St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra concludes the second series of #EnescuOnline concerts under the batton of Vassily Sinaisky, returned to Enescu Festival to conduct two monumental works by Beethoven and Mahler
At the end of its second series, between May 20 and 22, Enescu Festival Online broadcasts a vibrant performance with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Vassily Sinaisky. The concert, which took place at the 2019 George Enescu International Festival, presents two works in a major tonality, equally majestic and romantic: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major by Ludwig van Beethoven with Nelson Freire soloist and Symphony No. 1 in D major by Gustav Mahler.
Finalized by 1806, at a time when Beethoven was deeply engrossed in composition and revision of previous works, the Piano Concerto received its first performance before a general audience in 1808, at the Theater an der Wien, in a concert that included also the first public performances of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the concert aria Ah! perfido, movements from the Mass in C, and the Choral Fantasy. The event was not as musically satisfying as Beethoven could have hoped and the piece was in danger of being eclipsed by the many other great works composed by Beethoven at the time. Neglected for almost 30 years after its premiere, the Piano Concerto No. 4 was brought back to the audiences’ attention by Felix Mendelsohn, who championed it in concert halls across Europe, performing it in England in 1847 and emphasizing its beauty and innovative structure.
The history of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra begins in 1931, and for more than two decades its work has been closely linked to Radio Leningrad. During World War II, the Radio Leningrad Symphony Orchestra was the only orchestra left in the besieged city. Even though in the first and terrible winter of the War the orchestra could no longer play, through almost superhuman efforts, in August 1942, under the baton of Karl Eliasberg, the orchestra performed in Leningrad the premiere of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. Nowadays, 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 the tradition of the orchestral performance of the Leningrad Symphony” (Tianjin Daily, 2015). St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is a regular guest at prestigious international festivals in Europe, Asia, and America. For the past three seasons, it has toured in the U.K., Israel, as well as Finland and China.
Maestro Vassily Sinaisky is a complete musician, an experienced conductor and pianist. He was Principal Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, where he also holds the position of Conductor Emeritus; Music Director and conductor of the Bolshoi Theater, the Russian State Orchestra; Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra; Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Malmö Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra. He visited Romania for the first time in 2014 when he conducted the Orchestre National de France, and he returned in 2018, at the helm of the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra for the Piano Section Gala Final at the George Enescu International Competition.
A very sensitive pianist, the Brazilian Nelson Freire was a child prodigy with perfect pitch. He was awarded the First Prize at the Vianna da Motta International Music Competition in Lisbon and was offered the Dinu Lipatti Medal in London. In 2001, he was the president of the jury for the Marguerite Long Competition in Paris. His debut at The Proms was in August 2005. Both talented and reserved, Freire tends to avoid the limelight, publicity, and interviews. He has recorded with Sony/CBS, Teldec, Philips, and Deutsche Grammophon. His discography includes recordings of Liszt’s piano concertos with the Dresden Philharmonic. Freire signed an exclusive contract with Decca, the first result being the recording of Chopin’s works, rewarded with Diapason d’Or, a Choc Award from the Monde de la Musique, a “10” rating from the magazine Répertoire and a recommendation from Classica. Together with Decca, he also recorded Brahms’ piano concertos with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, a double album awarded with the Classic FM and Gramophone Awards in 2007. With the Decca album Harmonies du Soir, he marked the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth in 2011. Freire also recorded Brazilian piano music for Decca. In March 2007, Nelson Freire was appointed a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and in January 2011 he was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion de’Honneur, the French government’s highest award to a foreigner. “Few pianists alive convey the sheer joy and exhilaration of being masters of their craft more vividly and uncomplicatedly than Nelson Freire.” (The Guardian)