April 2008 Europe Tour
Vatroslav Lisinski Hall
These two stars [Mikhail Pletnev and Gidon Kremer], so unwilling to play the role of stars, joined forces to present Sibelius at his most inward-looking and Beethoven's 'Pastorale' with a new glow of gentle humanity...an unforgettable experience. [The] work of Mikhail Pletnev…all seems to get done before the performances. His vision, his radical removal of the barnacles attached by tradition to the conventional interpretations of his large repertoire, is firmly implanted on every member of his orchestra.… Pletnev needs not cajole or drive them by ostentatious body language to produce a superbly homogenous sound: supple and eloquent in its winds, robust and brazen in its brass sections, and virtuosic throughout its strings…. In all three works on the programme, there were many opportunities to show how a full-blown orchestral sound can be both majestic and warmly burnished, or how the musicians were able subtely to tiptoe their way through the intricate scoring of the allegro of the 'Pastorale'. Pletnev is well known to eschew all star-like superficialities. [He] conducts with minute flicks of his baton, just turning to the sections he wants to be heard more prominently. In solo passages, or even in fast tutti sections, he often stops using his baton altogether and allows complete freedom to the orchestra. [This] searching and finding completely new subtleties in phrasing, counterpoint and colours of orchestration…made me sit up in wonderment and delight. I must be forgiven for perhaps being overenthusiastic about a mere orchestral concert…when we put ourselves in the hands of masters like a Mikhail Pletnev or a Gidon Kremer, an entire new world can yet open in our jaded ears.