The Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and their conductor, Vladimir Spivakov, played Roy Thomson Hall last night. The first part of the concert was all instrumental and rather fine. I was struck by the small band’s ability to vary the weight and richness of their sound to match the mood of the music. Their treatment of Mozart’s Divertimento No.1, for example, was quite lean and sinewy. On the other hand the string sound, especially the cellos, was much richer in a very moving and idiomatic account of the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony in C minor. Things got even richer for Bruch’s Kol Nidrei where the orchestra was joined by 14 year old Israeli cellist Danielle Akta. The orchestral sound was sumptuous here but the real star was Ms. Akta. One expects virtuosity from the sort of young musician who tours with a major orchestra but one does not necessarily expect the kind of intensity that we got from Ms. Akta. She played as if she had the sort of life experience one would simply not wish on a young girl. Her instrument, an Orselli loaned by Dr. Moshe Kantor, was rather wonderful too. She can do virtuoso too as she showed in the Popper Concert Polonaise that closed a very satisfying first half.
After the interval the orchestra was joined by soprano Hibla Gerzmava in a program of mostly operatic excerpts. Ms. Gerzmava had been heavily built up in pre concert publicity as, pretty much, the next Netrebko. She isn’t. In some ways it’s a nice enough voice but there are really issues with breath control and diction. Her Casta diva had no sense of legato and a weird fluttery quality though it did give concert master Alexey Lundin a chance to show what a good player he is. She sounded better in excerpts fro Verdi’s I Masnadieri and Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur with some decent bravura singing in the latter, though an almost complete absence of consonants was a bit disturbing. I’ll not dissect the rest in detail though I thought it was a nice touch that maestro Spivakov joined her, most skilfully, on violin for her second encore; Strauss’ Morgen or rather M’or’e’. Yes, I was disappointed.
Photo credits: Vladimir Kevorkov