Review: Russian Marvels by Queensland Symphony Orchestra, QPAC

Giancarlo Guerrero
ArtsHub Australia

Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Russian Marvels concert at QPAC was an outstanding evening performance with guest Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero (Director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra) and distinctive pianist Stephen Hough.

Highlighting the Maestro composers Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich in a deeply riveting sequence of works that takes you on a journey into the Russian landscapes of beauty, humanity and social and political insights.

The piece of Peter IIyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) Marche Slave, Op.31 is a touching ode to Pan-Slavic soldiers who went to war against Turkey in 1876. The music danced along gently offering an insight to the compassion and heart the composer had for his fellow countrymen. Moving through to sudden strong crescendos that were exhilarating, some reminiscent of canons or gunshots that were powerful militarised epitaphs. The piece ended with thunderous applause from the audience.

Sergei Rachmaninov’s (1873-1943) Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op, 43 was soft and spatial at times, quick and decisive in others with expanded highlights caressing the listener. Tender entrancing piano highlights from Stephen Hough (CBE) were magical and somewhat whimsical then moving to a quiet surrender not unlike a serenade. The music climbs to a rich tapestry of sound, and of powerful contrasting piano. A sense of struggle, victory and colourful rhythms engaged the audience. This is where Hough exhibited his masterful playing. There was a triumphant end, to which members of the audience shouted ‘Bravo!’ offering an invigorating standing ovation. To our delight Hough returned to the stage and performed a short solo of ‘Under the Moscow Night’, an adaption from a Russian folk song.
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