Wagner, Beethoven, Strauss
The conductor (Gennady Rozhdestvensky) and soloist (Aleksandr Rozhdestvensky) did not make it (I presume they are stuck somewhere because of the volcanic ash which has shut down most air traffic in Europe), so the concert was not as advertised.
Mikhail Granovsky, a youngish (30s?) conductor, took over the podium.
The concert started with the Overture to Liebesverbot, Wagner’s early opera. The Bolshoi Orchestra strings sounded like mush, as though someone miked them and turned up the speaker volume too high. Despite that, the winds actually overpowered them anyway. But instead of a balanced sound, I got to hear new secondary and internal lines in the music, and so at least I learned new parts of this piece. I just kept having to deal with the uncomfortable noise coming from the strings.
We then got two Beethoven romances for violin and orchestra. The soloist was Mikhail Tsinman, who teaches violin at the Conservatory. He took a while to get into tune. Certainly had not gotten there before the end of the first romance. By the second romance he wasn’t so bad. If I ever hear him perform again, however, I will remember to arrive late to give him time to get his act together.
After the intermission came the Simfonia Domestica by Richard Strauss. This was worth sticking around for. Granovsky had the orchestra under control for this piece. The strings were still a bit mushy, but he managed to de-emphasise them sufficiently. The winds (both woodwinds and brass) produced sumptuous sounds. A worthy performance.