The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Vasily Petrenko immerse audiences in the music of St. Petersburg during BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto on June 9 and 11 at Heinz Hall.
During the 2016-2017 season, the Pittsburgh Symphony explored the music of some of the world’s great musical cities. Petrenko, who is chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool and Oslo Philharmonic, leads the orchestra on its last “stop” — St. Petersburg, Russia.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 was written in 1943, at a turning point in World War II. Although a great sense of achievement and pride spread across his nation, Shostakovich was not so optimistic, fearing that this would give further rise to Stalin. As a result, the symphony ends with a less-than-hopeful tone, which left it unpopular and useless for propaganda purposes, it remains one of Shostakovich’s great artistic achievements.
Making his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony this weekend, Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov performs Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s much-loved Piano Concerto No. 1. The concerto had its Russian premiere in St. Petersburg in November 1875 and has one of the most iconic openings of any classical work. (This work became the first piece of classical music to sell more than a million records with pianist Van Cliburn’s 1958 recording.)
A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders, with Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco will occur on stage one hour before each concert. The Steinway Young Artists will perform in the Grand Lobby, beginning one hour before the concert start time, on Friday and Sunday. Both pre-concert presentations are free and open to ticketholders.
A post-concert chamber ensemble performance on stage will follow the Friday evening concert only. Kelsey Blumenthal and Marta Krechkovsky, violins, and Dimitri Papadimitriou, piano, will perform Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano. This performance is free to ticketholders.
Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Tchaik1 and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 9 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 11. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, are available through the Heinz Hall Box Office in person, by phone at 412-392-4900 or online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Tchaik1.
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2016-2017 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM 89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
About the Artists
VASILY PETRENKO was born in 1976 and started his music education at the St. Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – the oldest music school in Russia. He then studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire and also has participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons and Yuri Temirkanov. Following considerable success in a number of international conducting competitions including the Fourth Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg (2003), First Prize in the Shostakovich Choral Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg (1997) and First Prize in the Sixth Cadaques International Conducting Competition in Spain, he was appointed chief conductor of the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2007.
Petrenko is chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (appointed in 2013-2014), chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (a position he adopted in 2009 as a continuation of his period as principal conductor that commenced in 2006), chief conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra (since 2015) and principal guest conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (since 2016). Petrenko also has served as principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain from 2009 to 2013, and principal guest conductor of the Mikhailovsky Theatre (formerly the Mussorgsky Memorial Theatre of the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet) where he began his career as resident conductor from 1994 to 1997.
Petrenko has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, Russian National Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, NHK Symphony Tokyo and Sydney Symphony. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival with the Oslo Philharmonic and the Grafenegg Festival with the European Union Youth Orchestra and the State Academic Symphony of Russia, and made frequent appearances at the BBC Proms. Recent years have seen a series of highly successful North American debuts, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montreal and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, and appearances at the Aspen and Ravinia summer festivals.
Highlights of the 2016-2017 season and beyond include Petrenko’s tours with the European Union Youth Orchestra as chief conductor, dates in Europe and Asia with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and complete cycles of the Beethoven Symphonies in both Liverpool and Oslo. He makes return visits to the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne in Europe and, further afield, to San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, Minnesota Orchestra and the Los Angeles and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras. Petrenko will make his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival.
Equally at home in the opera house, and with more than 30 operas in his repertoire, Petrenko made his debuts in 2010 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Macbeth) and the Opera de Paris (Eugene Onegin), and in recent seasons has also conducted Pique Dame at Hamburg State Opera, Boris Godunov at the National Reisopera, Eugene Onegin, La Bohème and Carmen at the Mikhailovsky Theatre and Carmen at the Zurich Opera, Tosca and Parsifal with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Der fliegende Holländer with the Oslo Philharmonic and at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. Last year saw a highly successful debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper with Boris Godunov, and future plans include performances of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Zurich Opera.
Petrenko has established a strongly defined profile as a recording artist. His Shostakovich symphony cycle for Naxos Records with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (collated as a boxset in autumn 2015) has garnered worldwide acclaim, and his has been documented in award-winning surveys of Rachmaninov’s symphonies, orchestral works and complete piano concertos with Simon Trpceski, Tchaikovsky’s piano concertos and Manfred (winner of the 2009 Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording), works by Offenbach, Higdon and Tavener, Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 and Cockaigne Overture for Onyx Records. Last year also saw the release of the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies on Onyx. With the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra he has released the Shostakovich cello concertos with Truls Mork (Ondine), the Szymanowski violin concertos with Baiba Skride (Orfeo), and the first installment in a cycle of Scriabin’s symphonies, and in autumn 2016 Lawo Classics will release Prokofiev’s complete Romeo and Juliet ballet.
In October 2007, Petrenko was named Young Artist of the Year at the annual Gramophone Awards, and in 2010 he won the Male Artist of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. He is only the second person to have been awarded honorary doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University (in 2009), and an honorary fellowship of the Liverpool John Moores University (in 2012), awards that recognize the immense impact he has had on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the city’s cultural scene.
Described by The Times as the “master of all he surveys” and with The Washington Post noting to “keep your ear on this one,” BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV’s captivating performances continue to receive international praise.
Recent seasons have seen Abduraimov work with leading orchestras worldwide, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, NHK Symphony and Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestras, and prestigious conductors including Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Manfred Honeck, Vasily Petrenko, James Gaffigan, Jakub Hrusa, Thomas Dausgaard and Vladimir Jurowski. Last season, he made his debut with the Münchner Philharmoniker under Gergiev featuring in their new 360-degree festival and subsequently made his BBC Proms debut with them.
Upcoming European highlights include the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester as part of the Elb Philharmonie opening, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and further afield he will work with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital Abduraimov is one of the featured artists for the Junge Wilde series at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, he appears at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and returns to the Verbier Festival and La Roque d’Anthéron.
In North America, Abduraimov will perform in recital at the Stern Auditorium following his debut success at Carnegie Hall in 2015, as well as for the Cliburn Concerts, Carolina Performing Arts, the Vancouver Recital series and concerts with Houston and Pittsburgh, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Minnesota Orchestra, among others. He has recently appeared at the Aspen Music Festival and with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony and Seattle Symphony.
In 2017, Abduraimov will tour to Asia for performances with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, Beijing and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and also embark upon a recital tour of Australia.
An award-winning recording artist – his debut recital CD won both the Choc de Classica and the Diapason Découverte – Abduraimov released his first concerto disc in 2014 on Decca Classics which features Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No.1 with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai under Juraj Valčuha.
Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1990, Behzod began to play the piano at the age of five as a pupil of Tamara Popovich at Uspensky State Central Lyceum in Tashkent. He is an alumnus of Park University’s International Center for Music where he studied with Stanislav Ioudenitch, and now serves as the ICM’s artist-in-residence.
The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.
HEINZ HALL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.
Editors Please Note:
Friday, June 9, at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 11 at 2:30 p.m.
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto
VASILY PETRENKO, conductor
BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV, piano
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 23
I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso
II. Andantino semplice
III. Allegro con fuoco
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Opus 65
I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
III. Allegro non troppo