Performance Saturday, February 15, 2014 | 8 PM

St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
There’s something particularly exhilarating about seeing a legendary Russian orchestra unleash the full power and passion of the great Russian masterworks. The works featured on this program by fellow countrymen Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff are at the core of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s identity, flowing through their veins like lifeblood, with their gripping interpretations captivating audiences worldwide.


  • St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
    Yuri Temirkanov, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor
  • Julia Fischer, Violin


  • PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2
  • RACHMANINOFF Symphony No. 2

  • Encores:
  • HINDEMITH Finale from Solo Violin Sonata in G Minor, Op. 11, No. 6
  • ELGAR Salut d'amour, Op. 12
  • STRAVINSKY "Vivo" from Pulcinella Suite

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.


  • St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

    The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra-Russia's first symphony orchestra-traces its history to 1882, when it was founded on the order of Alexander III as the Court Musicians' Choir. At the beginning of the 20th century, the choir performed the symphonic poems Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, Mahler's First Symphony, Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy, and Stravinsky's Symphony in E-flat Major for the first time in Russia. In those years, the orchestra was conducted by Arthur Nikisch, Richard Strauss, Alexander Glazunov, and Serge Koussevitzky. Beginning in 1921, the orchestra made its home at the Nobility Assembly Hall, where it welcomed such conductors as Bruno Walter, Felix Weingartner, Hermann Abendroth, Oskar Fried, Erich Kleiber, Pierre Monteux, and Otto Klemperer, as well as soloists Vladimir Horowitz and Jascha Heifetz. Shostakovich and Prokofiev also performed with the orchestra.

    In 1934, the orchestra was awarded the title Honored Orchestra of the Republic, and in 1938, it began a half-century that is referred to as the "Age of Mravinsky"-years of hard work with maestro Evgeny Mravinsky that earned the orchestra a place among the most prominent of the world. Since 1946-which marked the orchestra's first historical trip abroad-the St. Petersburg Philharmonic has regularly toured internationally.

    Since 1988, Yuri Temirkanov has led the orchestra. Recently, the orchestra has been ranked in the top 20 orchestras in the world (according to Gramophone magazine); has toured Europe, Asia, and America; and participated in the Lucerne Festival, Festival Internazionale della Musica Torino Milano, Verbier Festival, and Annecy Classic Festival.

    Yuri Temirkanov

    Yuri Temirkanov, artistic director of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, celebrates a double anniversary during the 2013-2014 season: his 75th birthday and his 25th year as conductor of the celebrated orchestra.

    Mr. Temirkanov is recognized as one of the leaders of the world's conducting elite, and famous orchestras around the globe have been inviting the maestro to collaborate with them for more than three decades. From 1979-1998, Mr. Temirkanov worked with London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as principal guest conductor and from 1992 onward as principal conductor. He also directed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (2000-2006) and was principal guest conductor of the Dresdner Philharmonie (1992-1997) and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (1998-2008).

    However, Mr. Temirkanov's home has always been and still remains St. Petersburg. In 1967, as a graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory (having studied with Ilya Musin) and as the winner of the All-Union Conductors' Competition, he performed in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonia for the first time. A year later, the 29-year-old Temirkanov conducted the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra (now the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra). Collaboration strengthened the reputation of both the conductor and the orchestra, and in 2005, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic became the first Russian orchestra to open Carnegie Hall's concert season.

    Mr. Temirkanov believes that the life of a musician is not confined to the concert stage and has therefore established the Maestro Temirkanov International Foundation for Cultural Initiatives. Among the foundation's projects are the Evgeny Kolobov Foundation for musicians of the Moscow New Opera Theater, as well as scholarships for students of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and the Central Special Music School.

    For more than a decade, Mr. Temirkanov has directed the Arts Square Winter Festival, which, along with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, involves the Mikhailovsky Theatre, the St. Petersburg Theater of Musical Comedy, and the Russian Museum. Unique in its concept, the festival gathers artists of the highest caliber, confirming the status of St. Petersburg as one of the cultural capitals of Europe.

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  • Julia Fischer

    German violinist Julia Fischer is acknowledged worldwide as an exceptionally gifted artist of uncommon ability, a recognition that is reflected in the numerous awards and effusive reviews she has received for both her live performances and recordings, including being named Artist of the Year by Gramophone magazine in 2007 and Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2009 Marché International du Disque et de l'Édition Musicale.

    Ms. Fischer opened the 2013-2014 season with a tour through Germany with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. As artist in residence at the Dresdner Philharmonie, she performs the Brahms Violin Concerto and Triple Concerto under the baton of Michael Sanderling, tours Asia with the orchestra, and appears in chamber concerts throughout the season. In November and December, Ms. Fischer appeared in recitals in major European venues that included London's Wigmore Hall, Vienna's Musikverein, Brussels's Palais des Beaux-Arts, and Berlin's Philharmonie, among others. In the United States, she performs with The Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony with music directors Franz Welser-Möst and Michael Tilson Thomas, respectively.

    A highlight of Ms. Fischer's 2012-2013 season was her April 2013 debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, playing the Beethoven and Salonen violin concertos. Coinciding with Decca's release of her recording of Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and Dvořák's Violin Concerto in spring 2013, Ms. Fischer embarked on a tour of Germany with the Tonhalle-Orchestra Zurich and David Zinman. Two years earlier, she made her acclaimed debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle at the Salzburg Easter Festival.

    Born in Munich, Ms. Fischer began studying the violin at age three and soon thereafter started taking piano lessons. Throughout her career, Ms. Fischer has always maintained her piano studies. In 2008, she made her professional piano debut at the Alte Oper Frankfurt, performing Grieg's Piano Concerto with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and conductor Matthias Pintscher. On the same program, she performed Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3. A DVD of this concert was released by Decca in September 2010.

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Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 (Allegro molto)
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra | Yuri Temirkanov, Conductor

At a Glance

This concert pairs two 20th-century Russian masterpieces by composers who have always enjoyed great popularity with the public, if not always with critics. These works provide a strong contrast, both in sensibility and orchestration—one an example of an international style embraced by several mid-century Russian composers, the other an uninhibited tribute to the composer's homeland. Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto has a lean neoclassicism that became all the rage in the 1920s with composers like Stravinsky and Hindemith, a trend that Prokofiev anticipated in his early "Classical" Symphony. Despite the concerto's elegant restraint, both in its attitude toward the soloist and its lean orchestration, it is nonetheless full of memorable melodies. Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony is more over-the-top, indeed the most sumptuous of the composer's three works in the form. The orchestration is lush, the melodies and harmonies more distinctively Russian. It is a grandiose summation of Rachmaninoff's aesthetic before he moved to the United States.
Program Notes