Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic return to San Francisco

Yuri Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra – courtesy Opus 3 Artists

As part of its Great Performers series, the San Francisco Symphony welcomes back to Davies Symphony Hall the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Yuri Temirkanov. Maestro Temirkanov leads the Orchestra in two programs – the first featuring selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and his Violin Concerto No 2 – with Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji – and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No 2. The second program opens with Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1 – with guest artist Garrick Ohlsson – followed by the Shostakovich Symphony No 5.

In 1999, Sayaka Shoji was the first Japanese, and youngest ever winner of the Paganini Competition. According to Gramophone magazine, Sayaka Shoji “isn’t merely a superb technician, she’s a deeply engaging performer. Her richly resonant, spirited sound is impressive and so, too, is the poetic delicacy of her phrasing.” The New York Times refers to her “impressive poise, [and] refined technique”, and The Sunday Times writes of her “Passionate, free, almost improvisatory virtuosity of the highest order”.

Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji – © Masato Moriyama

Ms Shoji regularly performs with conductors as illustrious as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Semyon Bychkov, Paavo Järvi, Myung-Whun Chung, Sir Antonio Pappano and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and she also appears in recital and as a chamber musician with artists such as Joshua Bell, Vadim Repin, Itamar Golan, Steven Isserlis and Lang Lang. Highlights of this current season include Ms Shoji’s debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and appearances with Osmo Vänskä and l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to Garrick Ohlsson’s reputation as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Chopin – he won the Gold Medal in the 1970 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the only American to have achieved this – he commands a wide repertoire of works for the piano. This season sees Mr Ohlsson performing works by Rachmaninoff (Piano Concertos Nos 3 and 4), Brahms (Nos 1 and 2), and works by Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg and Copland, appearing in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, Miami, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Liverpool and Madrid. The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to him as “an elegant guest with the Philadelphia Orchestra”, adding that he “made a marvelous Mozartian”.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson – © Paul Body

Mr Ohlsson is also a frequent and enthusiastic recitalist, having appeared with ensembles such as the Takacs, Cleveland, Emerson and Tokyo string quartets, and is a founding member – with violinist Jorja Fleezanis and cellist Michael Grebanier – of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio.

The St Petersburg Philharmonic, described by The Washington Post as “the national treasure of Russia”, and by Le Figaro as “the crowning glory of Russian culture”, is the leading orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonia which was founded in 1882 following a decree by Alexander III. Initially known as the Court Choir of St Petersburg, the orchestra became known as the Court Orchestra at the beginning of the 20th Century, was renamed the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Petrograd in 1917, and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in the mid-1920s. It wasn’t until 1991 that the ensemble took the name of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

During the 2015-16 season, the Orchestra, under Maestro Temirkanov, toured widely, appearing in concert halls which included La Scala, Milan, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Théâtre des Champs Elysees in Paris, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Música, Jurmala’s Dzintari Concert Hall, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the Beijing Concert Hall in the Forbidden City, where the musicians performed as part of the the project Day of Russia in the World. This season sees Yuri Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic performing in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain and the USA, with the honor of appearing at the Gala Opening of the VIII Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival, at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, on March 27.

Yuri Temirkanov – Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra – courtesy IMG Artists

Yuri Temirkanov took up the role of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 1988, following the 50-year tenure of Evgeny Mravinsky who had led the Orchestra from 1938. Maestro Temirkanov’s name is associated with the beginning of the revival of the Mariinsky (formerly the Kirov) Theatre, serving as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor from 1976-1988. He was Chief Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra between 1979 and 1998, and also Principal Conductor from 1992 to 1998. He served as Chief Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra (1992-1997), as Chief Guest Conductor of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1998-2008), and led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 2000- 2006.

Maestro Temirkanov – recipient of over 33 honors and awards – is also currently Music Director of Teatro Regio di Parma, Music Director Emeritus of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Honorary Conductor of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.  Le Monde has compared his conducting to “a magical immersion into a world that would have been lost to us, if not for the great conductor, one of the last giants of the last century”.

Yuri Temirkanov leads the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of works by Prokofiev and Ravel – with guest soloist Sayaka Shoji – at Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday, March 19. For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

On Monday, March 20, the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Maestro Temirkanov present a program of works by Brahms and Shostakovich – guest artist Garrick Ohlsson – at Davies Symphony Hall.  More information can be found on the San Francisco Symphony website.


Program notes:

Romeo and Juliet

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No 2

Brahms Piano Concerto No 1



San Francisco Symphony

The St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Yuri Temirkanov

Sayaka Shoji

Garrick Ohlsson

Mstistlav Rostropovich Festival


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