White Lilac 2018: time of wonder

White Lilac 2018: time of wonder Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The international festival named after Sergei Rachmaninoff White Lilac finished last Saturday in Kazan on the stage of the Saydashev State Great Concert Hall. More information about the festival, which has been held for the eighth time, and what it brings to the city — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Special place

White Lilac was established by artistic director and chief conductor of the Tatarstan State Symphony Orchestra Alexander Sladkovsky eight years ago, in the first months after he took over the management of the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra. In fact, it was the first festival invented by Sladkovsky — the maestro realized that it was necessary to promote the orchestra and bring it out of the ''zone of silence'', where it had been for a long time.

Sladkovsky became artistic director of White Lilac, as well as of all numerous festivals he established. If earlier in the activities of Tatarstan orchestra a festival movement was absent, now the Kazan citizens have big choice — from Kazan Autumn to Concordia named after Sofia Gubaydulina, where modern music sounds, from Miras, returning the masterpieces of music of Tatarstan composers to the audience, to Rakhlin Seasons, where the founder of the orchestra, Natan Rakhlin, is remembered. But still, although this is perhaps the subjective opinion of the author of these lines, White Lilac is different.

Obviously, this is connected with the name of Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the most complex, profound and reverent composers of the last century, for whom there is a special place in the hearts of musicians and in the hearts of listeners. A huge portrait of Rachmaninoff looks into the audience during all the festival concerts, and next to the Big Concert Hall, in the neighbouring house, where the city hall is now located, there was Nobility Assembly once, and in its hall Sergei Vasilyevich performed for the Kazan public twice. According to one of the versions, the Rachmaninoff family has Tatar roots.

The audience waits for White Lilac for the whole year, tickets are sold out in advance, and although it is Saturday night when festival concerts are given, it seems to be not the most favourable for the spring-summer holiday period, there is no shortage of spectators

Spring, when White Lilac begins, is not chosen by chance, because it was a favourite flower Rachmaninoff, the alleys in his estate were planted with its bushes. So, the choice of Maestro Sladkovsky is justified from all sides. The audience waits for White Lilac for the whole year, tickets are sold out in advance, and although it is Saturday night when festival concerts are given, it seems to be not the most favourable for the spring-summer holiday period, there is no shortage of spectators, all concerts are sold out.

Parade of conductors and pianists

White Lilac this year, and not only this — a parade of conductors and pianists. As for the latter, if we recall that Rachmaninoff himself was a great performer and gave concerts, then again it all corresponds. This year the audience heard Denis Matsuev, Olly Mustonen, Dmitry Masleev, Polina Osetinskaya, Ekaterina Mechetins, Philipp Kopachevsky — the list is more than impressive. The festival ended with performances of rising stars — very young musicians came on stage, as if taking the baton from their senior colleagues.

Hearing such a constellation of performers in a few weeks is not always possible evene in our two ''first capitals'', but the current level of performance of the Tatarstan State Orchestra and competent management make this possible. But, to the sadness of Kazan music lovers, this year from five festival concerts Sladkovsky only once conducted the orchestra, generously giving way to his colleagues, because White Lilac is not only a parade of soloists, but also of conductors.

The first concert of the festival has already become a sensation – that night the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Yuri Bashmet. Kazan audience is used to see the great viola player more often as a performer, he often performs with the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra, but it is possible to get acquainted with Bashmet-conductor not so often, and it, certainly, was interesting.

Kazan audience is used to see the great viola player more often as a performer, he often performs with the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Dmitry Reznov

However, surprises at the concerts of the Tatarstan Orchestra are becoming a matter of habit in a good sense. In this regard, the programme, which was conducted by Alexander Sladkovsky at the festival, is probably the most significant concert of White Lilac this year.

The maestro chose not just a complex-contrast programme. In the first part, Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 was performed, a complex, philosophical one, read by Sladkovsky as a long monologue of a man analyzing his life and striving for light. The conductor is organized, laconic, but from time to time he gives release to his temperament and completely immerses in his native romantic elements.

The second part was as if fundamentally different. Its climax — rhapsody in blues by George Gershwin, where the soloist was Denis Matsuev, jazz contrabass player — Andrey Ivanov and drummer — Alexander Zinger. The audience plunged into the element of improvisation, Matsuev, Zinger and Ivanov alternately soloed, entered into a dialogue with each other, as if in some hidden competition. Over all this, there reigned conductor — charming in his looseness, who with some joy and unreal freedom managed soloists and the orchestra.

Well, the final chord of White Lilac 2018 is a performance with the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra of ''young, unfamiliar tribe''. Three young musicians – George Harliono, Varvara Kutuzova and Ilya Papoyan with no allowance for age, quite grown-up, worked out a complex programme. This concert in some way can be correlated with the project of the symphony orchestra ''Heritage of the Republic'', where Sladkovsky gives a start to life to other talented children.

This is not Tatarstan, but an international brand, which has gained prestige among musicians and listeners over eight years

White Lilac with its verified repertoire policy, with the highest level of performers, which fully corresponds to the current class of the Tatarstan Symphony Orchestra. This is not Tatarstan, but an international brand, which has gained prestige among musicians and listeners over eight years. It is a pity that we will have to wait for a year for the new festival. However, we have Kazan Autumn soon, where traditionally there will be many surprises. Romantic heroes, to whom Maestro Sladkovsky could be ranked to, can not help but surprise.

By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
Tatarstan