November 13, 2000

Kremlin's show nearly perfect

To save you busy readers a lot of time, I'll tell you right up front that writing this review of the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was one of the most difficult I have had to do in a while.

Why? Because its performance in Charleston Saturday night was very nearly perfect.

In town as the guest of the Charleston Chamber Music Society, the orchestra was formed in 1991 by music director and conductor Misha Rachlevsky.

He chose the youngest and the finest, and he brought his extensive skills as a conductor and arranger to the ensemble. The product is like nothing else you have ever heard.

Even though the three works performed were clearly well-rehearsed, much-played repertoire pieces, at no time was there ever an inkling of unfailing passion and focus on the music.

It was the best of both worlds - intimate knowledge of the mechanics of the music played as though it was the first religious experience that the conductor and players had ever had.

And the most amazing observation to my aging sensitive self was the loving relationship that Rachlevsky, the kind but firm father, had with these babies. My seatmate opined that one of the violin players looked for the entire world like a rosy-cheeked Harry Potter.

Young they may have been, but father knew best and demanded a performance of Arnold Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night" of them that scared the living daylights out of you with its implications of ultimate despair.

Then every literary allusion you have ever encountered about the fiery Russian soul came alive in a scintillating performance of Tchaikovsky's "Souvenir de Florence." Unbelievable!

Just for kicks they whizzed through Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" as an encore. Even though it was faster than the speed of light, its lightness made you feel that it was hovering just over your head.

From an acoustical standpoint, we heard and felt every note and subtle nuance, even though we had less-than-perfect seats for this performance in Christ Church United Methodist's wide open spaces.

You just had to be there to believe it.

RICK JUSTICE, Music Critic