not just the rhythmic or even the dramatic, but the heavenly beauty of this music... In the Pletnev version, the opera has become something like a lyrical-mystical oratorio in a refined, symphonized form. Iolanta was played as Tchaikovsky wrote it – in one section, in one breath, yet the breathing was recognizably Pletnevian, subtly constrained, carefully sustained, but steady....
What They’re Saying
"To present American and Russian musicians performing and teaching together at Festival Napa Valley...is precisely the kind of effort that sustains vital cultural links...at a critical time for both societies. [This] resonates with the public [and] is meaningful for the musician participants...Cultural diplomacy and music offer alternatives to contention and sustain important linkages between our societies for the long run...Now more than ever we need viable citizen-to-citizen points of contact and dialogue."
James F. Collins (Ambassador Ret.)
Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace