New York Philharmonic – Dima Slobodeniouk conducts Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony; Karen Gomyo plays Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto

Violin Concerto No.1 in A-minor, Op.99

Symphony No.1 in G-minor, Op.13 (Winter Dreams)

Karen Gomyo (violin)

New York Philharmonic
Dima Slobodeniouk

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 17 November, 2021
Venue: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City

Dima Slobodeniouk made a propitious New York Philharmonic debut in this concert, leading a program originally scheduled to be conducted by Semyon Bychkov, who withdrew for reasons unknown.

The evening got off to a blazing start with Karen Gomyo giving an extraordinarily intense performance of Shostakovich’s demanding First Violin Concerto. In an account replete with passionate sound and feeling, her playing displayed boundless technical assurance and a bold, relentless beauty. She drove right into the work, delivering the long-spun melodies and sinewy textures of the darkly brooding opening movement (‘Nocturne’) with uncompromising directness. The more acerbic second-movement ‘Scherzo’ received a fierce and decisive reading. In the third-movement ‘Passacaglia’ she engaged in highly expressive counterpoint with members of the orchestra, rendering the solo part with sensitivity and grace, before building up to a frenzy in a bravura account of the massive ‘Cadenza’. The festive ‘Burlesque’ final movement was aptly exhilarating. Through it all, Slobodeniouk and the Philharmonic matched Gomyo in both energy and fervor.

Tchaikovsky’s ‘Winter Dreams’ Symphony got off to a splendid start with Slobodeniouk’s clear and gracefully full-bodied conducting style eliciting a vibrant and highly stylish rendition.  A nimbly-paced opening Allegro tranquillo, ‘Daydreams of a Winter Journey’ successfully evoked all the Mendelssohnian lightness of a mid-winter trek. The lovely and lyrical second movement Adagio cantabile, ‘Land of Gloom, Land of Mist’, was appropriately atmospheric and dreamy, with wonderfully graceful violins in the opening and resplendent horns at the end. The restless Scherzo was nicely pointed, followed by a particularly bracing Finale building to a fittingly exuberant coda to close a fine and highly-satisfying interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s vivid and enchanting score.

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