Saturday, 7 April 2012

Gergiev and Vengerov

The musical week in London has been rather dominated by the Russians, and my two assignments included a pair of concerts given by Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky forces at the Barbican (Parsifal and the Verdi Requiem, reviewed here) and Maxim Vengerov's 'official' return to the London concert platform with a Wigmore Hall recital -- reviewed here and well worth trying to catch when it's broadcast on Radio 3 on April 29.

It was great to hear Vengerov again, even if I found some of his playing a bit forced. His freshness -- a result, apparently, of his stepping back from the globe-trotting virtuoso's treadmill to concentrate on conducting and educational work -- stood in contrast to that of Gergiev's singers, in particular. The Russian maestro is renowned for his boundless energy, but one has to question whether he's doing those singers any favours in forcing them to keep up. This week, for example, the same soloists were performing three Parsifals in six days, and apparently they were a great deal fresher in the first in Cardiff than they were, at least, in London -- it'd be interesting to know how they got on in Birmingham last night. 

It was a shame, too, that Viktoria Yastrebova, the soprano soloist in the Requiem seemed so out of sorts. She's been hailed in some quarters (in The Times, for example, following her appearance in a Sadler's Wells Tsar Saltan in 2008) as the new Anna Netrebko -- despite a rather different repertoire, which included a Tosca at La Scala in 2010-11 -- and she certainly, how shall we say it, is camera-friendly. On Wednesday the voice showed some lovely qualities, but she never really let it go in the way it must be able to (one doesn't get far in Tosca holding back like that). 

In the Parsifal cast, I was impressed if not bowled over by Yuri Vorobiov, the bass who made a very respectable job of Gurnemanz but who didn't seem to have the charisma or authority for it quite yet. It's a really lovely voice, though, as this clip of him in Sarastro's aria shows. He's due to be making his ROH debut next season as Colline in La Bohème.

Let's hope he's survived his own personal Gurnemanz-athon intact. 

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