Few of mankind’s creations can match the sheer magnificence of a great symphony orchestra going at full tilt.
Doubters of that statement were absent, no doubt, when the Leningrad Philharmonic--soon to be named the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, insiders predict--gave its third concert in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Friday.
Music director Yuri Temirkanov treated the packed house to a can’t-miss Tchaikovsky program, conducting with his now familiar, near-clowning yet pointed style. He wore an impish smirk for a good portion of the evening. He wove magic for all of it.
Temirkanov’s commanding playfulness revealed itself most readily in Act II from “The Nutcracker,” which made up the second half of the program. What emerged was sustained brilliance, at once authoritative and original.
The conductor painted with vivid brush strokes, eliciting startling contrasts and sparkling hues, luminous moodiness and gut-thumping power. The grand sweep of the line and little details mattered. He found new nuance in the celesta music in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” He actually shaped the glissandos on the harp.
His sometimes daringly slow tempos threatened forward impulse but ended up illuminating its atmospheric stillness. And at times the outpouring of emotion, as in the final pas de deux, reached epic proportions.
The Violin Concerto made up the first half, Victor Tretyakov, winner of the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition, as soloist. His proved a cool yet never unfeeling reading. The ease of his technique precluded empty bravura and brought graciousness to virtuoso feats; his control over inflection balanced tautness with flexibility. Temirkanov, often in eyeball-to-eyeball communication with the soloist, offered mellow, graceful support.
The sole encore, despite an insistent audience, was an agonizingly stretched-out, colossally tragic “Death of Tybalt” from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.”