Review: "Rachmaninoff's First"

Another review of my concerts last week with the Fort Worth Symphony.

He keeps his clear and precise beat pattern in front of his body, only rarely extending his arms further when the music demands. Within these parameters, he is every bit as expressive as the most profusely active conductors.

Solzhenitsyn’s careful interpretation [of Ravel’s Ma Mere l’Oye], with every detail made prominent, proved to be involving. The audience began to listen more and more carefully, as if they were hearing a speaker who had a soft voice. Thus, when the rare big brilliant swaths of sound rose out of the texture, they were impressive and thrilling.

I listened to Solzhenitsyn’s methodical building of [Rachmaninoff’s First] symphony, like a building made of individual bricks. Conducting without a score, he exuded confidence and no superfluous gestures got in his way. It is a truism that you start and the beginning and work to the end, but in a piece like this (and the composer’s later works as well), you start at the beginning but you must have the end in your sights the whole way. In Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation, he left no passage, no matter how tempting, that would overplay the ending. Thus, instead of the first symphony appearing to be devoid of Rachmaninoff’s big song-like tunes, when one does appear in the last movement, it is all the more impressive. Solzhenitsyn let it bloom—like a promise kept.
— Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones