Temirkanov conducts Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff at Strathmore

Washington, D.C.­, January 8, 2014 (Washington Bangla Radio): - The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra returns to the Washington area on February 12 to perform an all-Russian program of works by Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff.  Conducted by Principal Conductor Yuri Temirkanov, the orchestra is joined for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 by 1999 Paganini Competition-winner Sayaka Shoji. The Concerto premiered in Madrid in 1935. Its first movement starts with a violin theme based on Russian folk music. Rachmaninoff premiered his Symphony No. 2 conducting the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 1908.

Said the Washington Post of their last WPAS appearance here, “Yuri Temirkanov is sorely missed. The veteran maestro, who still ranks as one of the world’s most insightful and compelling podium presences, used to be a regular visitor to the Washington area when he helmed the Baltimore Symphony. His Strathmore Hall appearance Tuesday with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic reminded us how cherishable his now-rarer appearances have become.” “The violins still display some of that keen edge they possessed in the Soviet era, when this ensemble was known as the Leningrad Philharmonic, but they are also significantly sweeter and rounder of tone these days. There were countless felicities of phrasing along the way, not least from an eloquent group of wind players. And, crucially, Temirkanov knows how to build climactic moments for maximum punch. Aided by his searing, robustly satisfying brass section, this was a performance of the Brahms [Symphony no. 4] that concluded with thrilling exuberance.”

Described by Gramophone as “a formidable musician, able to draw on huge reserves of stamina and the unflinching equal of anything thrown at her.,” Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji has performed with the world’s leading conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta, since winning First Place at the 1999 Paganini Competition. Pappano. She has also performed with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov.

A 2004 graduate of the Hochschule fur Musik Köln, Shoji has toured with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin and regularly works with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra with which she toured Eastern Europe in spring 2013.  Highlights of Shoji’s  2013/14 season include debut concerts with the BBC Philharmonic, the Orquesta Classica Santa Cecilia and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and collaboration with Menahem Pressler for a tour to Japan.  Shoji also appears regularly as a recitalist and chamber musician alongside artists such as Joshua Bell, Vadim Repin, Julian Quentin, Itamar Golan, Yefim Bronfman and Steven Isserlis. Recent festival appearances have included Verbier, Ravenna, Evian and Schleswig Holstein festivals.

Sayaka Shoji has recorded multiple discs for Deutsche Grammophon, including a debut CD with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which received critical acclaim. She has also recorded an album dedicated to works by Prokofiev and Shostakovich (with Itamar Golan) and three volumes of Beethoven's Violin Sonatas with Gianluca Cascioli were released in 2010 and 2012, with a further volume due for release in 2015. Her CD release in winter 2014 will include Prokofiev’s Concertos with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Temirkanov) will be released in 2013. Shoji now resides in Europe. She plays a 1729 Recamier Stradivarius –loaned to her by Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry Ltd.

Yuri Temirkanov has been the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra since 1988 and regularly undertakes major international tours and recordings with them. He is also Music Director of the Teatro Regio di Parma and Music Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, for which he was music director from 2000-06.

Born in the Caucasus city of Nalchik, Temirkanov began his musical studies at the age of nine and at 13 began attending the Leningrad School for Talented Children, where he studied violin and viola. Upon graduation, he attended the Leningrad Conservatory, where he completed his studies in viola and later returned to study conducting, graduating in 1965. After winning the prestigious All-Soviet National Conducting Competition in 1966, he was invited by Kiril Kondrashin to tour Europe and the United States with violinist David Oistrakh and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.

Temirkanov made his debut with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in early 1967 and then was named Assistant Conductor to its legendary Mariinsky. Temirkanov was appointed Principal Conductor of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra in 1968 where he remained until being appointed Music Director of the Kirov Opera and Ballet (now the Mariinsky Theatre) in 1976 where he produced celebrated performances of Eugene Onegin and Queen of Spades and remained until 1988.

Temirkanov is a frequent guest conductor of major orchestras in Europe, Asia and the United States, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome, and La Scala, Milan. He was appointed  Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977 and was the orchestra’s Principal Conductor from 1992 until 1998. From 1992 to 1997, he was also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra and from 1998 to 2008 was Principal Guest Conductor of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre until 2009.

A regular visitor to the United States, he conducts the major orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Temirkanov’s numerous recordings include collaborations with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he recorded the complete Stravinsky ballets and Tchaikovsky symphonies. Temirkanov hosts the annual International Winter Festival Arts Square in St. Petersburg, Russia, to which he invites many of the world’s leading soloists. He has received many distinguished awards in Russia and in 2002 received the Abbiati Prize for Best Conductor. He was named Conductor of the Year in Italy in 2003 and was made an Honorary Academician of Santa Cecilia.

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic was founded in 1882 to perform at royal functions, but by the early 20th century began to perform concerts for the general public. Tchaikovsky conducted the orchestra’s performance of the premiere of his Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”) shortly before his death and the orchestra also performed the Russian premieres of Richard Strauss’ symphonic poems Ein Heldenleben and Also Sprach Zarathustra, Mahler’s First Symphony, Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy and Shostokovich’s Symphony No. 1.

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In 1918, the orchestra premiered Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony conducted by the composer. Then in 1921 (as the newly named Petrograd Philharmonic), the orchestra began to be conducted by a series of great Western conductors including Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, and Felix Weingartner. Other famous conductors have included Richard Strauss, Alexander Glazunov and Serge Koussevitsky. The orchestra also began to play a modern repertoire during this period, including works by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Hindemith, Honegger and Poulenc, and continued to premiere the music of contemporary Russian composers.  Distinguished soloists such as Vladimir Horowitz and Sergei Prokofiev (performing his own piano concertos) appeared with the orchestra.

From 1938-1988, Evgeny Mravinsky, to whom Shostakovich dedicated his Eighth Symphony, transformed the ensemble into one of the world’s best orchestras. Other leading conductors during this period included Leopold Stokowski, Igor Markevich, Kurt Sanderling, Georg Solti, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Mariss Jansons.

During the past decade, the orchestra has given several world premieres and opened the 2005-06 Season at Carnegie Hall. It culminated its 125th anniversary celebrations with a winter festival that opened with a performance with Evgeny Kissin, toured the United States and presented three performances at Carnegie Hall.