Khachaturian, Tschaikowsky, Brahms
The concert promoters mislabeled tonight’s concert as a “Russian” night, even though a piece by the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian made up the first half of the program. Perhaps the they did this to recognize Armenia recently joining the Eurasian Union as part of its gradual reincorporation into Russia.
The Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock performed in Salzburg’s Great Festival House under the baton of the Viennese conductor Florian Krumpöck, with young Austrian (from a village near Salzburg) violinist Christine-Maria Höller performing the solo for the Khachaturian Violin Concerto. I do not think they understood this piece at all. Möller’s playing was more mechanical than lyrical, and she never captured the wild Caucasian dance melodies. She demonstrated fine tone and technique, just not feeling. Krumpöck also allowed the orchestra to overwhelm her at times, with unsatisfying consequences.
Tschaikowsky’s Fifth Symphony came after the intermission. Krumpöck did his best to capture the composer’s innate dancing, with lilting gestures on the podium, but the orchestra did not respond and failed to reflect those moods, generally playing with a lack of fluidity. Not until the marching final movement did the orchestra respond – good Germans, I suppose: at least they know how to march. Even so, this is supposed to be a melancholy march, and while rousing they did not capture Tschaikowsky’s depression. Still, the main part of the concert ended on a strength.
For an encore, Krumpöck and the Rostock orchestra jumped into the Hungarian Dance #5 by Brahms. Brahms the Germans understood: finally they danced.