It was a sumptuous night, filled with the die hard loggionisti who heaped Gergiev (and earlier Nikolaj Znaider on violin) with righteous applause. The program was Brahms Concerto in D Major, Opus 77 for violin and orchestra followed by Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony in B-flat major, Opus 100. The concerto was the final celebration at the end of a long day recognizing the fortieth anniversary of the gemellaggio between Milan and St. Petersburg (they're twin cities, like bff betw. mayors and various local politicians), with our main man of the Mariinsky Theatre. Whoopy-doo!
Although the placards in front of La Scala announced that the event was completely sold out, and the commotion of large trucks with fancy recording robots parked in the dusk seemed to corroborate, the theater was barely at half capacity, and the orchestra floor was half full.
The lights were brought up, and an announcement was made that the performance would be dedicated to the memory of (the apparently hard to pronounce) Mstislav Rostropovich, and then the narrator went on to describe the alignment of the great late cellist with La Scala. Film crews lined the front palchi, so expect this one for the archives (Rai Tre was also there for a direct, live broadcast if anyone caught it).
The Bach was transcendent. I literally was lost in the music. Your eyes THE LIGHT THE HEAT your eyes I AM COMPLETE. heh. no fo’reals it was magnificent. Gergiev was scoreless and batonless (which is significant because later for Prokofiev, he elected for both items). Znaider is the b0mb.
At the end of the Bach, Znaider made gestures to begin his bis. As the audience quieted down, he made a nice speech in English explaining that he had the honor of working with Rostropovich and that he had left behind a vacuum of lameness, and he is severely missed. He then played Cello in D Minor - Saraband. Bach, in beautiful remembrance of his hero.
Then came the Prokofiev's Fifth and the harps, piano, and full percussion filed-out from the wings, giving us obnoxious, brash, jarring, and then lovely. Gergiev is the master and was like WHOS UR MAESTRO?!
Then at the end, everyone went insane and a waterfall of candy, flowers, unicorns, and kittens rained on the orchestra from above, and the kool aid man came crashing through the back wall and was like OH YEAH! Just kidding. It’s late and OC is too tired. More tomorrow…