On November 19, 2018, Misha Rachlevsky and the Russian String Orchestra (formerly called the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra) presented a most unusually varied and interesting program at Florida International University’s (FIU) Wertheim Concert Hall in Miami. To begin the program, the 14 string players played Elgar’s Serenade for Strings,in E minor, Opus 20. Interestingly, Rachlevsky noted in a program note that he found the second movement “utterly captivating” – and his affection for it, which he projected, “only grew stronger with time.”After the Le-Grand arrangement of Mozart’s Adagio. K. 322, Rachlevsky collaborated with Alexander Fiterstein in a stunning performance Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. Since being awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, Fiterstein has been recognized internationally as one of the foremost clarinetists of our time. Pianist Anastasiya Naplekova amd Harpist Diana Rada joined the ensemble for the piano and harp parts required by the score.
The second half of the program began with John Coriglano’s Voyage. Over the years , Rachlevsky has demonstrated an affinity for conducting major works by Corigliano. In this concert, Rachlevsky chose Voyage, a short work for strings, as a tribute to Corigliano for his 80th birthday, which was celebrated earlier this year.
He then conducted the Variation VI (Adagio) from Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations in which the orchestra was joined by Gabriela Mesa and Fabian Morales, principal dancers of the highly acclaimed Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, who had previously been principal dancers of the Miami City Ballet. The excerpt performed was from the ballet Reflections, chorographed by Gerald Arpino. The audience was mesmerized.
The concluding work on the program was “For Misha’s Gang – Suite for small, regular, large and extra-large fiddles” by Bekmanbetov. Bekmanbetov, a former member of the orchestra, now living in Canada, was commissioned to write the work by Rachlevsky. The delightful work consists of ten short movements in which each of the orchestra’s string players has a solo role. It was obvious that the players played with great enthusiam and enjoyment – which captivated the audience.