Cellist Sergey Antonov with Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
Charles T. Downey WASHINGTON POST
“Life is short, so eat dessert first” is advice that cellist Sergey Antonov took to heart. In a concert with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the finely whipped mousse of Alexander Glazunov’s “Chant du Menestrel” was a delicious piece with which to lead to a dazzling rendition of Haydn’s first cello concerto. Concluding with a barnburner of a Shostakovich symphony, the evening showed how a lower-tier orchestra can distinguish itself through daring programming.
Antonov, still in his 20s, won the Gold Medal at Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2007. His suave, burnished, ardent tone served the Glazunov melody elegantly, with a free sense of phrasing that was neither too mechanical nor bogged down in sugary rubato. In the Haydn, Antonov went for admirably clean articulation, pressing both outer movements to the fast side but making sure to use the soft, angelic side of his tone rather than grinding out all the notes. The only disappointment was that he played the common, short cadenzas, rather than something more unusual, like those played by his one-time mentor, Mstislav Rostropovich.