reviewed by Paula Citron
Yuri Bashmet and Moscow Soloists
Music by Grieg, Bruch, Stravinsky, Paganini and Tchaikovsky
Conducted by Bashmet
Performed by Bashmet, viola, and Moscow Soloists
At Roy Thomson Hall
The great Russian viola player/conductor Yuri Bashmet and his Moscow Soloists arrived at Roy Thomson Hall with great fanfare. It was a concert of exquisite musicianship, but curiously lacking in fire. There is, however, enormous satisfaction garnered from music that is performed to perfection in a concert that is to be greatly admired, if not emotionally involving.
From the very first selection, Grieg’s Holberg Suite for String Orchestra, one heard a sound that was astonishingly lush, so much so that the often maligned acoustics of Roy Thomson Hall sounded like the best recital hall in the world. With this work, Bashmet set the tone – a concert that served the composers absolutely, a concert where nuance, colour and modulation were the key – much like an art gallery of music, rather than music from the heart.
Bashmet’s own viola playing in pieces by Bruch and Paganini lifted that instrument to new heights of light and darkness. Bashmet and his players made you listen.