By Narendra Kusnur
The brainchild and bravado of Khushroo N. Suntook, chairman of the National Centre For The Performing Arts, the spring and autumn seasons of the Symphony Orchestra Of India (SOI) have always attracted a packed venue. Okay, many musicians in the orchestra happen to be foreigners but what’s always welcome is the programming and choice of conductors.
The highlight this last season, which concluded on September 16, was famed Russian conductor Alexander Lazarev, whose repertoire included compositions by Richard Wagner, Modest Muggorsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. But what stood out was Ernest Bloch’s Violin Concerto, where Nurit Stark was simply amazing.
Marat Bisangilev, who has been at the helm of SOI since its inception, conducted Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, featuring soloist Sevak Avanesyan, and Sergei Profokiev’s Fifth Symphony.
Sunday’s event conducted by SOI associate music director Zane Dalal. Imagine listening to Mozart, Igor Stravisky and Sergei Rachmaninoff on a single evening.
Stravinsky, with his avant garde style, always attracted controversy in his hey day. His premiere of ‘The Rite Of Spring’ in Paris in 1913 led to a furore as people booed him and walked out. Dalal chose a suite from ‘The Firebird’, another well-known Stravinsky creation.
Mozart is always enjoyable across generations. A pure genius who died at 35 but left an everlasting impact. The choice here was the overture to ‘The Abduction From The Seraglio’. Magic.
And there was Rachmaninoff’s ‘Piano Concerto No 3’. The Russian composer was best known for his piano concertos, the second and third being most admired. The first was a disaster, and the fourth had a lukewarm response.
Others who have written great piano concertos are Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin. But Rachmaninoff’s third is always special and soloist Alexei Volodin played marvellously.
As a conductor, Dalal is simply amazing. It may not be fair to compare him with the legendary Zubin Mehta, but the kind of work he and Bisangilev have been doing in India deserves an applause. Bravo!
Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon (okay, doesn’t fit, but you get the drift), Naren, NK, Kusnur, Narender, Kaansen, Jahanpanna… however else many call him, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier. If ever there is an Ustad given for music writing, NK, would be among the first to receive one. Narendra Kusnur writes weekly on Xyngr. Don’t ask us when.