The Armenian Philharmonic, conducted by Ruben Asatryan, gave a concert tonight that I probably should have skipped. Workmanlike, but dull.
Marine Abrahamyan performed as soloist in Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto. She hit all the notes. The old Steinway piano, though in tune, sounded like it had gone past its use-by date, since it had an excessively sour tone. Apparently they have a new concert piano at the Khachaturian Hall, but Abrahamyan prefers this one because the keys are broken in and easier to play. After the applause, she subjected us to a series of encores. Every time we thought she had finished and the orchestra started to sneak off the stage, she reappeared and started playing again. Maybe with a better-sounding instrument she might have achieved something (although one of her encores was an ugly modern piece by an Armenian composer which probably sounds better on a bad piano). Eventually her annoying behavior stopped and we got to take a walk about for intermission.
After the intermission came Brahms’ First Symphony. Convinced that there was nothing new to say after Beethoven, Brahms only put notes on paper cautiously. Although some of his works can be pleasant enough, no one can consider Brahms original. It therefore takes charismatic performers to add excitement to Brahms, something that may have been too much for tonight’s band to provide. The Armenian Philharmonic’s winds were once again good, particularly the woodwinds, and overall the orchestra made it through the piece without problem but also without providing any enlightenment.