Performer: Yuri Simonov

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A not so brief encounter with the Moscow Phil

An earthy – if slow – Pictures at an Exhibition from Yuri Simonov and the Moscow Philharmonic in Basingstoke is like a musical step back in time. 

Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich with an authentic Russian accent from the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra

Though impressively performed by the Moscow players, conductor Yuri Simonov's interpretative choices did not always convince in Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.

Moscow Philharmonic and Yuri Simonov: Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov in Manchester

The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra enjoyed an evening of youthful exuberance in the Bridgewater Hall with an all-Russian programme, conducted with grace and refinement by Yuri Simonov.

Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain explicitly paints what the composer called “Spirits of darkness...and the Black Mass” in a progressively wild orgy before the bells of dawn break the scene. Simonov opted for a generally slow but quite variable tempo through the majority of the piece, in contrast to the common tendency to push for a firmly brisk pace in many readings. This was an interesting adjustment, removing any risk of seeming formulaic with such a popular piece, but added little to the sense of untamed nature. It did make some of the themes suggest folk music, particularly in the oboe/bassoon duet passages. The orchestral playing was as passionate as could be expected: plenty of brassy bite and roars from the percussion section. The dawn passage gave the string section its first opportunity of the evening to display its wonderful sound; rich and full in tone, filling the large hall without straining.