The Tchaikovsky St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra seems to have changed its name again. When New York Times reporter Daniel J. Wakin wrote about the orchestra’s murky and questionable provenance almost a year ago, it was calling itself the Tchaikovsky St. Petersburg State Orchestra. But Roman Leontiev is still its conductor, and its blurb in the program is the same as the one on the “State” orchestra Web site. There may be questions about whether this is an established group and whether it really has a home in St. Petersburg, but its performance at the George Mason University Center for the Arts on Saturday proved it to be a decent mid-level orchestra.
The program was one series of colorful splashes after another, a good choice for a group whose strengths lie more in vivid sonorities than in precision. The Ravel “Daphnis et Chloe” Suite No. 2 and the Rimsky-Korsakov “Scheherazade” seemed content to stay safely within a rather narrow dynamic band.
Leontiev never mustered the energy to sustain long-driven crescendos, and attacks and pizzicatos were all over the place. But some fine solo work, particularly from the flute, oboe and violin first chairs, wove an atmosphere about the music of magic and seduction.
Alexandre Pirojenko was an exceptionally assured and incisive soloist in the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1. With a sense of momentum that never felt rushed or out of balance, he offered an articulate and musical reading of a piece that is often a showcase for mere speed and power. His Granados encore showed the softer, more introspective side of his artistry.
Reinthaler is a freelance writer.