The best of Russia meets Oxford’s top amateur orchestra – add in a divine virtuoso violinist, and the result is stratospheric!
It was a brave all-Russian programme in today’s cancel culture – Khachaturian’s Adagio from “Spartacus”, followed by his fiendishly challenging violin concerto, delivered with exquisite grace and fire by Jennifer Pike (who had won Young Musician of the Year at the age of twelve), finishing with Tchaikovsky’s profound Symphony no. 5 after the interval.
There is a bitter irony here, in the light of the current war on Ukraine – this symphony was used a morale-booster during World War II, when the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra famously played it from their besieged city. The performance was broadcast live to London, while bombs were dropping.
We were on the edge of our seats from the moment that Jennifer Pike appeared – and not just because of the infamous Sheldonian Theatre seating – but because we were being swept along by the passion and energy of the soloist. The orchestra raised its game to meet this virtuoso, especially the wind and brass section, the percussionists and harpist, conducted by Robert Weaver, who was always watchful and elegant.
It was just the evening for a cold January night: music full of Russian fire, passion, pathos, with a dash of melancholy – beautifully performed, to a full and enthusiastic house.
OxInABox reviews our Sheldonian Concert