Symphony Orchestra of Kurmangazy in Concert at The Kennedy Center
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The last date listed for Symphony Orchestra of Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory was Friday November 20, 2009 / 8:00pm.
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I didn't know quite what to expect from this concert, but it was a great delight and highly enjoyable. The musicians are young, and play with great enthusiasm, and their conductors are also young and enthusiastic. The Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet was done very well, and the Rachmaninov 2nd Piano Concerto was also well-played, although the pianist did not milk the music for all its emotion in my opinion. The second half featured a folk-music ensemble of 5 playing on traditional Kazakh instruments, such as lute-like instruments, drums of various sorts, a type of zither, a beautiful-sounding vertical flute, jaw's harps,and a mournful bowed string instrument that was very old. Only having formed the ensemble in 2008, the performers were very gifted and exhibited an appealing showmanship, aided by their colorful costumes. I knew nothing about authenticity or otherwise, but judged it a very enjoyable chance to hear traditional Kazakh folk songs. The highlight for me was a contemporary composition by the composer Aktoty Raimkulova----she is a dean at the Kurmangazy Kazakh national Conservatory, but apparently has written numerous compositions that have been performed in Europe at least. This symphonic poem combined the classical orchestra with the folk ensemble in fascinating ways---the orchestra seemed to be "learning" from the folk ensemble in the sense of developing very colorful and unusual sonorities, pitch-bending of the clarinet solo, evocative marimba-type percussion. There was a beautiful episodic flow to the music, with the orchestra handing-off the music to the smaller group in very interesting ways, sometimes descending to very quiet passages where the haunting sound of the stringed folk instrument could be heard like the winds across the steppes, very lonely. The ending of the piece featured the dramatic appearance of a very special instrument---I won't spoil the surprise. It would be a shame if this piece is not recorded and made available on CD. The finale was Bernstein's Candide Overture, and the orchestra seemed to have warmed up even more in the 2nd half, delivering an exciting, sparkling, clean, effervescent performance of this lovely music. Both conductors were excellent at drawing forth the maximum from their musicians, and had wonderful podium presence. The encore was an exciting piece from that part of the world, but one I was unfamiliar with. I left with a very happy feeling.
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I did not know what to expect from the Khazhkstan orchestra, but this far exceeded and surpassed all my expectations. This professional, extremely talented orchestra amazed me with their beautiful, perfected orchestrated music. The group Turan was...continued
Christophe Mangou, conductor
Kanat Omarov, conductor
Jania Aubakirova, piano
Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Traditional – Two compositions: “Baksy” and “Kerogly”
Performed by the ethnographical folklore ensemble Turan
Raimkulova – Symphonic Poem “Jamilya”, in memory of Chinghiz Aitmatov
Bernstein – Overture to Candide
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