PIECUCHS CHRISTMAS CONCERTS
(Translation of a review from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia January 7, 1996 )
The guest conductor from Washington, Martin Piecuch, participated in two interesting concerts in Krasnoyarsk on 7 January, the Russian Orthodox Christmas. The one, called "Christmas Concert" took place in the Organ Hall.
Valery Ryazanovs Krasnoyarsk Municipal Choir picked out an hour after night Christmas service and between the Liturgy and foregoing Vesper to perform pieces dedicated to the holiday. The Christmas trope "Christ, Our God, Thy Birth" was presented in two musical settings: one by Georgy Sviridov and the other by a classic in the field of Russian ecclesiastic music, Stepan Degtyaryov. The choir sang with great enthusiasm the "Christmas Concerto" by Dmitry Bortnyansky. The Christmas carols intensified the festive mood to still greater extent.
The program included also "Deliverance", a piece for choir, organ and brass ensemble written to English words by Natalia Raigorodsky, an American composer. The Author is a professional, firmly relying upon commonplace means of expression. She utilizes them skillfully and reaches the result required, i.e. haughtiness and solemnity. It is an open hearted response to the first free elections in our history. It is because the performance was led by Martin Piecuch, an emotional and spirited American conductor, that the composition gained in impression on the audience. It seems that he is pretty familiar with this sort of music.
In the evening M. Piecuch headed our Academic Symphony Orchestra. His comment was: "A marvelous orchestra. I am happy to once more conduct it." The joy of communicative musicianship spread to the audience. By the way, maestro from Washington proved to be an excellent lecturing musicologist. With the help of an interpretress he explained, very comprehensively and simply, the peculiarities of works that had never sounded in our town (and in Russia as a whole).
"Sinfonia India", of Mexican composer, Carlos Chavez, is a specific three-part fused symphonic suite, based upon ancient melodies of Aztec Indians. Its modal and rhythmic features are novel for our musicians and therefore great difficulties arose. But they were overcome with honor.
The score of Aaron Coplands ballet, "Appalachian Spring", displays a hint of Stravinskys ancestral heritage. Copland had studied in the twentieth century in Paris under the famous Nadia Boulanger. At that time Stravinskys influence was hardly avoidable. But as the type of melody and rhythm are concerned, "Appalachian Spring" is closely related to American national tradition. The variations on an American hymn constituting the closing section of the ballet attracted sympathy by finesse of elaboration and interpretation.
Samuel Barbers "Commando March" and "Adagio for a Strings" happened to become the conductors triumph. The pieces belong to popular classics, i.e. they utilize musical idiom widely familiar to the masses. It seems that Maestros soul inclines toward this kind of music, as his talent does not tolerate calmly "academic" aesthetics. The charm of his personality and his creative "radiation", in some magic way, establish excellent contact with the listeners in the hall.
"Firebird" by Stravinsky sounded with due brilliance. It was a good conclusion of the concert.
M. Piecuch is due to conduct one more concert (French music) on 14 January. He is also expected to participate in two performances in the Music Comedy Theater.
Music reviewer for the "Evening Krasnoyarsk"
An attempt of translation by the Author, Boris Plotnikov, Worker Emeritus in the Field of Culture of Russia.
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