Following the Sergei Prokofiev Music Festival which took place in Rome from 10 to 15 December, Valery Gergiev departed for The Netherlands, where once again he will be conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
On 17 December there will be a concert in Utrecht at the TivoliVredenburg music venue, followed on 18 and 19 December by concerts at the famous De Doelen concert hall in Rotterdam, the home of the Dutch orchestra. Over all three evenings, the acclaimed Dutch violinist Janine Jansen will be appearing with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and maestro Gergiev. The programmes feature Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto and suites from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Christmas Eve and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker.
Valery Gergiev has had a longstanding creative partnership with this Dutch orchestra. From 1995 to 2008 maestro Gergiev was Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, while in 1996 together with the ensemble he founded the Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev Festival. From 2008 to the present Valery Gergiev has been an honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the years of his collaboration with the orchestra he has conducted over four hundred concerts in The Netherlands and abroad. In September 2014 maestro Gergiev conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic at the XIX Gergiev Festival marking one century since the start of the First World War.
In the lead up to Christmas and New Year there will be a premiere of a new production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy-tale opera Christmas Eve at the historic Mariinsky Theatre; previously, it was performed at the Concert Hall.
Moving the opera to the old theatre will give new stage life to this already popular work which was premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre one hundred and twenty years ago. Stage Director Olga Malikova is convinced that “the demonic forces and human flaws that Gogol personifies in his characters is nothing other than the evil that is present in all of us and which forces us to do ill-conceived, at times silly and depraved things” and that love can overcome the power of evil and produce wonders, and so the residents of the village of Dikanka will tell audiences a beautiful story about a Christmas of love.
From 13 to 16 December the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting ballets at the Tianjin Grand Theatre (Northern China)
From 13 to 16 December the Mariinsky Theatre will be presenting ballets at the Tianjin Grand Theatre (Northern China).
In Tianjin the Mariinsky Ballet will be performing The Little Humpbacked Horse featuring choreography by Alexei Ratmansky with Ulyana Lopatkina and Vladimir Shklyarov (13 December) and Anastasia Kolegova and Filipp Stepin (14 December) in the lead roles as well as an evening of ballets by Michel Fokine. Chopiniana will feature Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Tatiana Tiliguzova and Viktoria Brileva (15 December), Anastasia Kolegova, Anna Lavrinenko and Alisa Sodoleva (16 December) and Yevgeny Ivanchenko. The lead roles in The Firebird will be performed by Anastasia Kolegova (15 December), Sofia Gumerova (16 December) and Yuri Smekalov. In Schéhérazade Chinese audiences will see Alisa Sodoleva with Vladimir Shklyarov (15 December) and Viktoria Brileva with Ernest Latypov (16 December).
The Grand Theatre in Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, is located in a picturesque park on the shore of a lake. The theatre building, opened in 2012, resembles a seashell lapping against the water. Its semi-circular roof, which appears to soar above the ground, links three stage venues.
From 10 to 15 December the Italian capital will be hosting a major festival of music by Sergei Prokofiev, organised by the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and maestro Gergiev, an untiring promoter of Prokofiev’s musical legacy
From 10 to 15 December the Italian capital will be hosting a major festival of music by Sergei Prokofiev, organised by the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (a State-sponsored complex of concert organisations, arts education institutions, museums and libraries in Rome) and maestro Gergiev, an untiring promoter of Prokofiev’s musical legacy. During the festival Valery Gergiev will present six concerts with the Mariinsky Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
Prior to that, on 9 December, maestro Gergiev will conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in Turin, where there will be a performance of masterpieces of Russian symphony music including Modest Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition orchestrated by Maurice Ravel and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (Pathétique).
Over three evenings (10, 11 and 12 December) at the grand concert hall of the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a focal point for classical music in Rome, the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev will be performing a series of every symphony by Sergei Prokofiev as well as his Second Violin Concerto (soloist – Leonidas Kavakos). Also, on 13, 14 and 15 December as part of the festival maestro Gergiev will conduct three concerts by the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, each of which will feature a performance of three works by Prokofiev – Russian Overture for Symphony Orchestra, Violin Concerto No 1 (soloist – Leonidas Kavakos) and the oratorio Ivan the Terrible (together with the chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and soloists Yulia Matochkina and Roman Burdenko).
