MonthJanuary 2019

St Petersburg Philharmonic/Sinaisky review – fresh and witty Prokofiev

Symphony Hall, BirminghamVassily Sinaisky stood in for Yuri Temirkanov in an exacting performance that left no detail overlooked No Russian orchestra has a finer pedigree than the St Petersburg Philharmonic. Its greatest days as the Leningrad Philharmonic – under its music director for half a century, the legendary Yevgeny Mravinsky – may be Soviet history now, but it has maintained its place in the first rank of European orchestras. Yuri Temirkanov took over from Mravinsky in 1988 and was due to conduct this latest UK tour, but had to withdraw because of illness. His place was taken by Vassily Sinaisky, who is no stranger to the orchestra, or to British audiences. Sinaisky left the programmes unchanged, and for its Birmingham visit that meant Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Mahler. There was something familiar yet fresh about the performance of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony that began the concert – familiar because everything in this fundamentally mechanical piece ran on perfectly oiled wheels, fresh in that Sinaisky ensured no detail was overlooked and none of its knowing wit was missed. After that, Freddy Kempf’s account of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto had urgency and excitement. There’s a bit more introspection in parts of the opening Allegro and in the Intermezzo than Kempf admitted, but his assaults on the first-movement cadenza and the finale were so irresistible that it hardly mattered. The orchestra, meanwhile, supplied exactly the kind of tangy, deep-toned backdrop the performance required. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Sarah Sanders believes Trump’s presidency was a divine plan. God bless America! | Arwa Mahdawi

The president’s press secretary has said that Trump was brought to the presidency through holy intervention. And that does make a twisted sort of sense Are you there, God? It’s me, Arwa, and I have a question. Namely, is it true you wanted Donald Trump to become president? Because that is what Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, is saying. And, while the idea may sound wholly implausible, I really can’t imagine Sanders would lie. If you’re not God, and you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, I refer you to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Sanders recently told CBN that she believes it was God that put Trump in power rather than, you know, any of that Russian collusion malarkey. “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” she said. Continue reading… [hmp_player]