Classical review: Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Perth

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SUCH is the historic musical tradition of a country like Russia, its orchestras can dine out exclusively on home produce. That’s been the theme of The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra’s current tour of the UK, including last night’s closing concert at the Perth Festival, performed under its musical director Pavel Kogan.

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra

Perth Concert Hall

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There’s a certain way, too, that Russian orchestras make this music so much their own. A brass sound that cuts the air like a knife, woodwind with cloying individual attitude, the fearless cut-throat bravado of the percussion, and strings whose fiery energy is edged with a steely coldness.

It was all there in an opening half that prefaced Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 with the dizzy eccentricities of Rimsky Korsakov’s suite from his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan.

The focus, though, was on the Tchaikovsky and the young Tatiana Kolesova, a pianist of the old Russian stock whose performance was power-driven in the extreme. There was poetry, too, in the more reflective lyrical passages, though lacking just a little in genuine singing tone.

More Tchaikovsky in the second half – the whirling inferno that is his Dantesque Francesca da Rimini – and the most sizzling performance of the evening. Before that, two short pieces by Khachaturian – the adagio from Spartacus and the wild frenzy of the waltz from Masquerade – were the perfect aperitif.