The violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky is a sort of big bad wolf of the concert platform, gobbling up all musical common sense. He is out to mesmerize, to shock, to jest, to leg-pull. In Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, he kept everyone on their toes by slowing impulsively then zooming off, or going dreamy and moony in the midst of a pleasant tune, only to pop out of the bushes and pounce.
This was not an orchestra or a conductor (Vladimir Fedosseyev) to be too worried by such treatment. They had plenty of waifs and strays of their own. In the absence of anything you could call orchestral discipline, they simply joined the party. It turned into a vastly entertaining knees-up and brought the house down. "Romeo and Juliet" had the same sort of spontaneity; it was electrifying. But you can't exactly do Shostakovich this way, and his Tenth Symphony sounded moody rather than profound. The side-drummer might have been relieving Stalingrad single-handed, but the elegiac, oblique irony of the piece simply gave way to old-fashioned sentiment. Still, if these players are simple souls, it was good to be simple just for once in a Festival.
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