Back to the Khachaturian Hall for a concert by the adult orchestra (Armenian Philharmonic) tonight, under the baton of Djong Victorin Yu, a Korean conductor (with a Philadelphia connection – he studied music composition at Penn; his age is unclear from his bio, and he looks ageless, but I think he must have been there in the 1970s).
Sibelius framed the concert, starting with Finlandia. Yu took it at a slower tempo than usual, to emphasize Sibelius’ lush tonalities. Unfortunately, this may not have worked so well with this orchestra. The orchestra is perfectly adequate, but its sound is not quite full enough, particularly in the strings. Fortunately, Yu allowed the brass section to growl in a way that Vengerov did not allow these same musicians to do when they backed up the Youth State Symphony on Tuesday, but they could not compensate for the strings. Oddly, Yu took a different approach for the final work – Sibelius’ Second Symphony, a moody work often performed much more slowly than Yu did it today. The faster tempo worked better for this orchestra, since we did not have to dwell on the tonalities.
Between the two Sibelius pieces came an unenthusiastic performance of nine movements from Grieg’s Peer Gynt incidental music. I’m wondering if the Sibelius second symphony after the intermission was more enthusiastic because half the orchestra rushed themselves to the bar in the basement of the concert hall during the break.
As an encore, we got the Andante from Grieg’s From Holberg’s Time. Unfortunately, this is all strings. Again, they were not so bad, but simply a tad thin and uninspired.