I attended the Friday performance and thought Julie Albers demonstrated she is an amazing cellist, and an artist worth following. She sustained an incredibly beautiful sound from her instrument that filled the hall to the last rows. The demands of this work are very high, and her technique seemed equal to the task.
Given this concerto was written with a particular artist in mind (Rostropovich), I'm reminded of a number of opera arias that are rarely sung today because it is so difficult for even the most accomplished performer to bring them off without the unique qualities and persona of the original artist the composer had in mind. Some works transcend that, others don't. The latter may be the case here. And if you aren't familiar with some of the melodies upon which this work is based (and most of us are not), then this concerto may come off as boring beyond belief.
Among the greatest challenges of this concerto, for both cellist AND listener, is the 3rd movement Cadenza. Even if you like Shostakovich's music in general, this is very tough sledding. The performances on Saturday and Sunday may have jelled better than on Friday, when despite all the wonderful talent assembled, the work just never got off the ground for me.
That said, I hope Julie Albers returns to San Diego as soloist soon - I'd love to hear her again.
The performance of the Shostakovich 10th Symphony made the evening for me. Eri Klas seemed a great choice as conductor, and led the San Diego Symphony in a brooding yet vigorous performance that was very satisfying, especially in the dynamic contrasts and details throughout. While the 1st, 5th, and 9th symphonies are often performed, some have observed that the Shostakovich 10th is the greatest symphony of the 20th century - or at the very least, his greatest symphonic achievement. I thought this performance gave us ample opportunity to fully understand and appreciate this work.
Posted on 20 Oct 2009, 10:04 AM