It was a brave all-Russian programme that was delivered by Oxford Sinfonia on Saturday night, considering today’s cancel culture – Khachaturian’s Adagio from ‘Spartacus’, followed by his fiendishly challenging violin concerto, finishing with Tchaikovsky’s profound Symphony no. 5.
The best of Russia meets one of Oxford’s favourite orchestras in The Sheldonian. Throw in a divine virtuoso violinist, and the result was stratospheric!
Delivered with exquisite grace and fire by Jennifer Pike (who had won Young Musician of the Year at the age of 12), read about it here we were on the edge of our seats from the moment Jennifer appeared – and not just because of the infamous Sheldonian Theatre seating!
Swept along by her passion and energy of the soloist, the orchestra raised its game to meet such a virtuoso; the wind and brass section, percussionists and harpist matching her verve, all elegantly conducted under the watchful eye of Robert Weaver.
There is a bitter irony here, in the light of the current war on Ukraine – this symphony was used a morale-booster during World War II, when the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra famously played it from their besieged city. The performance was broadcast live to London, while bombs were dropping.
Just the evening then for a cold January night: music full of Russian fire, passion, pathos, and a dash of melancholy – beautifully performed, to a full and enthusiastic house.