"It's quite clear there is a genuine warming up between Soviets and Americans -- our presence is a sign of that," says violinist Vladimir Spivakov, conductor of the Moscow Virtuosi.
The ensemble, with principal soloists pianist Vladimir Krainev, oboist Alexei Utkin and trumpeter Stephen Burns, makes its Washington debut today at the Kennedy Center.
To fill a void in Moscow's chamber music scene, Spivakov selected 26 soloists from the principal chairs of the major Soviet orchestras and prize winners of major international competitions. Today, the group is regarded as a national treasure and is ranked among the world's preeminent chamber ensembles.
The American debut tour, planned for 1980 but delayed because of deteriorating U.S.-Soviet relations, is an example of the greater freedom under glasnost.
"We ... travel wherever in the world we want to," says Spivakov. "We have full permission to perform whatever repertoire we desire. Before it was extremely difficult to perform avant-garde works, even of Soviet composers."
Joining the Moscow Virtuosi will be American trumpeter Stephen Burns.
pivakov had met Burns at the Kuchmo Festival in Finland, and they decided "it would be a very good example of a collaboration between an American and a Soviet," says Spivakov. "It would be a very good thing if there could be the same quickness and immediacy of response among people in general that there is among all artists. Then everything would go a lot better internationally."
Today's performance at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall begins at 3.
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