The festival in Rome adds to the series of projects by Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Theatre performers dedicated to the works of Sergei Prokofiev. It is well-known that maestro Gergiev is today the most acclaimed interpreter of Prokofiev’s music; with the Mariinsky Theatre as well as international companies on numerous occasions he has conducted all of Prokofiev’s operas, symphonies, instrumental concerti, cantatas and most famous ballets. Many of Valery Gergiev’s interpretations of Prokofiev’s music have been released on CD or DVD (these recordings have received prestigious Russian and international awards), and several works were performed by him for the first time. In just the last few months maestro Gergiev conducted the great 20th century Russian composer’s music in Stockholm, Vienna, Dortmund and Cardiff, while last week a cycle of seven symphonies and five piano concerti by Prokofiev was performed in Beijing.
From 5 to 8 December there will be a major tour in terms of geography covered and the intensity of performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev to Russian cities. Over four days the Mariinsky Orchestra will present six concerts in three Russian cities, travelling between Khanty-Mansiysk and Moscow in this short space of time
From 5 to 8 December there will be a major tour in terms of geography covered and the intensity of performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev to Russian cities. Over four days the Mariinsky Orchestra will present six concerts in three Russian cities, travelling between Khanty-Mansiysk and Moscow in this short space of time.
On Friday 5 December the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev will give two concerts in Khanty-Mansiysk at the Ugra-Classic theatre and concert complex. The playbill for the matinee concert – in line with tradition a charitable event – includes Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and three symphonic sketches La Mer as well as Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The evening concert will feature Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
The Mariinsky Theatre has a longstanding history of artistic collaboration with Khanty-Mansiysk, the capital of the Ugra Region – Mariinsky Theatre performers under maestro Gergiev appear on an annual basis at the Ugra-Classic complex which opened in December 2004. Khanty-Mansiysk has frequently appeared on the Mariinsky Theatre’s touring schedule in recent years.
On the subsequent two days (6 and 7 December) the Mariinsky Orchestra musicians will be in Samara, where they will perform three concerts at the Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre as part of the programme of the VII Music Festival To Mstislav Rostropovich. The matinee concert on 6 December will be a charitable event for pupils of the region’s music schools and their teachers as well as veterans, pensioners, children and young people. The programme includes Sergei Prokofiev’s symphonic tale Peter and the Wolf and First (Classical) Symphony. The matinee concert on 7 December features Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and three symphonic sketches La Mer as well as Modest Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. At the evening concert on 7 December there will be a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
The Music Festival To Mstislav Rostropovich, organised on the initiative of Valery Gergiev and the government of the Samara Region, takes place on an annual basis. The first two festivals in 2008 and 2009 were held at the Samara State Philharmonic, while starting in 2010 all festival concerts have taken place at the Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre following the completion of major reconstruction work. The festival pays tribute to the memory of the outstanding Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich (1927–2007). The exceptional talent and unbounded energy together with other unique qualities of this great musician, humanist and unusually powerful and magnetic personality made him a truly outstanding figure in the history of classical music.
On Monday 8 December the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev will appear at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow. The evening will be dedicated to the memory of President and Chairman of the Board of the French energy company Total Christophe de Margerie (1951–2014), who tragically died in a plane crash on the night of 20-21 October. Christophe de Margerie made a huge contribution to the development of Franco-Russian economic and cultural relations. Total has supported numerous cultural projects, its idea being to strengthen relations between the two countries. Since 2006 Total has supported art projects of the Mariinsky Theatre and Valery Gergiev, such as the Moscow Easter Festival, the Stars of the White Nights music festival and tours by the Mariinsky Theatre throughout Russia’s regions. Christophe de Margerie’s contribution to international cultural exchange and humanitarian missions is hard to overestimate. It is not by chance that the programme of this concert features masterpieces of Russian and French music – Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and La Mer as well as Modest Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.
With these performances the Mariinsky Theatre’s musicians will draw to a close their tours to the Russian regions for 2014, the Year of Culture in Russia. During these tours the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of maestro Gergiev has performed in twenty-nine Russian cities from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, giving over fifty-five concerts, many of them with charitable aims and on an open-to-all basis.
