The St Petersburg Symphony has always stood within the shadow of the city’s famous Philharmonic Orchestra, though it has not always been the case, for it was in those dark years of the German blockade that its broadcasts offered hope to the beleaguered people, eventually giving the first performance of Shostakovich’s defiant and massive ‘Leningrad’ Symphony.
“It was the only orchestra they had, but some of its musicians were so undernourished they had difficulty playing, the heavy brass being particularly affected,” recalled the composer many years later.
Formed in 1931 as the city’s radio orchestra, today it enjoys busy international tours, the upcoming 14-concert tour of the UK includes a Leeds Town Hall concert next Saturday. It is an all-Russian programme opening with Prokofiev’s ‘Classical’ Symphony and closing with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique’ Symphony.
Peter Donohoe is the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s lesser-known Second Piano Concerto, a work that has had a chequered life. It is always seen as the poor relative to its popular predecessor and for many years it struggled to survive in a cut-down version by the famous pianist Alexander Siloti.
The conductor is the Kazhak- born, Alan Burbayev, who has packed into a young life a major career around the world – his highly acclaimed six year tenure of Ireland’s National Symphony Orchestra has just come to an end.
Leeds Town Hall, October 28, 7.30pm, tickets from 0113 3760318 or www.leedsconcertseason.com