Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

1st August- Russian Greats- ASO, Vasily Petrenko and Simon Trpčeski


Orchestra: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

Piano: Simon Trpčeski

Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

Concert Programme booklet and ticket. I wonder what Vasily Petrenko thinks of this look!

Concert Programme booklet and ticket. I wonder what Vasily Petrenko thinks of this look!

Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol

Tchaikovsky: Piano concerto No. 1

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.1

Having decided to book tickets to spend Christmas 2014 in Adelaide with friends, the next thing I knew was that Vasily Petrenko and Simon Trpčeski were embarking on a New Zealand and Australia tour in the summer (well, the Southern Hemisphere winter). Being a big fan of these wonderful musicians, I wondered if I would be able to fit in a trip down under to see them performing in yet another city. (This would be the fourth city I have seen them perform in!) Of course, I managed to fit them in my summer schedule – my priorities are obviously skewed for this favourable outcome!

Arriving at Festival Theatre, I wondered where my seat was as I thought it was in the fifth row, but my seat was in row EE. Row EE turned out to be the very first row and I was seated to the left, so I would be able to have a very good view of the keyboard.

The concert started with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, a piece that I thought I was not so familiar with. It was easy to become entranced by the Spanish melodies. The music continued with brilliant moments for brass, solo violin and woodwind finally coming to celebratory climax.

Trpčeski and Petrenko teamed up for Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 which I had last heard them perform together with Liverpool Philharmonic at the White Nights concert before they recorded it together. There were quite a few moments as I watched soloist and conductor and thought, ‘This would make a great photo’ as Petrenko conducted and leant towards Trpčeski. The ‘Dream Team’ worked together seamlessly. It was wonderful to listen to the concerto with its familiar piano melody; familiarity did not breed contempt in this case. Watching Trpčeski’s hands on the piano sends my brain conflicting messages. When fingers move so swiftly, they seem like a blur but what you can hear in the music is heartfelt and precise. Where the melodies are more jovial, you definitely get a sense of playfulness in the performance. Making music so easy to connect to emotionally seems to be a Trpčeski signature. As usual, in some of the orchestral parts, Trpčeski took time to look into the audience, something I think he actively reminds himself of and doesn’t take for granted. Who can blame him? When I looked behind me later, I saw that the theatre was packed with around 2000 people. It’s wonderful to see artists obviously enjoy their performance and collaboration with the orchestra. Trpčeski at times seemed to sit back to take in the sound of the orchestra and couldn’t resist moving to the music. Trpčeski was joined by the principal cellist and concertmaster for the encore.

Spotify: Vasily Petrenko, Simon Trpčeski, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra: Tchaikovsky piano concertos 1 & 2 

I’ll not write much about Rachmaninov Symphony No.1 as I just saw Petrenko conduct this in Liverpool at the White Nights concert. I did think he seemed to conduct with less sweeping movements compared to in Liverpool – but I may put this down to a change in my perspective from a very different seat! I also guess that naturally a conductor will differentiate with orchestras just as a teacher does with their classes.

Spotify: Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra : Rachmaninov Symphony No.1

Adelaide Festival Centre which houses Festival Theatre. To the right, you can see Adelaide Oval behind which is on the other side of River Torrens, where cricket and Australian Rules Football is played.

Adelaide Festival Centre which houses Festival Theatre. To the right, you can see Adelaide Oval behind which is on the other side of River Torrens, where cricket and Australian Rules Football is played.

I did take the opportunity to wait around by the artist’s entrance at the back of the building to see if I could say ‘Hello!’ to Trpčeski and Petrenko. I had nearly given up, when they finally appeared and I was greeted with a big hug from Simon and was introduced to his wife and (very cute) daughter. Vasily asked if I would see them perform in Melbourne, which I confessed had been my original plan, but due to holiday with friends and returning to work, was not to be. It was very nice of him to try to convince me to change my travel plans! I really love seeing these two musicians perform, separately and even better, together. I am not sure when I’ll see them next. I really should have convinced them to come to Hong Kong!


2 thoughts on “1st August- Russian Greats- ASO, Vasily Petrenko and Simon Trpčeski

  1. I also attended this wonderful concert with two of my (adult) children. My son had just celebrated his 18th birthday and this was a gift from me to him. Having just noticed your blog I was surprised to see you sat in the front row – we also sat there in the first three seats adjacent to the left aisle. We must have been neighbours! Having such an intimate view of the amazing Vasily Petrenko is an experience I will never forget. His body language is so fluid & those hand movements have the grace & beauty of a dancer. And what connection between him and Simon Trpceski – subtle and powerful. I’m very thankful for YouTube so I can get a dose of Vasily whenever I want. And thank you also for your review of this concert in Adelaide.


  2. Thanks for your comment, Liz! I am trying (and mostly failing!) to record concerts that I go to on here. I probably go to more concerts than I can keep up with my blog, partly with how much I’d like to write! Yes – we must have been neighbours! I had forgotten until I turned up that I had booked a front row seat! Glad you enjoyed Vasily and Simon – in Liverpool, they are known as ‘The Dream Team’ and they perform at least once a season with Liverpool Philharmonic. I’m glad Vasily will make his debut in Hong Kong (where I live) with the Oslo Philharmonic in March 2017. I’ve seen plenty of conductors, but Vasily – due to his style, humour (I’ve seen him conduct a couple of pieces in an amusing manner- to entertain the Liverpool audience – it was the more relaxed summer concert.) and the obvious outcome of his work with orchestras is my favourite. I hope you have enjoyed more concerts in Adelaide. I’ve been there a couple of times as I have a few really good friends (and a couple of former students) there! I’ll definitely be planning return visits to your lovely city!


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