An Octogenarian's Time To Shine

Will Friedwald,
The New York Sun ,
February 24, 2006

Speaking of detente, Rose Theater on Wednesday night played host to visitors from even farther away than L.A. This was "Crossover Concerto," a concert starring two ensembles from Moscow. 

They were led by two dynamic players: the violist Yuri Bashmet, leading the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra, and the saxophonist Igor Butman with his own Big Band of Russia. The idea was to blend classical music and jazz by showing how the two groups could work together and by having the big band play adaptations of Russian and other classical works. 

Leonard Bernstein, Dick Hyman, and others have put together similar programs, but never with such a pronounced Russian accent. Mr. Butman gave us an exceedingly mellow treatment of Rachmaninoff's "Vocalese" on soprano sax and strings, and Mr. Bashmet played a Shostakovich "Scherzo" that was really slamming - as if it had been written by Charles Mingus. The second half, however, was the highlight, featuring a new "Jazz Suite"for the two orchestras and the two star soloists, along with the composer and pianist, Igor Raykhelson. At times reminiscent of Stan Getz and Eddie Sauter's "Focus," this is an organic work that succeeds in drawing out the best from this unusual combination.