The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the oldest orchestras in the world, traces its origins to the middle of the 16th century. At different times the Staatskapelle was headed by famous musicians, such as Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolph Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner; in the 20th and 21st centuries – by conductors Fritz Reiner, Karl Böhm, Herbert Blomstedt, Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Bernard Haitink. The Staatskapelle Dresden has a many-year-long connection to Richard Strauss; nine of the composer’s operas were premiered at the Semperoper with the participation of the ensemble. The orchestra still takes part in the Semperoper productions recordings, tours abroad, and releases music. Recent additions include DVD and BluRay versions of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin (featuring Anna Netrebko) and Die Walküre performances from the 2017 Salzburg Easter Festival.
Since 2012 Christian Thielemann has been chief conductor of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. He started his career working as Herbert von Karajan's assistant; he went on to become Generalmusikdirektor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Thielemann has collaborated with many symphony and opera ensembles, including the Munich Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. Christian Thielemann’s core repertoire consists of German and Austrian Romantic music. His performances of Richard Wagner’s operas (including the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen) and those of Richard Strauss were critically acclaimed. Thielemann has been a regular at the Bayreuth Festival and the Salzburg Festival. Apart from operas, the conductor has recorded all of Ludwig van Beethoven’s and Robert Schumann’s symphonies, orchestra pieces and fragments from operas by Weber, Lortzing, Brahms, Bruckner, Pfitzner, Schoenberg and other composers.
The programme for the Mariinsky Theatre performance also features German music of the 19th century. The concert will open with the overture to the opera Oberon, which is the last opera of Carl Maria von Weber. Denis Matsuev, who has held the honorary position of artist-in-residence at the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden since October 2017, will be the featured soloist for the virtuoso Piano Concerto No. 2 by Franz Liszt. This season the Russian pianist has already performed with the orchestra at the Semperoper multiple times. The second part of the concert will see the performance of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, which is one of the pieces concluding the multi-year tradition of the Austrian-German Romantic symphonism.