Who would ever suppose an obscure one-movement piano concerto could produce this sort of triumph? Alexei Volodin simply and unexpectedly swept away his Sydney listeners at this concert to frenzied screams with his performance of the Medtner Piano Concerto No.1. Our audience came to hear The Planets no doubt, but many just as surely emerged, like me, a dazed convert to Medtner, as if taken over by pods in my sleep from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It was a stunning experience.
In recent years, I've had the feeling that Stravinsky, with the exception of his Sacre du Printemps and the vastly overplayed Pulcinella, has fallen somewhat into neglect. We rarely hear the great choral and dramatic works like Agon and Oedipus Rex, Mass, or even the Symphony of Psalms, not to mention the ballet, Les Noces. James Levine has a predilection for Stravinsky, and he has conducted fine performances of the Sacre and some others, but his effort has been tepid in comparison to his obsessive combing over Mahler, season after season, in preparation for the centenary of the composer's death year in 2011. Hence Gergiev's Stravinsky Festival with the New York Philharmonic is especially welcome, and I very much regret that I was not able to attend more than one of the concerts.