''White Lilac'' blossoms with ''The Rite of Spring''

The festival named after Sergei Rachmaninoff opens in Kazan

''White Lilac'' blossoms with ''The Rite of Spring'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The first concert of the international festival named after Sergei Rachmaninoff White Lilac was held in the Saydashev State Great Concert Hall on 27 May. The festival has taken place for the seventh time, it was established by the artistic director and principal conductor of the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra Alexander Sladkovsky.

Two concerts

Needless to say that the spring festival loved by the audience has begun and will be held with full house. On the approaches to the concert hall there was a scent of lilacs — many spectators brought with themselves bouquets of these mysterious ''Vrubel's'' flowers, and they reminded about the amazing era of Silver Age. Akhmatova's lines ''Where I saw Persian lilac, swallows, and a wood house?'' were running through my head.

For those who have no clue, I will explain — the name ''White Lilac'' the festival received in honour of the birthday of Sergei Rachmaninoff. By the way, the stage was adorned with bouquets of white lilac — from musicians to the great composer.

The stage was adorned with bouquets of white lilac — from musicians to the great composer

The first part was difficult and dangerous. As like Artistic Director of the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra Alexander Sladkovsky decided to start the festival and his first concert with complex Rachmaninov's paintings. The first part of the White Lilac this year included two concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff — First and Second. In the first concerto, the soloist was the young Ivan Bessonov, in the second — George Harliono.

First concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff for piano and orchestra, for which the composer received a lot of criticism and accusations of irregularities and a kind of imitation (in what, to be honest, one can often blame young authors), nevertheless, is still is a hymn to youth, awakening hopes, and a new world, that meets a young man.

The soloist in Rachmaninoff's First concerto was young Ivan Bessonov, the winner of many awards of the first level in youth contests. Bessonov, of course, is a very skilled piano player, however, yet because of his age he lacks artistic experience and emotion. However, the virtuoso technique of the pianist redeems these gaps, which in a few years will not be noticeable.

As for the Second concerto, here the soloist was a young pianist from England, George Harliono, who, as well as his Russian colleague, in his sixteen managed to win first place in many prestigious youth competitions.

The soloist in the First concerto was young Ivan Bessonov, the winner of many awards of the first level in youth contests

Rachmaninoff's Second concerto is, perhaps, one of the most popular and frequently performed works. With it, the composer entered the new age, he was full of hopes and plans, he managed to capture the sentiments that prevailed in the Russian society. Beautiful, expressive Second concerto was wonderfully felt by the pianist.

However, the real heroes of the evening were not soloists but the conductor. It is very difficult to compete with Alexander Sladkovsky in emotion. Apparently, for any soloist, Sladkovsky with his strongly pronounced romantic nature and artistry will be a disadvantageous background.

The conductor has a truly golden quality — he comes out on stage very focused, he can't afford a minute to lose, the maestro from the first seconds on stage, before the first wave of his wand — he is already in the role, in the element of music, that he is now going to conduct.

And the led by him orchestra, well played, thoroughbred, seem to obey even to a sweep of his eyelashes. The romantic music of Rachmaninoff was understood by the conductor as well as the orchestra with some jubilation, with delight. ''All delight, all spring,'' Ibsen wrote in one of the comments to The Master Builder. And this ''delight and spring'', I guess, one can borrow to characterise the latest work of the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra and the conductor.

Arrival of spring

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini opened the second part of the concert. The soloist was a young winner of many competitions Sandro Nebieridze from Georgia. Sandro's virtuosity, his technicality is combined with a fine reading of the author. Perhaps, out of all three performed soloists it was his ''dialogue'' with Alexander Sladkovsky that was the most exquisitely built. Conductor and pianist, like two great actors in a drama theatre, ''gave cues'' to each other.

Yesterday, I think, this was no coincidence that Maestro Sladkovsky invited as soloists only young musicians. Without a fear to mistake we can say that all three of them will have a bright future. Winnings in major international competitions await them and, of course, the audience will remember that they heard these musicians in their beginning when they were very carefully patronized by our orchestra and the conductor. By the way, young pianists were working without discounts for age.

The finale of the first festival concert was bright. The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, when the orchestra and the conductor could show the temperament and sophistication. ''Lightness and fluidity'' are probably key words that could describe the work of the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra.

The festival has just begun, and prepares us many wonderful evenings.

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  • Oleg Tikhonov
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By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov. Video: Kamil Ismagilov