March 24, 2003

I have learned, yet again, to buy tickets early, before they either sell out or the only seats remaining are the prohibitively expensive.

The Kirov Orchestra performed under the direction of Valery Gergiev at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall on Friday…and I missed it. And judging from Peter Dobrin's review in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, I really missed it.

Dobrin writes:

There is nothing precious about the Kirov Orchestra. Sure, there were moments in its performance Friday night at the Kimmel Center when volume was reduced to a sub-whisper. But such sonic peace almost seemed like a parlor trick next to the ensemble's basic roaring character. The musicians played so loudly for so long they seemed to cut the size of Verizon Hall by half....

It's always a mistake to draw sweeping conclusions based on one performance. But it is pretty clear that of all the orchestras that have come through town in the Kimmel's visiting-orchestra series, the Kirov is the most extroverted. The basic concept of sound seeks boldness over blending, and a certain macho heroism over silken sound....

We hear orchestral prettiness in this town on a regular basis. I might not enjoy being manhandled by the Kirov three or four times a week, but this one-night fling was a wonderful reminder of just how wild an orchestra can be.

My regret at missing the Kirov's performance stems not from Dobrin's wild enthusiasm for the ensemble -- the review is not entirely favorable. Instead, the critic's take on the evening reminded me of a critical turning point in my enthusiasm for orchestral music: a performance of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra more than 10 years ago. Talk about wild.

You know, it's nice to be blasted out of one's seat now and again. I could have used it.


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