St Petersburg Philharmonic brings Russian luxury to Dublin

Nikolai Lugansky, St. Petersburg Philharmonic
The Irish Times

By Michael Dervan The Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, were back at the National Concert Hall last week doing what they do best: playing Russian music.

There are, simply put, a luxuriance and expansiveness to the Saint Petersburg sound that seems to have little to do with either volume or speed. There’s also a hugeness of tone, which is present by implication even when it’s not being demonstrated. And, although that might suggest something of a limitation when it comes to manoeuvrability, the opposite is the case. The playing is as pliable as you could wish for, the collective control of rubato a matter of wonder. Most of the orchestra’s key characteristics were on display in the opening numbers from Khachaturian’s ballet Spartacus. The surging climax was grander than grand in a spell-weaving account of the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia, and there was more sonic grandeur in The Victory of Spartacus.
Nikolai Lugansky was the able soloist for Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, his fullness of tone always ensuring that he could cut through the weight of the orchestra. But there are an effervescence and a wit to this music that on this occasion he didn’t quite catch. …
Temirkanov and his players have a gripping way with this music, slightly austere in expression, but in a way that’s exhilarating rather than reserved. And, like an effect of a photographer’s lens, they can keep background and foreground in focus without ever making the musical picture seem cluttered or overdetailed. This was one of those performances in which everything just seemed unquestionably right. Read more here.