28th January 2017
Mr. Bychkov is a committed Tchaikovskyan, a restless intellect and a brilliant conductor. His current international Tchaikovsky Project breathes new life into these familiar war-horse pieces. The first concert in the series was Thursday night and the results were both unconventional and excellent… In this performance [of Symphony No. 5], Mr. Bychkov made an excellent case for this overplayed symphony by removing the silken mannerisms and sentimental clichés that too many conductors (and audience members) confuse with intelligent interpretation. By playing not to the expectations of the audience but to the very letter of the written score, he engineered a triumph and a convincing argument for his approach to this composer’s music… Mr. Bychkov conducted the whole with a sense of light and shade, but again refrained from letting sentiment rule and ruin the day.
27th January 2017
Bychkov, conducting from memory [in Symphony No. 5], guided the music with well-shaped dynamics and tempo modulations. Everything worked so well as to seem perfectly natural and logical, and overall he let the music flow and speak for itself, with not even a momentary indulgence in pathos. If anything, he reserved emphasis for the most strident moments, especially in the opening movement.
26th January 2017
It was in the Fifth Symphony however that all the magic of Bychov’s approach to Tchaikovsky took hold… The precision of the performance, its often yearning beauty and the pleasure NY Phil performers took in the conductor and the music made this an unforgettable evening. No one wanted to leave the concert. Everyone seemed eager to return soon.
24th January 2017
Under Bychkov’s baton, the musicians were perfectly relaxed. Perfect, not in the sense of an absence of errors demanded by the live situation and this legend of legendary orchestras, but perfect because the Orchestra breathed as one in Brahms’ musical language, claiming the North German as if one of their own. You only need to have heard the Viennese to understand the extent to which they understood the idiom.
This evening was great because Mahler’s artistry took the music to its very limits. At the beginning, at least 16 of the first violins played what sounded like nothing but quivering air – almost inaudibly quiet and inaudibly high. Then gradually, the composer seemed to pluck remembered images from the air: here the bird-like call of the clarinet, and there the distant rumble of thunder from the timpani, and entwined them in the seemingly carefree melody from “Liedern eines fahrenden Gesellen”. Ultimately driving the work forward at full throttle unabated until it reached its conclusion and climax.
The audience was remarkably attentive. In the moments of introspection, when it felt as if the music’s desolation moved the ground beneath Mahler’s feet, the silence was palpable.