Last night we heard the Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev. As we arrived at Hayes Hall in Naples, we met a group of protestors on the sidewalk. I assumed they were Ukrainians protesting Gergiev, who is in tight with Putin. They should have been the local audiologists’ association.
The Russians go in for big, big sounds. The orchestra was big and chose to make the most of it. Following Napoleon’s strategy in dealing with Russians, I retreated to the last row.
Denis Matsuev played the rarely heard Piano Concerto No. 2. Having heard it, I realized why it was rarely heard. When Tchaikovsky wrote his Piano Concerto No 1, the pianist insisted on all sorts of changes, and the result was a success. Tchaikovsky got his own way with the Concerto No. 2, and the result was not happy. It was a hodge-podge. But Matsuev dazzled with his playing, especially the last movement with its runs of fast 16th notes, con fuoco.
His playing reminded me of the passage from P. G. Woodhouse. All was not well between Muriel and Sacheverell.
Muriel was playing the piano when Sacheverell came into the drawing-room some forty minutes after the conclusion of the dinner. She was interpreting a work by one of those Russian composers who seem to have been provided by Nature especially with a view to soothing the nervous systems of young girls who are not feeling quite themselves. It was a piece from which the best results are obtained by hauling off and delivering a series of overhand swings which make the instrument wobble like the engine-room of a liner; and Muriel, who was a fine, sturdy girl, was putting a lot of beef into it.