by Paula Citron.
The Kirov Orchestra under the great Valery Gergiev is best known as a ballet/opera ensemble. Not surprisingly, the orchestra’s Toronto concert included the complete versions of two famous Stravinsky ballets. The program opened with 1910’s The Firebird and ended with 1913’s The Rite of Spring. It was a concert that had the packed house cheering.
The orchestra is made up of young players who infused Stravinsky with an abundance of energy and Gergiev practically danced his way through his detailed conducting. His readings were unusual. For starters, the placement of his players had the violas down front along with the harps, and the celli behind. The percussion was strung out across the back. This arrangement allowed for maximum impact of sound.
Gergiev’s Firebird was slow and dreamy, but his Rite of Spring was relentless with tension, so much so that his middle was more exciting than the end. Gergiev’s interpretations made you take notice.
From Roy Thomson Hall, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for The New CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.