Respected international publications have given rave reviews to the latest Mariinsky label release – an HD-format recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s legendary ballet Romeo and Juliet with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky
Respected international publications have given rave reviews to the latest Mariinsky label release – an HD-format recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s legendary ballet Romeo and Juliet with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky. This recording was produced at the historic Mariinsky Theatre in February-March 2013 and was released on the Mariinsky label in September this year. The lead roles are performed by Diana Vishneva (Juliet), Vladimir Shklyarov (Romeo), Alexander Sergeyev (Mercutio) and Ilya Kuznetsov (Tybalt). The Mariinsky Orchestra was conducted by Valery Gergiev. It was this production that opened the Mariinsky Ballet’s three-week tour last season to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (London). One British critic referred to Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Shklyarov’s performances as “enchanting” (The Telegraph).
Audiophile Audition magazine awarded the release its top rating of five stars: “Better image and sound than the MacMillan Royal Ballet production. I found the Mariinsky production paced very well, and was done with grace and beauty. All the dancers are strong and appropriate. Diana Vishneva as Juliette is especially beautiful and a wonderful actress as well. Altogether a great production that shines on Blu-ray.” (John Sunier)
“Every aspect of this production is as virtually flawless as a live performance can be. The power and energy generated from the pit is astounding and the picture is breathtakingly opulent. Enthusiastically recommended!” (Bruce Surtees, The WholeNote)
“The star of this Mariinsky Ballet DVD/Blu-ray two-disc set is one of the great ballerinas of our time, Diana Vishneva, and she’s the reason to buy it. Her Juliet is giddy, buoyant, luxuriant, and irrepressible, with the charisma of a silent-movie heroine. Then there’s Valery Gergiev, arguably the world’s most famous conductor, in the pit. Eschewing pretty and poetic, he gives us Prokofiev that’s passionate and even brusque. It’s breathless and often breathtaking stuff.” (Jeffrey Gantz, The Boston Globe)
“A new double play DVD and Blu-ray disc release on the Mariinsky label of a live recording of the Mariinsky Ballet in a performance of Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo & Juliet. Originally screened in cinemas, this new film stars Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Shklyarov, who dance in it as beautifully as they did during the opening night of the Mariinsky Baleet’s recent season at Covent Garden.” (Dancing Times)
George Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony returns to the Mariinsky Theatre’s repertoire
Scotch Symphony stands alone among George Balanchine’s countless productions. In most of his works he strove not to divert the audience’s attention from the actual dance with plots, elaborate costumes or sets, though here Balanchine dressed his dancers in kilts, hose and tartan berets, a picturesque romantic landscape serving as the backdrop.
The choreographer created this ballet in 1952 after returning from the Edinburgh Festival, inspired by the local colour and theatrical flavour of Scottish folk parades. Scotland plunged the ballet-master in recollections of the early ballet La Sylphide, the action of which unfolds in this famously romantic nation, and he resolved to bring back to the stage the atmosphere of this masterpiece of romantic ballet, the first ever homily to female classical dance so admired by Balanchine. Balanchine brought to life the poetry of romanticism with its ethereal sylphs in airy tunics against a background of richly coloured Scottish attire to music by another romantic – Felix Mendelssohn. Apropos, the composer, too, had been inspired to write his Third Symphony, the musical basis of the ballet, following a visit to Scotland. The impetuous tempi of the wind instruments and the scherzo that opens the ballet depict scenes of folk merriment and carefree skirls of the bagpipes; the meditative refrain theme of the violins in the lyrical movement plunges the audience into the melancholy gloom of ancient legends and traditions of this northern nation.
