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Performing Arts

All That Jazz

Bach and Mugham

Azerbaijani pianist Shahin Novrasli

Not many jazz musicians list Bach and Mugham as an influence on their music. Mugham? Its the traditional folk music of Azerbaijan, and the pianist Shahin Novrasli mixes its sinuous melodies with hot American jazz. Novrasli began his career as a boy virtuoso,
playing Rakhmaninov before he was ten, but he was attracted to jazz by the opportunities to improvise, and improvisation is now central to his playing. In Moscow hell be joined by bassist Nathan Peck from New York, and Russian percussionist Alexander Mashin.

When: 7 p.m., Feb. 19. 
Where: Moscow International Performing Arts Center, 52 Kosmodamianskaya naberezhnaya, m. Paveletskaya,
730 4350, 730 1860, 730 2224.


The Andrzej Jagodzinski trio


Poles apart

How could any Polish pianist ignore Chopin? Andrzej Jagodzinski is the pianist with The Jagodzinski Trio, and he doesnt ignore Polands most famous composer, he plays around with him. Chopin makes occasional guest appearances, as his melodies weave through the music of his countrymen: Jagodzinski on keys, Adam Cegielski on bass and Czeslaw Bartkowski playing percussion.

When: 7 p.m., Feb. 13.
Where: Moscow International Performing Arts Center, 52 Kosmodamianskaya naberezhnaya, m. Paveletskaya,
730 4350, 730 1860, 730 2224.


Two-Hour Brides

AzerThe Tsars Bride by Rimsky-Korsakov. Novaya Opera

This new production by Novaya Opera of Rimsky-Korsakovs The Tsars Bride is directed by Yuri Grymov, who got his start making television commercials. You have less than sixty seconds to make the sell on TV, and here Grymov has two hours, so how does he use the time? He keeps the action flowing, and takes advantage of a scale far grander than the small screen.

Star soprano Marina Zhukova sings the heart out of Marfa, the daughter of a Novgorod merchant whose beauty catches the eye of serial widower Ivan the Terrible. Baritone Sergei Sheremet plays Gryaznoi, an officer of the oprichniki (the 16th centurys FSB), whose obsession with Marfa is at the center of the plots intrigues. Mezzo-soprano Margarita Nekrasova sings the role of Lyubasha, Gryaznois discarded mistress; she jealously attempts to replace the love potion he prepares for Marfa with poison that would scar Marfa for life.

The orchestra, under the tight direction of Feliks Korobov, is often hard put to outdo the glorious 90-member Novaya Opera chorus. They bring down the house, almost literally, because the design by Vladimir Maksimov has them climb around a stark wooden tower whose shape suggests both the tight-belted, flowing robes of medieval maidens, and the old  terem, upper floors where young women were kept out of trouble, sewing and pining.

There are catwalks that jut out above the stage, providing a space for eavesdropping and scheming, while the inside of the towers cage-like base makes a dark corner for tormented soul-searching.

Grymov understands what Rimsky-Korsakov is about in this opera, not an Italian lightness, but a Russian darkness the score draws on Orthodox liturgical themes and he goes for the hard sell here, with austere costumes to catch the eye (white for the ladies, black and red for the oprichniki), and incense swinging in the aisles to attract the nose. Stimuli for all the senses are on offer here; it makes sense to buy a ticket.

When: Feb. 3 and 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Novaya Opera, 3 Karetny ryad (in the Sad Ermitazh), m. Pushkinskaya, 200-0868, 200-1915.


Piping Hot

In 2001, the Basler Munster Cathedral in Basle, Switzerland announced that it would give a  new organ to Moscows Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The organ was installed at the end of last year, and now Moscows main Catholic cathedral has started 2005 by inviting the worlds greatest organists to play its new treasure. Many of them are visiting Moscow for the first time, and Russian conservatories are taking advantage of the opportunities for master classes, so that young musicians can learn from the greats.

The cathedral is emphasising the cultural, rather than the religious, significance of the event. Given the unfriendly way in which the Catholic Church has often been seen in Russia, perhaps the festivals organizers are hoping to encourage interconfessional harmony with the final concert in the series: Universal Mass by Alexander Grechaninov, a piece from the 1930s based on sacred music from Orthodox, Gregorian, and Jewish traditions. 

Feb 6. J.S. Bach and Austrian Organ Music. Johann Trummer, head of the Institute of Church Music in Graz, Austria, will perform works by Bach, Schmidt, Pachelbel, Albrechtsberger, and Doppelbauer.

Feb 10. Masterpieces for Organ by J.S. Bach. A recital by James Goettsche, the American-born organist at St Peters Basilica in the Vatican.

Feb 13. Organ music by Russian composers. Alexander Fiseisky plays works by Odoevsky, Taneev, Cherepnin, Homilius, Nirenburg, Gubaidulina, and Glazunov. In the second half of the concert, Fyodor Stroganov will take over at the pedals and will be joined by BLAGOVEST, a Moscow-based spiritual music ensemble directed by Galina Koltsova.

When: All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Malaya Gruzinskaya, 27/13, m. Krasnopresnenskaya, Belorusskaya, 252 4051 (automated answer system)

Tickets are on sale at the Cathedral. An assigned seat in pews 10-23 costs 500 rubles; seats in the side rows and
additional chairs cost 300 rubles. For 800 rubles, discerning concertgoers can get seats in rows through 1-9 by going through

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