Argentina Tchaikovsky: Ekaterina Goncharova and Andrei Bondarenko, Valery Gergiev (conductor), Orchestra of Teatro Colón, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 11.3.2013. (JSJ)
The approach of autumn after the long humid Buenos Aires summer also heralds the revival of the musical season, and what a start, with Valery Gergiev, director-general and artistic director of St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre leading a special (free public) concert to mark the association between the two cities.
Entitled “Music of the city of white nights,” a reference to St Petersburg summers when the night sky stays light, the program was devoted to the music of Tchaikovsky, who had so many associations with the city, and opened with the Act 3 Polonaise from Eugene Onegin – itself set in St Petersburg.
This was followed by Iolanta’s aria from the work of the same name, Yeletsky’s aria from The Queen of Spades, and the closing scene of Eugene Onegin, interspersed with the Adagio from The Nutcracker.
Then in the second half, the majestic and colourful Symphony No 5, which had its premiere in St Petersburg with the composer himself conducting.
The opera excerpts were presented by Mariinsky soprano Ekaterina Goncharova and young Ukranian baritone Andrei Bondarenko, who brought drama, intensity and depth to these.
Maestro Gergiev brought a particular energy to this music, of which he is obviously so familiar – he conducted the symphony without a score – conveyed in the movements of his hand and his interpretation is in the contrasts and the clarity given to the individual “voices” of the instrumentation. From the heavy dark opening chords through the lightness of the waltz, the growing tension matched the gathering momentum of the last movement, with the brilliance of the final resolution that closes the work palpable.
Following the concert an accord was signed by Maestro Gergiev and Pedro Pablo García Caffi, director general and artistic director of the Teatro Colón on “collaboration” between the Mariinsky and Colón. This will commence with a visit by García Caffi to the Mariinsky to seek out artists who could be brought to the Colón, according to the Colón’s press notice.
Jonathan Spencer Jones