Immersed in this entourage of romanticism and in this combination of dance and music so natural for him, Balanchine remained totally confident in his own self. There is no storytelling with various peripeteia – rather there are merely prominent hints at the fact that the protagonists belong to different worlds – the physical and the fantastical. The virtuoso structure of the choreographic themes, the sparkle of fantasy in combination with elements of classical dance and choreographic allusions to masterpieces of romanticist masterpieces such as Giselle and La Sylphide are all strung together with the bead-like quality of the lifts and the songful flight of the adagios. Moreover, as in many of Balanchine’s ballets, the dance portraits of the ballerinas formed the choreographic narrative of Scotch Symphony. Balanchine created the solo in the first movement for Patricia Wilde, a caricature dancer who performed miracles of pointe technique and comet-like smaller movements. Maria Tallchief, another of the choreographer’s favourites, on seeing the start of the production (if the ballerina’s memories are to be believed) gave a passionate sigh as she hoped that this new ballet was for her. And then, in the second movement, Balanchine transposed his attention to her and was so enamoured with the airy and broad dance of Tallchief who experienced no technical difficulties at all that in the finale he actually created nothing whatsoever for Wilde.
Scotch Symphony was the first ballet by George Balanchine to enter the repertoire of the Mariinsky (then still the Kirov) Theatre. As far back as 1989 the choreographer’s favourite dancer Suzanne Farrell succeeded in making the Leningrad dancers produce Balanchine’s speed, precision of phrasing and unusually active use of the feet. Now, her one-time pupils are coaches of the present, teaching today’s performers the “patter” of the complex combinations of leaps and the intimate slowness of the elegiac passages “to dance the music”.
From 30 November to 4 December the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev will be performing a series of concerts of Russian music at major venues in Taiwan and China.
At the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center on 30 November the Mariinsky Orchestra will be presenting a programme of symphony music masterpieces by Russian composers. The concert will feature suites from the ballet Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov as well as Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
On 1 and 2 December maestro Gergiev will be conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra in two concerts in the capital of Taiwan, where there will be performances at the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei. The playbill for the first evening includes the overture from Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila, the suite from the ballet The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Schéhérazade.
The programme for the second concert includes Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. Moreover, the same evening, Mariinsky Orchestra musicians will be joined by the internationally renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who has previously worked with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev on numerous occasions. He will be performing the solo in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 17.
One key event of the tour will be a marathon-festival of music by Prokofiev which the Mariinsky Orchestra will present at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. At three concerts on 3 and 4 December there will be performances of all of Prokofiev’s symphonies and piano concerti. At the evening performances the Mariinsky Theatre under maestro Gergiev together with pianists Grace Fong, Alexei Volodin and Sergei Babayan will perform the First, Second and Seventh Symphonies and the First and Third Piano Concerti (3 December), followed by the Fourth and Sixth Symphonies and the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concerti (4 December).
At the matinee concert on 4 December Valery Gergiev will be conducting the Russo-Chinese Youth Orchestra. The programme includes the Third and Fifth Symphonies and the Second Piano Concerto. The piano solo will be performed by young Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang.
The Russo-Chinese Youth Orchestra was founded as part of a youth exchange programme between Russia and China that runs in 2014 and 2015, one of the aims of which is to increase contacts between students of both countries. The first performance by this ensemble which includes fifty Russian and sixty-three Chinese musicians took place under the baton of Valery Gergiev in March this year at the new Mariinsky Theatre (Mariinsky-II).
The performance of all of Prokofiev’s piano concerti and symphonies will continue a series of music cycles by Russian composers to whom the Mariinsky Theatre and Valery Gergiev are introducing audiences at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing – a vast cultural complex in the Chinese capital that houses several stage venues. In December 2007 during festivities to mark the opening of the centre, in the main theatre auditorium the Mariinsky Theatre presented Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. Subsequent appearances were made at the centre’s large concert hall; in September 2011 there was a performance of a series of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, while in September 2012 came four symphonies and piano concerti by Shostakovich followed in December 2013 by a marathon-festival of music by Stravinsky. Earlier this year there was a joint-Russo-Chinese production of Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin, the premiere of which was conducted by Valery Gergiev in February 2014 at the Mariinsky-II and in March 2014 at the large auditorium of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
This unparalleled marathon of piano concerti and symphonies by Prokofiev adds to the series of concerts commemorating the great 20t century Russian composer by the Mariinsky Orchestra – recently similar concerts have been held in Stockholm, Vienna, Dortmund and Cardiff, while in mid-December Valery Gergiev will be presenting a festival of music by Prokofiev in Rome.
