St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra traces its history back to 1931. For more than two decades, the orchestra’s activity was linked with the Leningrad Radio – at first a concert orchestra, then as a large Symphony Orchestra. Working in live broadcast, the musicians mastered a diverse repertoire. The orchestra, firstly led by H. Unger, then I. Alterman, went on to work with the following conductors: O.Fried, F.Stiedry, A.Gauk, V.Dranishnikov, N.Golovanov, E.Mravinsky, I.Musin, B.Khaikin, E.Grikurov, K.Eliasberg, N.Rabinovich, K.Kondrashin.
During the war, the Leningrad Radio Symphony was the only orchestra that remained in the besieged city. Despite the fact that in the first winter of the war the orchestra actually ceased to exist, in August 1942, headed by K.Eliasberg it performed the Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. Currently, critics argue that “the performance by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra can be called highly authentic: there is a feeling that the musicians have inherited from the older generation the tradition of orchestral performance of the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony”. (Tianjin Daily, 2015). Altogether, the orchestra performed more than 300 times during the blockade and some concerts – including the premiere of the “Leningrad” symphony – were held in the Grand Philharmonic Hall.
In 1953, the orchestra received the status of a Philharmonic. Between 1962–1963, Stravinsky and Britten both performed their compositions with the orchestra. Associate conductors of the orchestra included Serge Baudo, Igor Markevitch, Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel, along with the soloists including Van Cliburn, Sviatoslav Richter and Yehudi Menuhin. In 1968, the orchestra was headed by Yuri Temirkanov. The conductor initiated a rapid growth of the orchestra’s repertoire, which played a crucial role in gaining their recognition abroad.
Since 1977, Alexander Dmitriev has led the orchestra. During this phase of the orchestra’s history, it was awarded the title “Academic” and gave premiere performances in St Petersburg of works by Handel, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Schreker, Honegger, Tippett, Orff, Dutilleux, Arvo Pärt, Schnittke, Nono, Ligeti, Adams, Crumb, Piazzolla as well as Leningrad – St Petersburg composers. The orchestra recorded all the symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, Ravel and Britten.
The orchestra takes part in prestigious international festivals and tours throughout Europe, Asia and America. Recently is has appeared in the UK (London, Manchester, Edinburgh), in China (Beijing, Shanghai) and Israel (Tel Aviv) to great critical acclaim. The orchestra has collaborated with pianists B. Douglas, V. Feltsman and P. Osetinskaya; violinist S. Chang, cellist A. Rudin and trumpeter S. Nakaryakov.
The Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg, Alexander Dmitriev, was born into a family of native residents of St Petersburg, where his father had worked in the E.Mravinsky’s orchestra for more than 30 years. He graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory as a choral conductor (Class of E.Kudryavtseva) and as a theorist (class of Y.Tyulin), after which the musician continued his studies in graduate school (class of N.Rabinovich in symphonic conducting).
For 10 years (1961-1971), he led the Symphony Orchestra of the Karelian Radio and Television. During this period, he won the II All-Union Conductors’ Competition (1966), completed an internship at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts under the guidance of H.Swarovsky and K.Österreicher and then, at the invitation of E.Mravinsky, continued with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and toured in Poland, Romania and Japan.
In addition, he performed with the orchestras of the GDR (Staatskapelle and Opera in Berlin, the Dresden (Saxony) Staatskapelle, as well as orchestras in France, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg. During 1971-1977, he was the Chief Conductor of the Leningrad Maly Theatre of Opera and Ballet (now the Mikhailovsky Theatre). He was the first in the country to stage “Iphigenia in Aulis” and “Iphigenia in Tauris” by Gluck, “The Clever One” (“Die Kluge”) by Orff and, in collaboration with the director Y.Lyubimov and choreographer O.Vinogradov, Tishchenko’s ballet “Yaroslavna” (1974). During 1990-1998 he led the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway.
Since 1977, Alexander Dmitriev has held the post of Chief Conductor of the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. He led the St.Petersburg premiere performances of music by Händel, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin and Leningrad-St.Petersburg composers. The artist’s repertoire includes the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Schubert, and the majority of orchestral works by Prokofiev, Mahler, Scriabin, Ravel, Sibelius as well as the Requiems of Mozart and Verdi.
Alexander Dmitriev is a Professor of the St Petersburg Conservatory (among his students were V.Altshuler, A.Anikhanov, A.Steinlucht, A.Boreyko, D.Rusu). He is an Honored People’s Artist of the USSR, laureate of the State Prize of Russia and holder of the Order of Merit “For Services to the Fatherland” IV degree.
Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester in 1953. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derek Wyndham and then in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod. He is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique.
In recent seasons Donohoe has appeared with Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and Concert Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonia, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Belarusian State Symphony Orchestra, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has undertaken a UK tour with the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as giving concerts in many South American and European countries, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, and USA. Other engagements include performances of all three MacMillian piano concertos with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a series of concerts for the Ravel and Rachmaninov Festival at Bridgewater Hall, and numerous performances with The Orchestra of the Swan.
Donohoe is also in high demand as a jury member for international competitions. He has recently served on the juries at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow (2011 and 2015), Busoni International Competition in Bolzano, Italy (2012), the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (2016), Georges Enescu Competition in Bucharest (2016), Hong Kong International Piano Competition (2016), and Ricardo Viñes International Competition in Lleida, Spain, along with many national competitions both within the UK and abroad.
Recent discs include a new disc of Scriabin Piano Sonatas (SOMM Records) which was described as ‘magnificent’ by the Sunday Times; a recording of Witold Maliszewski’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion); and three discs of Prokofiev piano sonatas for SOMM Records, the third of which was released at the end of April 2016. The first Prokofiev disc was described by Gramophone as ‘devastatingly effective’, declaring Donohoe to be ‘in his element’, and a review in Classical Notes identified Donohoe’s ‘remarkably sensitive approach to even the most virtuosic of repertoire’. His second Prokofiev disc was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine, and the third disc was highly praised by The Times, Birmingham Post, and Jessica Duchen. Other recordings include Cyril Scott’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion), and Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy on a Theme of John Field with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Martin Yates (also Dutton), for which BBC Music Magazine described him as an ‘excellent soloist’, and Gramophone stated that it ‘compelled from start to finish’.
Donohoe has performed with all the major London orchestras, as well as orchestras from across the world: the Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He has also played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He made his twenty-second appearance at the BBC Proms in 2012 and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits to the Edinburgh Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Peter Donohoe also performs numerous recitals internationally and continues working with his long standing duo partner Martin Roscoe, as well as more recent collaborations with artists such as Raphael Wallfisch, Elizabeth Watts and Noriko Ogawa.
Donohoe has worked with many of the world’s greatest conductors: Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Andrew Davis and Yevgeny Svetlanov. More recently he has appeared as soloist with the next generation of excellent conductors: Gustavo Dudamel, Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding.
Peter Donohoe is an honorary doctor of music at seven UK universities, and was awarded a CBE for services to classical music in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.