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Krylov, Petrenko, LPO, Royal Festival Hall

Geoff Brown, February 28, 2018

“Sergej Krylov transfixed the house, fiddling with the kind of effortless lyricism and mercurial tones that distinguish the best violinists”

Considering the temperature outside — it felt like minus 25C — this London Philharmonic Orchestra concert needed something other than Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite to start us off and banish that icicle feeling. With Vasily Petrenko at the helm and some pungent phrasings from the brass, it certainly sounded bouncy enough; light as a feather too. Yet tidy instrumentation and the 18th-century poise lingering inside Stravinsky’s reworkings of Pergolesi (or composers thereabouts) couldn’t help but make for a rather cool experience.

Everything changed with the arrival of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and its soloist, Sergej Krylov. From his first note he transfixed the house, fiddling with the kind of effortless lyricism, liquid flow and mercurial tones that distinguish the best violinists playing at their best. This concerto may be prolix and garrulous, but with Krylov burning through its themes and skittering at impossible speed through the finale’s double-stopped parade, even this Tchaikovsky sceptic was won over.

I was most impressed by Krylov’s multiple colours and dynamic shifts, which were all blended into long lines of singing rapture stretching into the horizon. Petrenko and the orchestra added wonders of their own with darkly glowing textures and exquisitely sonorous woodwind playing at the start of the second movement. Krylov’s encore of Paganini’s 24th Caprice was the cherry on the cake.

For all the sultry splendour of Ravel’s ballet Daphnis and Chloe — presented here in its streamlined form as two concert suites — the second half couldn’t help seem a slight disappointment after Tchaikovsky’s furnace. Yet there was still much to enjoy, from Juliette Bausor’s limpid flute and the pellucid beauty of two rippling harps to the beckoning heat of the morning sunrise and the final bacchanale. Outside the Festival Hall, unfortunately, the temperature hadn’t changed.



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Krylov, Petrenko, LPO, Royal Festival Hall

David Truslove, March 2, 2018

“World-beating musicianship from Sergej Krylov”

“…what made the evening so special was the inspirational presence of Vasily Petrenko and the astonishing playing of Sergej Krylov.”

“…iron and sweetness in his tone and everything else in between.”

As part of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s ongoing exploration of the life and works of Igor Stravinsky this latest concert juxtaposed Tchaikovsky’s sunlit Violin Concerto with two works associated with the Ballets Russes, now heard more often in their concert versions. By any standards this was an attractive programme, but what made the evening so special was the inspirational presence of Vasily Petrenko (Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) and the astonishing playing of Sergej Krylov.

The rapport between these two Russians was evident throughout Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, given a well-paced account that just glowed from start to finish. One could only marvel at the freshness and spontaneity of Krylov’s playing – there was iron and sweetness in his tone and everything else in between. Technique and intonation were faultless, runs were immaculately executed and his capacity to transform a simple phrase into gold with such subtlety of dynamic shading and adjustment of colour was fabulous. Under Krylov, Tchaikovsky’s opening movement traversed wistful dreaminess to aristocratic grandeur and his tonal control was beyond reproach. So enthralled was I by his virtuosity I barely noticed the orchestral support. That said, Petrenko’s tempi were just right and climaxes were perfectly shaped – especially when urging the players forward just before the cadenza.

Azure skies of the affecting Canzonetta were given further lustre by Timothy Lines’ eloquent clarinet and Krylov who seemed to pour his heart and soul into every bar, his rapt attention bringing out every nuance of tone that was mesmerising. The Finale: Allegro vivacissimo was exactly that – an adrenalin-fuelled tempo that brought seat-of-the-pants exhilaration and boundless joy. One could almost sense unrestrained delight from Krylov as his bow-wielding constantly refuted the claim by the work’s dedicatee Leopold Auer that it was “unplayable”. At thirty-four minutes this performance would also have dismissed Edward Hanslick’s assertion that the work was “long and pretentious”. Further virtuosity followed in the shape of Paganini’s Caprice no. 24 in A minor.

The evening opened with Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, his first major brush with Baroque idioms, and a bewildering volte face that contemporary audiences in 1920 must have found disorienting after his pre-war Russian ballets. From the start, and with a quintet of solo strings surrounding the podium, this was an account that fully underlined Stravinsky’s chamber sonorities, beautifully rendered by solo and tutti instrumental exchanges in the opening Sinfonia. The Serenata drew mellifluous playing from Ian Hardwick’s oboe and pairs of horns added warmth of line in the Scherzino. Petrenko’s Tarentella had a wonderful lightness of touch, yet rhythmically taut, and the Toccata exuded brilliance from brass and woodwind. The Gavotta too brought many felicitous details as did the Vivo with its distinctive and playful solos from double bass and fruity trombone – Stravinsky’s tongue here firmly in his cheek. Petrenko coaxed picture book vividness from the LPO, all contributing to the work’s witty cocktail of ideas with superb precision.

