Two days after the RSNO gave us a fine young Dutch violinist, Janine Jansen, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra gives us a great young English violinist, Jennifer Pike, playing one of the great concertos. Sadly, this audience isn’t as big as the RSNO’s on Friday – maybe subscriptions help to build the audience – but they miss a great Tchaikovsky concert. If you haven’t heard of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, don’t worry, they are much better known by their previous name, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, which was one of Russia’s leading orchestras. They are under the baton of distinguished 82 year old conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev, who is in total control this Sunday afternoon.
The concert begins with a bang – the bright and loud symphonic Fantasia based on Francesca da Rimini, a character from Dante’s Divine Comedy who is the subject of Zandonai’s opera. The large orchestra gives a vibrant and colourful account of this very Wagnerian work from Tchaikovsky. We then have a wonderful rendition of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto which will be familiar to most readers. (I have a friend who once broke a vinyl copy when her husband played it too often!) Jennifer Pike, the violinist, was a child prodigy, winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2002 when she was 12, and made her Proms debut when she was 15! Now a mature 26, she gives a dazzling performance of the concerto, followed by an encore of Issay’s Sarabande.
The program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s great Fifth Symphony, expertly conducted by the sprightly Fedoseyev. The orchestra confirms that classical music is alive and well in the new Russia and that Tchaikovsky is a great companion on a Sunday afternoon.