WASHINGTON, December 25 (Itar-Tass) -- A series of concert given here by the Urals Philharmonic Orchestra from the Russian city of Yekaterinburg was wound up here Saturday at a triumphant note.
A roaring ovation at the end of the concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts continued until the moment the orchestra’s conductor, Dmitry Liss, intervened personally to interrupt them by wishing a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to the audiences.
His American counterpart, conductor Norman Scribner of the Choral Arts Society, told Itar-Tass after the concert this was probably the best performance at the Kennedy Center over the past five years.
As for the orchestra’s rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Scribner called it a hallmark one.
Judging by the reaction of the audiences, they also had a special liking, apart from Scheherazade, for the two pieces by Tchaikovsky – ‘The Mountebanks’ Dance’ and the waltz from the opera ‘Eugene Onegin’.
Dmitry Liss, who is known for his style of conducting without the baton, came to Washington only the day before and thus appeared on the conductor’s stand virtually right away from the airport. He seemed to be jigging up and down in the process of conducting and this certainly relayed his energies to the hall.
His expressive and plastic manner of conducting probably prompted Scribner to say later that every finger on Liss’s hands looks as if it were programmed to give commands to concrete instruments.
Not only the audiences but the Choral Arts Chorus, too, applauded to him enthusiastically, and singer Mary Hider, who is a fluent speaker of Russia and who managed to teach her fellow-singers to pronounce Russian words amazingly well, told Itar-Tass that they had thanked the orchestra by singing ‘Many Years!’ to it before the start of the performance.
Another singer, whom Itar-Tass spoke to briefly during the break, said the chorus found it to be a great honor to perform together with the Urals Philharmonic and the Mariinsky /Kirov/ Theater mezzo soprano Irina Shishkova.
Incidentally, the media coverage of the ‘Holiday Treasures from Russia’ concerts suggests that the arts analysts at the printed press liked Shishkova’s presentation, too.
Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, who was the initiator of inviting the Urals Philharmonic to Washington, received congratulations alongside the performers, although he did his best to avoid drawing extensive attention to himself.
He said the thing he liked the most was the description of the performances as a “Russian Christmas musical gift to America”.
This was really one of the leitmotifs of media reporting on the orchestra’s concerts.
The program presented Saturday consisted of the works by Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov, Grechaninov, Bach, Handel, and Schubert, as well as folksongs.
Standing in the same category was ‘The Christmas Oratory’ by the contemporary Russian cleric and composer, Metropolitan Hillarion. The orchestra played fragments from it under the baton of guest conductor Enkhbaatar Baatarzhyvan.
Spokespeople for the Urals Philharmonic said the orchestra has had many concert tours across Europe but this was its first appearance in the U.S., precisely for the purpose of showcasing itself.
Scribner said he is confident new invitations to the U.S. will come soon enough, as he believes the news about the triumph in the Kennedy Center will spread across America’s professional quarters fast.
He gave the assurances he himself would play the role of a producer for his new Russian friends.