The latest performance of the Russian National Orchestra took place in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. At the helm was special guest conductor Vladimir Gorbik, Principal Conductor and Director of the Capital Symphony Orchestra and Senior Choir Conductor of the Holy Trinity – St Sergius Lavra.
The program of this concert was dedicated to the work of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose anniversary last year was celebrated by the entire musical world. The music of this Russian genius is the symbol and hallmark of the Russian National Orchestra. For the musical director of the ensemble, Mikhail Pletnev, the name of Tchaikovsky is sacred. Under his direction, the Orchestra has presented many works of the Russian master composer. In so doing, the sound and traditions implemented by Pletnev in his orchestra have come to bring to the listener a special freshness and a magical perception. In each season, Russian music dominates the broad creative repertoire of the RNO. At the end of March of this year, Maestro Thomas Sanderling presented to Muscovites and visitors to the capital an extraordinary interpretation of Alexander Glazunov’s Sixth Symphony. In the same evening, the famous Violin Concerto by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was performed with soloist Ivan Pochekin.
But the journey across the boundless ocean of Tchaikovsky's music did not end there. The Violin Concerto in D major was followed by the equally popular First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in B flat minor. There are common threads between both of these works, threads of which invisibly lead us to the Fourth Symphony in F minor, with its lyrical and dramatic narration, as the logical conclusion of this as a concert series. It is no coincidence that both works are combined in one program. The solo part in the First Piano Concerto was brilliantly performed by Andrey Gugnin, a gifted musician with an extraordinary palette of emotive interpretation and phenomenal sound. His delicate playing was full of light and harmony, each phrase filled with natural breath and nobility. Andrei Gugnin's impeccable connection with the Russian National Orchestra under the sensitive direction of Vladimir Gorbik was crowned with well-deserved success and recognition from the public, which gave the artists a generous - and sustained - standing ovation.
Vladimir Gorbik: “In my opinion, Andrei Gugnin is an amazing musician. A special feature in his playing is the ability to ‘sing’ on the piano. All the influences of the First Concerto echoed in such a special murmuring image, like stormy streams in the springtime, when nature awakens after hibernation. Andrey's phenomenal technique combined with special musicality and soft touch won me over. I was very pleased to accompany such a wonderful musician. Our piano school is amazing, it continues to preserve the basis of our national culture, including our singing culture.”
Vladimir Gorbik's collaboration with the Russian National Orchestra turned out to be very fruitful. The high artistic result of painstaking rehearsals was fully evident at the concert. The orchestra played with incredible focus and dedication. The musicians were of one mind and heart with the conductor, and they performed incredible miracles on stage. Each bar of Tchaikovsky's immortal scores was filled with life-giving energy and soul-shaking emotion, overwhelming the hearts of both the musicians and their enthralled audience.
Vladimir Gorbik: The Russian National Orchestra is not just a highly professional team of soloists responding with mutual solidarity. In this organization, people are madly in love with music! I have been familiar with the history of the Russian National Orchestra for a long time, I have repeatedly listened to it under the direction of various conductors, including Mikhail Pletnev. And even in my first rehearsals, I got to know some of the musicians, and this process drew my attention to those special details that helped me a lot in my work, and we brought those details to life in the concert.
The name of Tchaikovsky is dear to every Russian person. I consider it a successful combination of works within the framework of one program, since such youthful spring impulses that we hear in the music of the First Piano Concerto are replaced by the dramatic themes of the famous Fourth Symphony with its crushing theme of fate. The orchestra members responded very well to my hand; it was noticeable that they had a profoundly wonderful experience in doing this. It is always unpredictable when a conductor first appears in front of the musicians of the orchestra, one with whom they have never worked before - whether they will accept his hand or not - this is always a big question! Here, in principle, there were no problems at all. It was so easy and unconstrained for me to work with the musicians of the Russian National Orchestra that any wave of the baton, any impulse of my soul coincided as much as possible with the desire for a response from the orchestra members, which brought out their own energy. This was especially reflected in the interpretation of the works themselves. I really love that the soul of each of the musicians opened wide to this interpretation, and that it was just the way they feel it themselves."
This is Vladimir Gorbik's second performance in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory after his February concert there with the Capital Symphony Orchestra. It is also important that this most recent concert with the Russian National Orchestra coincided with the weeks of Great Lent - a special time in the Orthodox Church calendar.
Vladimir Gorbik: “Tchaikovsky's music has a deep spiritual connection. The First Piano Concerto and the Fourth Symphony with its sufferings and experiences, as well as other works of the composer, I perceive from a spiritual point of view. It is amazing that the Lord gave me such a joy-filled opportunity to get in touch with this great music in the days before the Bright Resurrection of Christ. "
Translated by Seraphim Hanisch