The gem of the new Russia, the Russian National Orchestra, played Lincoln Saturday night to the ecstasy of an absolutely full house at the Lied Center.
The Shostakovich “Festival Overture,” ballet music to Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and guest pianist Yuja Wang with the Tchaikovsky “Piano Concerto No. 2” played to more than 2,100 ticketholders.
Conductor Mikhail Pletnev set a stately tempo for the “Festival Overture,” as boisterous as the Bolshevik Revolution it commemorated. Winds produced clear, floating runs as the strings took off on pizzicato notes that sounded spectacular.
Then it was Wang’s turn for Tchaikovsky Piano, not the famous “No. 1” but the second concerto, which has been kept in the wings due to the Concerto No. 1’s immense popularity.
Wang was nothing short of amazing. Her command of the keyboard is outstanding, and her communication with Pletnev and the orchestra was absolute, important because the orchestra shares almost equal time with the piano.
Cadenzas and shorter challenging piano passages dot the landscape of this Concerto. The second movement is almost a triple concerto as violin and cello carry many of the passages. Camaraderie of the solo players, pianist and orchestra came into full, glorious view.
But it was the furious fast runs and notes in third movement that sealed the audience love story with Wang. Patrons stood, cheered and whistled. Wang responded with an encore, a rendition of “Carmen” themes arranged by the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
The “Firebird” followed intermission. Complexity in textures was a minor concern for this orchestra, as the 11 movements weaved pictures of the ballet’s magical setting. Again the ensemble exhibited perfection in dynamics, intensity and moods to create a spellbinding “Firebird” worthy of high praise.
The Lied Center crowd offered that praise. Sustained applause and cheers led Pletnev and his ensemble to a jim-dandy encore, the short “Masquerade” showpiece of Aram Khachaturian.