Road report: Moscow Conservatory

ODEONQUARTET at the Conservatory with Tchaikovsky

Our performance Friday night at the Moscow Conservatory was truly a wonderful experience. It was an honor to play at such a venerable institution. Founded in the 1860’s, it has been the training ground for countless great Russian musicians. Tchaikovsky, who presided over the Conservatory for a time, is represented by a gorgeous statue in front of the main entrance to the big hall. We performed in the smaller hall, which seats about 400. This beautiful venue was filled to capacity with musicians and friends of the performers and composers as well as the general public and students. The acoustic is incomparable and it was a joy to make music in a space that just keeps giving back.

This was a two part program, featuring the music of our friend Pavel Karmanov and a man named Sergei Zagney. Zagney’s music is absolutely in the style of the baroque and he had a wonderful ensemble of period instrument specialists, including a small complement of singers along with the strings, sackbuts and organ.

After Pasha Karmanov heard us play our Philip Glass quartet at Dom, he agreed that it really should be performed in the bigger venue, so he substituted the Glass for his own string quartet (a piece we love, by the way, and will be playing in Seattle in October) that  we were to have  performed at the Conservatory, thereby giving the Glass the real public premiere it deserves. What a mensch. The second part of the program therefore consisted of Karmanov’s “Cambridge Music” for piano quartet and “Innerlichkeit” for two pianos, bass, string quartet and flute, both of which were performed by wonderful Moscow-based musicians, and ODEONQUARTET playing the Glass and the aforementioned “Forellenquintet” albeit without the frying fish. I never did get the story straight as to the fish’s absence.

After the performance I met a composer named Baganov who had evidently played at the Good Shepherd Center last fall. He loved the concert and the Glass and is also a minimalist composer looking to move to the US. He is deciding between New York and Seattle. Let’s hope he chooses our fair city. The world is indeed small.

I am so grateful to everyone who made this trip happen: Pasha, Artur and Gennady, and all the people who run these great  performance venues. Thanks, also, to Zach, for inviting me to post to the blog. It has been really fun!

Here is a link to a video of our Dom performance of the second part of Golijov’s “Tenebrae”:

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