Seen and Heard International / 17.09.2018. (link)

Tatarstan National Symphony at ‘Stars of Baikal’ Music Festival.

The city of Irkutsk has been hosting the ‘Stars on Baikal’ for thirteen years now and with every passing year, more international guests are appearing in the Eastern Siberia city. The idea was the concept of Denis Matsuev who was born and educated here, and he has managed to attain major sponsorship from not only local government, but several companies from the energy sector. The Festival comprises both classical and jazz concerts, chamber and orchestral, and also take place in the town of Bratsk on the northern edge of the Baikal Lake... The venue for the Festival is the city’s Zagursky music theatre which has hosted light opera, ballet and other shows since 1941, has a capacity of over 1000 people and an agreeable acoustic...

In this, the first of two concerts by Sladkovsky’s Tatarstan musicians at this Irkutsk festival, we heard some of Russia’s brightest young talents in concert with this fine orchestra from Kazan. I had already was very impressed by the brilliant musicality of the sixteen year old Malofeev after his stunning performance of the Prokofiev Third Concerto two months ago in Provence, and here he tackled another popular yet difficult late romantic piece. I was not familiar with the Latvian violinist Balanas, nor with the flautist Kornishina, but they certainly reveal how wealthy is the current standards of Russian music teaching.

It was a couple of months ago that I first became familiar with the genius of Alexander Malofeev, if he astonished me with his Prokofiev Third Concerto in France, here he became the second performer of the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini in four days for me having heard it played by Trifonov in Moscow on Saturday afternoon (review click here). The latter was a once in a lifetime experience, and it would have been strange to expect anything like it, but in Malofeev, we truly have a future great pianist. Throughout he displayed wonderful fluency in tackling the difficult variations, each as the difficult as the other but each demanding artistry and poetry. The famous variations were brilliantly and sensitively performed, with Sladkovsky’s musicians providing sensitive backing to the young pianist. At the close, Malofeev gave an encore – the toccata from Prokofiev’s Seventh Piano Sonata, itself a tour de force!

Gregor Tassie.