Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Colorful and Polished
The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin at the Alte Oper

Violinist and conductor Misha Rachlevsky left the former Soviet Union in 1973 and founded the New American Chamber Orchestra (NACO) in 1976. After a number of international tours with the NACO Rachlevsky accepted an offer from the city of Granada in which the NACO was appointed the city's official orchestra for two years and during which time the conductor also had the task of founding an orchestra for Granada.

An offer from the Swiss recording company Claves Records led to the founding of the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in 1991, an ensemble which boasts to be made up of Moscow's best musicians. The evening [with this ensemble] in the great hall of the Alte Oper as part of the hp concert series completely eliminated any doubts with regard to this statement. The performance of Edward Elgar's Serenade for String Orchestra in E Minor, Op. 20, was characterized by compact, transparent sonorities, effortlessly performed; the Larghetto was deliciously expressive throughout. Together with French harp soloist Xavier de Maistre the orchestra demonstrated itself to be an excellent accompanying ensemble, first with George Friedrich Handel's Concerto, Op.6/4, and then with a rarely performed concerto by the great French harpist Henriette Reine (1875-1956). Maistre's brilliant playing was marked by an enormous palette of colors and perfectly polished sonorities - he is a true "master" of his instrument.

Tchaikovsky's string sextet in D minor, "Souvenir de Florence", Op. 70, was filled with pulsing life, agility, verve and great

temperament; the expansive "Adagio cantabile e con moto" was characterized by a resonant, malleable sonority. The brilliant performance of this work confirmed beyond a doubt that the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin is a truly world-class ensemble made up exclusively of virtuosos. Misha Rachlevsky's charismatic conducting style presented the audience an unforgettable evening; the ecstatic audience in turn solicited five encores from the orchestra.

Joachim Wormsbaecher (Translation: Mark Manion)