Sunday November 15, 2009 / 3:00pmSymphony Orchestra of the Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory with Turan
Rear Orchestra Promo
How was your experience?
What was unclear from the original description was that this is a youth orchestra, comparable to, say, the excellent Colburn School Orchestra. The average age was about that of the shirts I have hanging in my closet. I mean these kids were young... and talented, and enthusiastic, and occassionally, a little unseasoned, but who cares. Of the two conductors, the lionshare was handled by Mangou, the older and more experienced... kind of a Kazakh Gustavo Dudamel. The Tchaikovsky was fair ... this warhorse needs more these days to make it work. The Rachmaninoff was well-directed and reasonably well played. The pianist may be a Kazakh heroine, but she hit her share of clunkers, and is definitely not world class. Interestingly, the program hit its stride in the second half with an original Kazakh tone poem showcasing a terrifically colorful Kazakh folk band whose costumes betrayed a Mongolian influence. The composition was basically movie music, but extremely exciting movie music with ample interludes for the group Turan to strut their stuff. The concluding two selections were a pretty perfunctory read through of Leonard Bernstein's delicious "Candide" overture, and an encore (Kazakh, I assume) I did not recognize. The Saban theater is an aesthetically successful remodel of that old Wilshire Boulevard barn. What they haven't improved is the dreadful acoustics which all but swallowed up every nuance of the music. Overall, though, a pleasurable experience.