The concerts of Russian music in Australia conducted by Valery Gergiev with Denis Matsuev and the London Symphony Orchestra have won tremendous praise from audiences
The concerts of Russian music in Australia conducted by Valery Gergiev with Denis Matsuev and the London Symphony Orchestra have won tremendous praise from audiences. Music critics, too, were unstinting in their appraisals, speaking of the “emotional”, “subtle” and surprisingly “focussed” performances of the musicians.
The newspaper The Australian referred to maestro Gergiev as “the world’s number-one conductor”, who “embodied the charisma, absolute power and danger that forms the flesh and blood of the Russian repertoire and makes up the essence of its musical DNA.” The publication particularly focussed on the performance of Dmitry Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony: “The orchestral tutti conjured up a reverential terror, the fortissimo literally wiping away everything in its path, and not so much because of the incredible power of the sound as because of its laser-like precision.” The critic noted the self-efficiency that the musicians employed at the concert in Brisbane: “And although Valery Gergiev has been Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra since 2007, there was an impression that this was their first appearance together, the sound of the orchestra was so searing, the emotions were so perturbing, that each musician, however far back they were sitting, played as if their lives depended upon it.”
The journalist of The Sydney Morning Herald focussed on Gergiev’s unique signature as a conductor: “He avoids extremes, giving his preference to deep concentration. Sometimes it is as if Gergiev specially mixes the colours of sound, though more frequently he demonstrates a caring and emotionally concentrated command of the full richness of the sound palette, restoring the necessary balance with the light flutter of his left hand or strengthening the weak parts with a lift of his shoulder and elbow in order to produce the necessary accent.” The publication commented on the maestro’s organisational skills as well as his ability to harmonise the musicians into the proper performing style: “Forcing a hundred people to perform as one is no easy task. Forcing them to change direction, tempo and mood so impetuously is something outstanding!”
The second Australian concert – held in Sydney – was awarded 4.5 stars by The Sydney Morning Herald. In his review, Peter McCallum comments on the interpretation of Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony (Classical): “The orchestra caught the subtle, deliberately Haydn-like style, performing the symphony with enchantingly precise spirit, without any shadow of distortion or exaggeration, with perfection of every phrase and ideal smoothness in the passages.” The critic also spoke of the dazzling performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka: “Where Stravinsky composed a complex and daringly chaotic fabric we see the vivid orchestral colours, particularly of the woodwind instruments. The most exotic solo parts of the flute, piano, squealing clarinets and trumpets sounded natural and resembled dancers filling the entire stage space with their gestures.”
The third concert in Australia conducted by Valery Gergiev was awarded a maximum five stars by The Sydney Morning Herald. The newspaper noted the performance “had not one false note” in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto: “It was one of the fastest performances of Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto: with the relentlessly fast fugue in the finale, moreover each orchestral section performing with laser-like precision.”
The publication The Australian also singled out Denis Matsuev’s interpretation of the Rachmaninoff concerto: “Avoiding strong percussive play, Matsuev dedicated particular attention to subtle nuances, which made the work sound even more dramatic. In the final chord he rose to his feet, and we, too, rose with him from our seats in amazement, as the mind is quite simply unable to take all of this in.”
On 25, 26 and 27 December 2014 the Mariinsky-II will be hosting the premiere performances of a new production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Golden Cockerel. In over a hundred years this is just the third production at the Petrograd-Leningrad-St Petersburg Theatre.
The opera was premiered in 1909 in Moscow at the Sergei Zimin Private Russian Opera, and was only staged at the Mariinsky Theatre ten years later in 1919; it was a production in the traditions of Russian fairy-tale opera. More than eighty years later, in 2003 the Mariinsky Theatre together with the Théâtre du Châtelet of Paris presented a kabuki-style project by a Japanese production team as part of a revival of the Saisons russes.
The current production of The Golden Cockerel marks the opera debut of Anna Matison, a playwright, script-writer, film director and producer. In this production she will be appearing as Stage Director and Production and Costume Designer. “In selecting the genre of the fairy-tale,” the stage director says, “I do not intend to experiment with it as a genre. It is a family story: for children it is a merry and vivid tale; for parents it is a wise parable.” The melodious nature, beauty and leitmotifs of the plot will be underscored by the production designs; the opera will use pantomime and masquerades, while the sets will use 3D format video projections.