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The best came last, however, as Nakamatsu returned for Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2. The pianist can dazzle with the smallest gestures: a trill, or a chord that emerges as if he were strumming a harp. His touch, the balance between his hands, his supersonic chordal sequences; they were impeccable, and expressively offered. The performance was at its loveliest during the Allegro Scherzando, when Nakamatsu’s lines went streaming and waltzing amid the fizzy verve of the orchestra, which played with impressive confidence and charm. The pianist’s ironclad pyrotechnics in the finale were over-the-top, but this is an over-the-top piece. Some might call it tacky. This listener calls it fun.
LONDON — Tuesday marks the 1-month countdown to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, a defining moment on the world stage for Russia and Vladimir Putin, These games are among the most contentious in Olympic history, embroiled in controversy over terrorist threats, human rights, gay rights, cost overruns, corruption and environmental damage, But ivory ballet flats is it all doom and gloom for Putin’s pet project?, Before the Olympic cauldron is lit on Feb, 7, it’s time for a look at the good and the bad for Russia’s first Winter Games..
The negatives. TERROR THREAT: The two bombings in Volgograd — which killed 34 people in suicide attacks on the rail station and a trolley bus — have escalated the security alarm. Sochi is located on the edge of the Caucasus region, where insurgents are seeking to create an Islamic state. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has urged his fighters to attack the Sochi Olympics, which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.” A massive security apparatus will be in place for the games, meaning painstaking metal-detector, X-ray and other checks for athletes, spectators and media. Ticketholders will need to obtain “spectator passes,” providing passport and other information to authorities. Email, phone and internet usage will reportedly be monitored by Russian security agencies. Putin is expected to attend many Olympic events, causing further security lockdowns. A heavy presence of Russian security forces could turn the games into an armed camp and undermine any prospect of a welcoming, festival atmosphere.
GAY RIGHTS: The Russian law banning gay “propaganda” has caused a furious backlash in the West and tarnished the country’s international reputation heading into the Olympics, While Russia has promised there will be no discrimination at the games, critics continue to bash the law, The IOC has been assailed for not pushing Russia to repeal the legislation, Some athletes are planning to make their views known in Sochi, either by speaking out or carrying or wearing symbols promoting gay rights, That’s something which ivory ballet flats could land athletes in trouble with the IOC, which prohibits any political gestures at the games..
HUMAN RIGHTS: Russia’s human rights record remains under scrutiny. With the games approaching, Putin has launched a charm offensive of sorts — pardoning former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and granting amnesty for Pussy Riot punk band members and Greenpeace activists. He has even rescinded an order banning any demonstrations in or around the games. Critics call the moves window dressing. Will protest applications be granted? Will anyone dare come out to demonstrate? Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has accused Russian authorities of mistreating migrant workers and harassing activists and journalists.
PUTIN’S POLITICS: Putin’s prickly relations with the West have soured any “feel-good” factor about the Olympics, Tensions with the U.S, and President Barack Obama grew after Putin granted temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Putin’s policies on Syria and Iran, and Russia’s backsliding on democratic reforms have antagonized Western leaders, For the first time since 2000, the U.S, delegation to the Olympics will not include a president, vice president or first lady, Obama is sending several openly gay athletes, including tennis ivory ballet flats great Billie Jean King and figure skater Brian Boitano, French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck are not going to Sochi, either..
WEATHER WORRIES: Sochi is a subtropical resort on the Black Sea. Temperatures on the coast, where the indoor ice events will be held, will be mild. That’s fine, but there is uncertainty over conditions in the mountains for the snow events. While there is already a good layer of snow in place, a spell of warm or wet weather could cause problems. As a precaution, organizers have stored up 450,000 cubic meters of snow. Also worth noting: flooding and avalanches are common in the region. RECORD COST: $51 billion. That’s the overall price tag for the games, by far the most expensive in history, summer or winter, and more than three times the budget of the 2012 London Games. The cost includes the long-term investment in roads, tunnels, railways and ski facilities. Everything has been built from scratch as Russia seeks to turn Sochi into a year-round tourist destination. The costs have soared way above previous projections amid allegations of financial mismanagement, corruption and favors doled out to oligarchs and Putin’s friends.
So what’s the good news then? Yes, there are things to look forward to, Here’s a sampling, NEW SPORTS: Twelve new events are on the sports program in Sochi, with women’s ski jumping perhaps the biggest attraction, Female jumpers are making their debut after being rejected for inclusion in Vancouver four years ago, In a nod to the young X Games generation, the IOC has also added ski halfpipe and ski and snowboard slopestyle events, Snowboard star Shaun White, aka the Flying Tomato, will unveil ivory ballet flats a new trick — a frontside double-cork 1440, It’s a variation of the Double McTwist 1260 he nailed at the 2010 Vancouver Games..