FOR WHOM THE REQUIEM TOLLS. Rossijskaya gazeta

By Irina Muravyeva

The Fifth International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival, organised and presented by the Maestro’s daughter, Olga Rostropovich, has just taken place in Moscow. Over a period of 10 days, in the city’s most important halls, the Grand Hall of the Сonservatoire and the Tchaikovsky Hall, performances were given by five different European orchestras the Russian National Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra (of London), the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

One should note that such a line-up of elite orchestras is a rare event for any musical capital in the world. Only the largest and most prestigious musical festivals, such as the Salzburg Festival are capable of hosting a project of such enormous organisational, logistical and financial complexity. The previous Russian project “Orchestras of the World” has already faded into the distance. And although the Rostropovich Festival did not pose such an aim for itself, yet the high-ranking orchestras and renowned conductors coming to Moscow to honour the Maestro’s memory ensured this to be the greatest showcase of world-class orchestras in our country. First let us recall the orchestras which appeared in previous festivals: the Bavarian Radio orchestra under Mariss Jansons, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under its chief conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra under Antonio Pappano, and others. This year the conductors who appeared were Vladimir Jurowski (London Philharmonic Orchestra), Esa-Pekka Salonen (Philharmonia Orchestra), Myung-Whun Chung (Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France), Stéphane Denève (Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra), and Mikhail Pletnev (Russian National Orchestra). Read more...


By Yaroslav Timofeev

Izvestiya, 7th April 2014

Four European orchestras and Mikhail Pletnev have guaranteed the high level of the Fifth Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

With the results at hand of this jubilee festival, now is the perfect time to sum up the achievements of this “five-year plan”. First and foremost this event in honour of Rostropovich is by far the most interesting Festival in Moscow, both in respect of the participating artists and in its programming. (And that includes its greatest competitor, the Moscow Easter Festival which is centred round its artistic director, Valery Gergiev, and has hence become “monotheistic”.) Read more...

Shostakovich’s ape opera Orango debuts in Moscow Source. Russia Beyond the Headlines

Shostakovich’s ape opera Orango debuts in Moscow

Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing 'Orango' opera at Moscow Conservatory. Source: Alexander Gaiduk / Rostropovich festival

Orango the ape shuffles before the Palace of Soviets, to the sounds of a jeering crowd. This is not just any chimpanzee, the ringleader proclaims: Orango can eat with a knife and fork, blow his nose, and even play “Chizik Pyzhik,” the Russian nursery rhyme character. Orango is half-ape, half-human, a grotesque capitalist experiment who now resides in the Moscow circus.

Such is the bizarre, fascinating conceit of “Orango,” the unfinished comedic opera by Dmitry Shostakovich. In 1932, the Bolshoi Theatre commissioned “Orango” in honor of the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution, but the project was soon abandoned. Nothing was known of it until 2004, when Olga Digonskaya, a musicologist at Moscow’s Glinka Museum, stumbled across a piano score for the prologue in Shostakovich’s archives.

Digonskaya called her discovery “an unbelievable stroke of luck.”

“My hands and legs were shaking,” she said. “I felt like Sherlock Holmes.”

After premiering in Los Angeles in 2011, “Orango” was performed for the first time in the composer’s native country on Friday, when Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen led the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir in a concert at Moscow’s Conservatory. Read more...

On 5th April Tchaikovsky Hall hosted the closing gala of the V Mstislav International Rostropovich Festival. It started with pianist Nicholas Angelich and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski performing Brahms’s Concerto No. 2, and continued after the intermission with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2

The LPO was the first British orchestra to come on tour in Russia, behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, back in 1956. Many musicians can recollect Mstislav Rostropovich, who used to perform with the LPO under Carlo Maria Giulini. Two years ago the orchestra already took part in the Rostropovich Festival, and Maestro Jurowski eagerly agreed on returning to Moscow. As for Nikolas Angelich, it was his debut in Moscow, and he left the audience thrilled by his manner of interpretation and top professional skills.

Looking back at the Festival, the music community unanimously acknowledged its highest level, calling it one of the season’s highlights. Following an established tradition, next Festival, sixth in a row, will open on Mstislav Rostropovich’s birthday – 27th March 2015, at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire.

On 4th April the V International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival presented one of its highlights – the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski performed Britten’s War Requiem at Tchaikovsky Hall

The great English composer of the 20th century enjoyed close friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya, which gave to the world numerous music works of various genres. The Requiem also featured soloists Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Ian Bostridge, Matthias Goerne, the Chamber Orchestra conducted by Neville Creed (UK), joined by the Boys’ Choir of the Sveshnikov Choral School and the Yurlov State Academic Choir.

The first performance of Britten's War Requiem took place on 30th May 1962 in Coventry, with the soprano’s part originally intended for Galina Vishnevskaya who was to appear at the première. However, Galina Vishnevskaya was prohibited from leaving for England by the Soviet authorities for political reasons, and it was only in 1966 that she made her appearance at the Moscow première of the War Requiem. This event, as well as the friendship that tied the great musicians, became subject of a specific exhibition in the foyer of Tchaikovsky Hall, which featured the highlights of friendship and artistic life of Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya and Britten: rehearsals, artistic discussions, concerts, joint visits and travels, as well as music manuscripts and letters.

In his introductory address, Vladimir Jurowski dwelled on the history of the War Requiem and some Britten’s life highlights, stressing that this is one of the composer’s most significant works, and essentially “an antiwar requiem that all concert’s participants dedicate to those who unfairly lost and still lose their lives at a time when there seems to be no war.” Also, Vladimir Jurowski thanked Artistic Director Olga Rostropovich for the invitation to take part in the Festival and especially in such an important event as the Requiem.