Following the interval, this ballet-themed concert continued with Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (Suite 1 and 2). With the stage now swamped with players, including nine percussionists, thoughts drifted back to the change in Stravinsky’s style and orchestral use. But for Ravel’s languor and sumptuous harmonies his music could have been mistaken for Stravinsky’s Firebird. But with Petrenko’s firm control there was no possibility of detail      becoming submerged under instrumental weight. The whole felt as lean and fluid as Pulcinella had been earlier, eight double basses now providing a firm but not unwieldy foundation. Everything gelled from the finely opening Nocturne via the gloriously controlled Lever du jour through to the closing bacchanale of the Danse Générale. This was a meticulously prepared account, with balance, pace and brilliance of articulation combining to stunning effect.


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Krylov, Søndergård, LPO, Royal Festival Hall

Geoff DIggines, October 11, 2016

“Sergej Krylov is clearly one of the most distinguished violinists playing today.”

“I can’t imagine Menuhin or any other violinist dead or alive surpassing Krylov.”

Panufnik composed his Violin Concerto in 1971 for the veteran violinist Yehudi Menuhin who had requested the concerto. It was composed to be premiered by Menuhin with his Menuhin Festival Orchestra, and Menuhin performed the concerto in 1972 at the City of London Festival with the composer conducting. The opening ‘Rubato’ starts with a quasi-cadenza for soloist, which sets the mood of the movement. This is carried over by the orchestra (for strings only) which accompanies the soloist’s long cantilena. After a quasi-development section based on two intervals in minor and minor inn the flow of the music the solo cantilena re-emerges and brings the movement to an end with a shortened quasi-cadenza for soloist.

Tonight there was a wonderful dialogue between soloist and conductor. Both attended to the very flexible tempo indication ‘Rubato’. I had not heard Moscow trained Sergei Krylov before, but by tonight’s standards he is clearly one of the most distinguished violinists playing today. His tone is so diverse, as are his glissandi and pizzicato as heard in the concertos finale. He negotiates multi- stopping (chordal playing) with absolute assurance and integrity. Throughout the concerto Krylov deployed an absolute minimum of vibrato thereby playing with a tonal purity which so informs Panufnik’s design. I can’t imagine Menuhin or any other violinist dead or alive surpassing Krylov.

The Adagio, built on alternate minor and major triads initially in the orchestra, but then taken up by the soloist, as one commentator has noted, the dark minor thirds take the semblance of a Purcell- like descending bass line. The movement’s coda exudes a poetics of simplicity and reflexivity all ultimately expressed by the soloist in the tone of ‘molto tranquillo’ marked in the score.

The ‘vivace’ finale further explores the use of minor and major thirds – in the second section the melodic line initiates a minor triad as a kind of elaborated reflection from the first movement. In this movement the emphasis is very much on rhythm and constant cross-rhythms – except in the middle section- where the soloist plays a long cantabile sequence on a G-string, compellingly sustained by Krylov tonight. But all this is interrupted by short rhythmic constellations from the orchestra increasingly in dance mode. Panufnik wrote here that he wanted to convey the human feelings of joyousness, vitality and even some sense of humour.

As an encore Krylov played a brilliant and perceptive rendition of Ysayë’s ‘Obsession’ from his Second Violin Sonata in A minor, Op.27 with its intonations of the ‘Dies irae’.

London, Gubaidulina, The Guardian

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Krylov, Kaljuste, LPO, Royal Festival Hall

Martin Kettle, November 7, 2013

Sergei Krylov brought out the serenity in Sofia Gubaidulina’s violin concerto.

Sofia Gubaidulina’s Offertorium, her Bach- and Webern-inspired 1980s violin concerto, was written for Gidon Kremer. It is no exaggeration to say that Kremer’s artistry and even his platform manner feel embedded in every page. So any violinist who takes up the solo part has big shoes to fill, especially when the 82-year-old composer herself is in the audience. But Sergei Krylov was more than up to the task.

Krylov’s playing had all the fierce physicality Gubaidulina’s score requires. At times it felt as if he was wrestling with it, so often did he twist and turn his body to extract the swooping and stabbing solo phrases from the musical marble and to ensure the maximum weight of the bow. Or maybe, this being the music of the deeply religious Gubaidulina, he was wrestling with an angel. As the concerto emerged into the rapt but always fragile chorale with which it concludes, it certainly felt that way.

If the still serenity at the end of Gubaidulina’s concerto is hard won, that of Arvo Pärt is a given. Under the clear and committed direction of his Estonian compatriot Tõnu Kaljuste, himself a revered figure in the Baltic school, the second half of the concert consisted of three key Pärt pieces. The glowing Magnificat for unaccompanied chorus, performed by the London Philharmonic Chorus, segued into the purely orchestral Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, played with intense concentration by the LPO strings. The two components then came together in Pärt’s 1990 Berlin Mass for chorus and string orchestra. This took time to find its pulse, and the delicate balances between choral text and instrumental nuance did not quite come together until the radiant Veni Sancte Spiritus and the Credo, after which the realisation of this characteristically rapt piece never looked back.