The Monte-Carlo Philharmonic’s Grande Saison series continues on October 19th with the Inaugural Concert of the Orchestra’s Russian Season.
Conducted by Lawrence Foster, this performance is devoted to some of the glorious music composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff, the main work being his Piano Concerto No 2, featuring guest artist Evgeny Kissin. The concert opens with the Vocalise for Violin and Orchestra – soloist Liza Kerob – followed by Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.
From his first appointment, as conductor of the San Francisco Ballet at the age of 18, Lawrence Foster has held a number of music directorships during his long and impressive career – with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the National Orchestra and Opera of Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon. Maestro Foster is currently Music Director of the Marseille Opera and the Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra, and he is also Conductor Laureate of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, following a highly successful 10-year tenure as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the ensemble.
Moscow-born pianist Evgeny Kissin was recognised as a child prodigy from the age of six, and – in the words of his official biography – has had musical awards and tributes from around the world showered upon him. These accolades include Musical America’s youngest Instrumentalist of the Year in 1995, the youngest ever recipient of the Triumph Award – the Russian Republic’s highest cultural honour – in 1997, the first pianist to give a recital at the BBC Proms in the same year, and the first concerto soloist ever to be invited to play in the Proms opening concert, in 2000. Mr. Kissin is the recipient of two Grammy Awards and is much in demand as both a concert and recording artist.
In this concert, Evgeny Kissin performs Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. Completed in 1901, it was the first work which the composer wrote after the disastrous reception which greeted his First Symphony, and which sent him into a deep depression for several years. Now one of the most popular and frequently played works in the piano repertoire, the concerto is known for its sumptuous and enduringly beautiful melodies, used to great effect throughout David Lean’s 1945 production of the film Brief Encounter.
Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise – as it was originally written – was the last of a set of 14 songs which he began in 1910. It was composed during the summer of 1912 at Ivanovka, a country estate which he loved and where he found tranquility in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Three years later he converted the Vocalise into a work for orchestra, since when it has been adpated for various instruments – for this performance for violin and orchestra, featuring solo violinist Liza Kerob.
Ms. Kerob, who studied at the Paris Conservatory, at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and also at the Juilliard School in New York, has appeared in festivals at illustrious venues such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall in New York. She has also performed as a soloist with many orchestras in France, and with the New York Symphony Orchestra in Pamplona. In May 2002, she had the title ‘Supersoliste’ bestowed on her by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, under the direction of Marek Janowski.
The Symphonic Dances was Rachmaninoff’s last major work. Notable for its use of the alto saxophone as a solo instrument, it was written in 1941, overlooking Long Island Sound. It has about it a certain nostalgia for Russia and is also said to reflect the composer’s apparent fascination for Russian ecclesiastical chants. Although Rachmaninoff was certain that it would never be as popular as many of his other works, the Symphonic Dances has since become a great favourite with orchestras and audiences alike.