Performance Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | 8 PM

Mariinsky Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
A powerful wartime symphony is the centerpiece of this program of Russian music from the imperial and Soviet eras. Prokofiev wrote his Symphony No. 5 in the summer of 1944 when Soviet victory was imminent and called it “a symphony of the grandeur of the human spirit.” While not as well-known as his first, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto has much of the same singing lyricism and virtuosity as its popular predecessor. Dazzlingly orchestrated and bubbling with wit, Shchedrin’s Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, "Naughty Limericks," is a boisterous curtain raiser.

The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • Mariinsky Orchestra
    Valery Gergiev, Music Director and Conductor
  • Denis Matsuev, Piano


  • SHCHEDRIN Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, "Naughty Limericks"
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 2
  • PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5

  • Encores:
  • RACHMANINOFF Etude-tableau in A Minor, Op. 39, No. 2
  • SCRIABIN Etude in D-sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 12
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Adagio from "Grand Pas de Deux" from The Nutcracker

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Mariinsky Orchestra

    The Mariinsky Orchestra enjoys a long and distinguished history as one of the oldest musical institutions in Russia. Founded in the 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great and housed in St. Petersburg's famed Mariinsky Theatre since 1860,
    the orchestra now also performs in its superb 21st-century concert hall (2006) and its second opera house (2013), built with modern stage technologies. The orchestra entered its "golden age" in the second half of the 19th century under the musical direction of Eduard Nápravník, whose leadership for more than a half-century (1863-1916) secured its reputation as one of the finest in Europe. Numerous internationally famed musicians have conducted the orchestra, among them Hans von Bülow, Felix Mottl, Felix Weingartner, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Otto Nikisch, Willem Mengelberg, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, Erich Kleiber, Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, and Arnold Schoenberg.

    Renamed the Kirov during the Soviet era, the orchestra continued to maintain its high artistic standards under the leadership of Yevgeny Mravinsky and Yuri Temirkanov. The leadership of Valery Gergiev has enabled the Mariinsky Theatre to forge important relationships for the Mariinsky Ballet and Opera to appear in the world's greatest opera houses and theaters, among them the Metropolitan Opera; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; San Francisco Opera; Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; the Salzburg Festival; and La Scala in Milan.

    Since its US debut in 1992, the orchestra has made 17 tours of North America, including a 2006 celebration of the complete Shostakovich symphonies, a cycle of Prokofiev's stage works in 2008, major works of Berlioz in February and March 2010, and a centennial Mahler cycle at Carnegie Hall in October 2010. The following year, the Mariinsky Orchestra opened Carnegie Hall's 2011-2012 season with a cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies, which the ensemble also performed on tour throughout the US and in Canada.

    Maestro Gergiev established the Mariinsky Label in 2009 and has since released more than 20 recordings that have received critical acclaim in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

    Valery Gergiev

    Valery Gergiev is the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, and since 1988 has taken the Mariinsky ballet, opera, and orchestra ensembles to nearly 50 countries. His 25 years of leadership have also resulted in the building of the Mariinsky Concert Hall (2006), the founding of the Mariinsky Label (2009), and the new Mariinsky II (2013) theater alongside the classic Mariinsky Theatre.

    Principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra since 2007, Mr. Gergiev performs with the LSO at the Barbican Centre, BBC Proms, and Edinburgh International Festival, as well as on extensive tours of Europe, North America, and Asia. In July 2013, he led the debut international tour of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, an orchestra founded by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, and in the fall of 2016, he assumes the post of principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Gergiev is also founder and artistic director of the Stars of the White Nights Festival and the New Horizons Festival in St. Petersburg, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev Festival, the Mikkeli Music Festival, and the Red Sea Classical Music Festival in Israel, as well as principal conductor of the World Orchestra for Peace.

    Mr. Gergiev's record releases with the Mariinsky Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra continually win awards in Europe, Asia, and America. Recent releases include Tchaikovsky's Piano Concertos nos. 1 and 2; Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3, Symphony No. 5, and Romeo and Juliet; Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on Bald Mountain, and Songs and Dances of Death; Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem; and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Harold en Italie, and La mort de Cléopâtre.

    Mr. Gergiev has led numerous composer-centered concert cycles in New York, London, and other international cities, including ones focused on Berlioz, Brahms, Dutilleux, Mahler, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner. He has introduced audiences around the world to several rarely performed Russian operas.

    His many awards include the Dmitri Shostakovich Award, the Netherlands' Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion, Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, and the French Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur.

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  • Denis Matsuev

    Denis Matsuev has enjoyed a stellar career since his triumphant victory in the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and is now one of the most sought-after musicians of his generation. He appears regularly with world-famous orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has successful creative partnerships with the world's most prominent conductors, including Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Myung-Whun Chung, Zubin Mehta, and Yuri Temirkanov. In 2014, Mr. Matsuev performed excerpts from Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto for millions of spectators around the globe as part of the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

    At the invitation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's grandson Alexander Rachmaninoff, Mr. Matsuev has collaborated with the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation, performing and recording unknown pieces by Rachmaninoff on the composer's own piano at his house in Lucerne, known as Villa Senar. Mr. Matsuev has since become the foundation's artistic director. He also is president of the Russian charitable foundation New Names, which discovers and supports young musical talent and develops music education programs throughout regions of his native Russia.

    Mr. Matsuev is the recipient of awards that include the Presidential Council for Culture and Art's Honored Artist of Russia, the prestigious Shostakovich Prize in Music, and the State Prize of the Russian Federation in Literature and Arts. He is a People's Artist of Russia and was recently appointed head of the Public Council under the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. In April 2014, UNESCO designated Mr. Matsuev as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

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Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 (III. Allegro con fuoco)
Denis Matsuev, Piano | Mariinsky Orchestra

At a Glance

This colorful and varied Russian program presents a powerful wartime Prokofiev work that is one of the most popular 20th-century symphonies, as well as two pieces that are rarely heard. Rodion Shchedrin’s Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, “Naughty Limericks,” is what its title implies: a racy, fun-filled romp. Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto has all the melodic richness and bravura display one would expect from this popular composer, but offers sumptuous treats the listener has probably not enjoyed before given how rarely this work is performed.
Program Notes
This concert is underwritten by Yoko Nagae Ceschina.
This performance is part of Russian Romance, and International Festival of Orchestras III.

Part of