Performance Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | 8 PM

Mariinsky Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Rachmaninoff was widely considered to be as fine a pianist as he was a composer, expanding the expressive possibilities of the instrument in music that require formidable technique. Acclaimed Russian pianist Denis Matsuev joins the Mariinsky Orchestra to tackle one of these works—the rapturous Third Piano Concerto, notorious among performers for its technical and musical demands. Under the baton of Valery Gergiev, the orchestra also performs Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, a glorious fusion of fatalism with rhythmic vivacity and lush melodies tinged with nostalgia for the composer’s native Russia.


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


  • RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3
  • RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances

  • Encores:
  • RACHMANINOFF Etude-tableau in A Minor, Op. 39, No. 2
  • DENIS MATSUEV Improvisation
  • WAGNER Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin

Event Duration

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


  • Mariinsky Orchestra

    The Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre 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 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.

    The success of the orchestra's frequent tours has created the reputation of what one journalist referred to as "the world's first global orchestra."  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 Hector 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 15 CDs, including Shostakovich's piano concertos nos. 1 and 2; symphonies nos. 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, and 15; and The Nose. The orchestra has also recorded Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture; Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer and Piano Concerto No. 5; Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Les noces; Wagner's Parsifal; and Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; as well as DVDs/Blu-rays of Tchaikovsky's symphonies nos. 4, 5, and 6 and George Balanchine's ballet Jewels. Releases for 2012 include Massenet's Don Quichotte.

    Valery Gergiev 

    A prominent figure in all the world's major concert halls, 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 more than 45 countries, garnishing universal acclaim. Maestro Gergiev's 25 years of leadership have also resulted in the building of the Mariinsky Concert Hall (2006) and the new Mariinsky II theater (2013) 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 inaugural international tour of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, an orchestra founded by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. In 2016, he will assume the post of principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. He also is 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 a Mahler symphony cycle, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Massenet's Don Quichotte, Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer, Wagner's Parsifal and Die Walküre, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7.

    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.

    Mr. Gergiev's 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.

    More Info

  • Denis Matsuev

    Denis Matsuev has been a fast-rising star on the international concert stage since his triumphant victory at the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1998. He has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation.

    Mr. Matsuev has collaborated with the world's best-known orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestre national de France, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de Paris, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Symphony, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He is continually engaged with legendary Russian orchestras, including the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Mariinsky Orchestra.

    Mr. Matsuev's worldwide festival appearances include Leipzig's Mendelssohn and Schumann festivals, Poland's International Chopin Piano Festival, Italy's Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and MITO SettembreMusica, France's Les Chorégies d'Orange, Switzerland's Verbier Festival, Romania's George Enescu Festival, and the Ravinia Festival in the US.

    Over the past four years, Mr. Matsuev has collaborated with the Sergei Rachmaninoff Foundation and its president, Alexander Rachmaninoff who is the composer's grandson. Mr. Matsuev was chosen by the foundation to perform and record unknown pieces by Rachmaninoff on the composer's own piano at the Rachmaninoff house, "Villa Senar," in Lucerne.

    Mr. Matsuev is artistic director of two important festivals: Stars on Baikal in Irkutsk, Siberia, and Crescendo, a series of events held in many different international cities, such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Tel Aviv, Kaliningrad, Paris, and New York City. These remarkable festivals present a new generation of students from Russia's music schools by featuring gifted Russian soloists from around the world performing with the best Russian orchestras.

    More Info

At a Glance

This evening's concert features two works by Rachmaninoff: a massive virtuoso concerto he wrote for himself to perform in America before his emigration, and a late piece that reprises a number of his signatures even as it stakes out new territory. The Third Piano Concerto is overtly passionate and fiendishly difficult, but also full of subtle touches, including a surprisingly spare main theme and a satisfying cyclical structure. A daunting challenge for any pianist, it has dense orchestral writing that shows off the orchestra as well. The Symphonic Dances inhabit the twilight world of Rachmaninoff's final period when he was a lonely exile in America. Romantic in sensibility yet spiked with harmonic ambiguity, it is one of Rachmaninoff's most original scores, combining dancelike exuberance with haunting nostalgia.


Program Notes