Orozco-Estrada leads SF Symphony in all-Russian program with Denis Kozhukhin

Conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads the San Francisco Symphony – Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada makes his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in two Russian masterworks at Davies Symphony Hall this week – the notoriously challenging Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 2, with guest pianist Denis Kozhukhin, and Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous Second Symphony.

Born in Colombia and trained in Vienna – where he now resides – Andrés Orozco-Estrada rose to international prominence in 2004, leading the Tonkünstler Orchestra Niederösterreich in a performance at the Vienna Musikverein. Not only was this followed by engagements with many international orchestras, but it resulted in the formation of a highly successful relationship with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, where Maestro Orozco-Estrada served as Music Director from the 2009-10 season for four years.

In September 2014 he took up the roles of Music Director of the Houston Symphony, and Chief Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the latter appointment prompting the Darmstädter Echo to comment that the Orchestra had found “a conductor who equally values achieving tonal finesse and unleashing the epic nature of the music. The result – a narrative force which captures the listener from the very first bars”.

According to the Kölner Stadtanzeiger in June the following year, “Orozco-Estrada blends blazing musical impulse with the utmost alertness to every orchestral detail”, and the Kölner Stadtanzeiger wrote that it was obvious that he delights in making music. “His elegant rippling motions and vehement gripping gestures are fiery and inspiring.”

Since the 2015-16 season, Andrés Orozco-Estrada has also been the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This season sees his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, and tours to Budapest, Warsaw, Monte Carlo, the Dresden Music Festival, and across Spain. He accompanies the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia on their first European tour, and will also tour Europe with the Houston Symphony in its European debut.

Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin – Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin made his first appearance in San Francisco in 2014, with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Great Performers Series, and this week he makes his debut appearances with the Symphony itself. Having won the Prix d’Honneur at the Verbier Festival in 2003, he has since appeared at a number of the world’s leading festivals and concert halls, among them the Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Berliner Philharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Milan, Théâtre du Châtelet and Auditorium du Louvre Paris.

Denis Kozhukin’s performance of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 2 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Emmanuel Krivine, was met with rave reviews. According to the Chicago Tribune last November, his “dazzling performance … must have lifted Orchestra Hall a few feet off its foundation.…  Even in a day when keyboard virtuosos are thick on the ground, Kozhukhin is special.”

The Chicago Classical Review described him as “one of the most technically equipped pianists of our time, and he romped through the myriad challenges and digital landmines of this score with remarkable accuracy and finesse… The concluding pages were simply spellbinding, Kozhukhin throwing off Prokofiev’s spiky virtuosity at a speed that often left his hands a blur.”

Highlights of Denis Kozhukhin’s current season include appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Philadelphia Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Also an enthusiastic chamber musician, Denis Kozhukhin has worked with artists of the calibre of Leonidas Kavakos, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Janine Jansen, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, the Jerusalem Quartet, the Pavel Haas Quartet, Radovan Vlatkovic, Jörg Widmann, Emmanuel Pahud and Alisa Weilerstein.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads the San Francisco Symphony in the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 2 – with guest soloist Denis Kozhukhin – and the Rachmaninoff Symphony No 2, at Davies Symphony Hall from April 19 to 22. For more information and tickets visit the San Francisco Symphony website


Artists’ websites:

Andrés Orozco-Estrada

Denis Kozhukhin

San Francisco Symphony program notes by James M Keller:

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 2

Rachmaninoff Symphony No 2


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