With two Russian composers on the bill (or three, if you want to count this orchestra’s version of Brahms as an honorary Russian composer), the St. Petersburg Philharmonic turned the Granada into a Russian concert hall for a night with their sweeping interpretations and dynamic, expressive style. Concert master Lev Klychkov shined throughout the evening, and was particularly impressive in the Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Overture with which the program began. Young American cellist Alisa Weilerstein more than held her own in the heavily percussive Shostakovich Concerto for Cello No. 1, which requires enormous energy and rhythmic gusto from the soloist.
Perhaps the most interesting effect of the evening was achieved after the intermission, when the orchestra offered its take on the fourth symphony of Johannes Brahms. It was easy to see why this group has won awards for its renditions of Mozart, yet the Russian feeling remained dominant. The encore, “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, shimmered in the air with a suitable element of the fantastic to conclude this program of high-flying orchestral verve.