Excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch, By Peter Tonguette
From BalletMet’s “The Nutcracker” to the Columbus Symphony’s Picnic With the Pops, certain central Ohio arts events can be counted on year after year.
To that list of steadfast standbys we ought to add the Columbus Symphony’s Russian Winter Festival.
Performed annually since January 2016, the festival features music by Russian composers at a time when temperatures may not actually be as low as those in, say, Siberia — but they sometimes feel that way.
Well, this year’s edition — which opened Friday night at the Ohio Theatre — took place during a mild break in the weather, but that didn’t diminish the music or mood.
Guest pianist Natasha Paremski — a native of Moscow who now resides in New York City — kicked off the proceedings in dramatic fashion with the forceful opening to “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Paremski is particularly well suited for pieces as volatile as this one, gliding effortlessly from dramatic pounding to deft playing. [She] may have mastered Rachmaninoff, but Music Director Rossen Milanov again demonstrated that he has Tchaikovsky in his bones.
With undisguised fervor at the podium, the conductor led the symphony in a sensational second-half performance of the “Manfred Symphony” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky — a piece as pure and breathtaking as the Swiss Alps, the setting of the Lord Byron poem upon which the symphony is based.
The work made a range of demands on the CSO, encompassing powerful parts for percussion to stirring notes for the strings, but the musicians delivered. Milanov managed it all with aplomb; at one point, the barely audible plucking of violins ceased with the conductor simply turning his hand.