The concert was attended by such honored guests as the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Olga Golodets, as well as other politicians and public personalities.

On 5th April Tchaikovsky Concert Hall will host the closing gala of the V International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival, which will be celebrated by the Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Nicholas Angelich (USA) and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.

On 3rd April the Tchaikovsky Hall of Moscow hosted the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) under maestro Stéphane Denève, performing Lemminkäinen Suite and Violin Concerto in D minor by Sibelius with violinist Nikolaj Znaider, and Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony

It was the first ever concert by both the SWR and maestro Denève in Moscow in all the 70 years of the orchestra’s history. From the very first bars the orchestra took the audience’s breath away with its renowned ‘Stuttgart Sound’, initiated by the greatest conductor Sergiu Celibidache, Artistic Director of the SWR in the 1970s. Nikolaj Znaider, one of the most acclaimed violinists of our age, has been also widely known as a conductor, which definitely added to his unique style of interpretation. The public was reluctant to let him leave the stage and so was rewarded with two encores – Sarabandas from Bach’s Partitas.
The Fourth Bruckner’s Symphony in the second part of the concert was highly praised by the music lovers, as the orchestra testified to the fact that it holds sacred Bruckner’s symphonic traditions, boasting also great rapports within the orchestra as well as an outstanding quality of interpretation. “I am really fond of this orchestra. I enjoy working with them, as they are really friendly and open to experiments. I also love their sound. They are Germans, which means a deep quality of sound, but at the same time they are from the south Germany, which gives a softer, lyric touch to their sound”, – maestro Denève said, adding that it is a great pleasure being part of the Rostropovich Festival.

On 4th April the V Mstislav Rostropovich Festival continues with The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski performing Britten’s War Requiem at Tchaikovsky Hall.

On 31th March the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire saw the second concert by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as part of the V Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival

First part of the concert featured overture from Der Freischütz by von Weber and Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major by Haydn. Although Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk got a shoulder injury short before the concert, he refused to cancel his appearance at the Rostropovich Festival, for he considers himself Maestro’s ‘musical grandchild’: Mørk studied under Natalia Shakhovskaya and Frans Helmerson, alumni of Rostropovich. In his interview to the Orpheus Radio he claimed that, “soon after I started my cello lessons, I moved to the very nord of Norway where concerts were rare, but likely I had few recordings by Maestro Rostropovich, and they inspired me tremendously... I met maestro just twice in my life… he has been so important in my musical development, and also brought me to the Russian type of sound, I would say – maybe it’s my personal impression, but there was something particular in the way how he brought out particular beauty and power in the sound.”
The second part of the concert saw the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung perform Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The public burst into particularly long applause thrilled by the flawless artistry and a powerful energy of maestro and his orchestra.
The Festival will see its following concert on 3rd April with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra under Stéphane Denève at the Tchaikovsky Hall, joined by the violinist Nikolaj Znaider.

On 30th March the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire saw a concert by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung as part of the V Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival, with programme featuring the overture from Le carnival romain by Berlioz, Piano Concerto No. 1 by Ravel with the pianist Plamena Mangova, and Pictures from an Exhibition by Mussorsky orchestrated by Ravel

It was from the very first bars that the orchestra’s artistry took the public’s breath away, while Plamena Mangova’s performance was literally sensational, with the public bursting into an endless applause and so awarded with as much as four encores. The public was no less generous in praising orchestra’s artistry under maestro Myung-Whun Chung. As maestro put it, “Mstislav Rostropovich was the greatest musician ever. I am well familiar with Olga Rostropovich as time ago we were fellow students at the Julliard School. And now I happen to meet her after all these years! As for the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, I have been with it for fourteen years and know the musicians pretty well, and I can claim firmly that they are the best French musicians, but what strikes me about them even more than their professional skills are their wonderful human qualities…. And this is how I call them – ‘my angels’, for they are really wonderful people, and this shines through their music. And above all, to me as a conductor it is a special pleasure to perform in this Hall almost 40 years after I stepped on this stage as pianist at the Tchaikovsky competition. And this is a real delight to be part of this Festival.”

On 31th March the Festival continues with another concert by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung, which will feature Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk.

On 29th March the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire hosted the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev as part of the V Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

The first part of the concert saw the Orchestra’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor play solo in the Mozart’s Concert No. 24. This extraordinary event, ultimately so rare to happen, was welcomed enthusiastically by both public and music professionals, and after the intermission was followed by the Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 2. Maestro’s extraordinary performance has given another proof of his striking artistry, both as pianist and conductor, as well as testified to his orchestra being one of the world top orchestras.

According to Maestro Pletnev, he extensively collaborated with Mstislav Rostropovich. “I did several recordings with him, and to me he was a legend, an artist who linked generations through his amazing personality. The generation of composers like Shostakovich and Prokofiev, whom he knew personally, and my generation… I think, with the years his impact will multiply its value, as he has left an important mark in the history of music.”
The Festival will continue on 30th March with the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France under Myung-Whun Chung and the pianist Plamena Mangova.

On 28th March the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire saw the Russian première of Orango, an unfinished opera by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra (London) under Esa-Pekka Salonen within the contest of the V Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

The manuscript of Orango was discovered by musicologist Olga Digonskaya at the Glinka Museum in 2004. For the Russian première, the orchestra joined forces with soloists Sally Silver, Allan Clayton, Steven Page, Henry Waddington, Daniel Norman, and Alexander Markeev, along with the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir. After the intermission, the Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Salonen played Shostakovich’s Forth Symphony. Read more...

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