Valerij Gergiev, conductor
Abisal Gergiev, piano

Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 Italian

Maurice Ravel
Pavane pour une infante défunte

Alexander Scriabin
Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20

The Mariinsky Orchestra is one of Russia's oldest musical ensembles. It has been conducted in the past by Berlioz, Wagner, von Bulow, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Nikisch and Rachmaninoff, and was the first to perform numerous works by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich and Khachaturian.

The Russian soul permeates its nature. "Western orchestras are truly exceptional," says Valery Gergiev, conductor of the Mariinsky Orchestra, "but with Russian music, the question is finding its soul. We often use the word "soul" – the soul of music – and endeavour to make it speak when we play. The instrumental quality and the soul's splendour are somehow the "weapon" to express the work's very essence".

It is said that the sacred fire of a Russian mystic burns within Gergiev. With his magnetic gaze, his solemn posture and his deep voice, he has often been referred to as the ideal successor of Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. When he conducts, Gergiev endeavours to establish an intense bond between the music and the audience. According to Gareth Davies, the orchestra's flautist, "Gergiev has this incredible sense of his homeland and its sufferings". "With my orchestra, much of what we play belongs to our musical mentality," says the Maestro. It's the tradition, not the musicians that keeps up with time. This culture is handed down from teacher to pupil, "like something you take from one and pass on to the next. And so it goes on, again, again, and again".

For its comeback to Lugano, the Mariinsky Orchestra will delve into the European musical casket. The programme includes the Mediterranean colours of the Mendelssohn's famous Symphony No. 4, "the gayest piece I have ever written," said the German composer about this symphony born under the sun during a trip to Italy. The harmonious and seductive sounds of Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte echo of a 16th-century slow dance. First written in 1899 for piano, the work was later orchestrated by the composer himself, who imagined it danced by a princess at the court of Spain.

Alexander Scriabin will bring the programme back to the Russian musical tradition and Gergiev's young son, the barely twenty-year-old Abisal, will make his debut at the LAC with the elegant Piano Concerto in F sharp minor.

Read more