Bartók, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky – sounds like an excellent line-up at Davies Symphony Hall this week. And not only do we have Gidon Kremer as guest soloist – with the Bartók Violin Concerto – but the San Francisco Symphony will be led by Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko, making his debut appearance with the Orchestra. The program opens with Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite and ends triumphantly with Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No 3.
Attracting accolades such as “revelatory” (The St Louis Post-Dispatch), “expressive” (Cincinnati Enquirer) and “sublime” (Naples Daily News), Andrey Boreyko is also regarded as “one of the most exciting and dynamic conductors to emerge from Eastern Europe in recent years” (San Francisco Symphony).
Currently Music Director of Orchestre National de Belgique, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi in the Basque region of north-western Spain, Andrey Boreyko also takes up the position of Music Director with the Naples Philharmonic in Florida this season.
His repertoire extends from the great symphonic works to those which are less well known – last year he conducted the world premiere of Górecki’s Symphony No 4 with the London Philharmonic, as well as the US premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This season, Andrey Boreyko will lead the Orchestre National de Belgique in new works by Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say and Belgian pianist and composer Frederik Neyrinck.
Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer – described by the Los Angeles Times as an “intense, searing, original interpreter” – makes a welcome return to the San Francisco Symphony with a performance of Béla Bartók’s First Violin Concerto. It was a poignant composition for Bartók, dedicated as it was to Hungarian violinist Stefi Geyer, with whom he was in love, and which portrays aspects of her character. Geyer – who did not reciprocate Bartók’s feelings – rejected the concerto, and it was subsequently shelved and not performed until after both Bartók and Geyer had died.
Gidon Kremer has appeared with most of the leading orchestras in Europe and America, and collaborated with the some of the world’s most acclaimed conductors. In 1997 he founded the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra, to cultivate the talent of the outstanding young musicians of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. He has toured extensively with the ensemble, and recorded twenty-five CDs, one of which – After Mozart – was awarded both a Grammy and an ECHO prize in 2002.
Highlights of this season for Gidon Kremer include a tour to Asia with Kremerata Baltica, a recital program with pianist Daniil Trifonov in Cologne and London, a tour with Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva and Kremerata Baltica to Austria and Italy, and a European tour with the Russian National Orchestra.
This week’s program opens with Sergei Prokofiev’s delightful suite based on the music which he wrote in 1933 for a Soviet film entitled Lieutenant Kijé, telling of the life an imaginary and inept soldier in the Russian Emperor’s palace. It’s a well-loved piece, which – together with his Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf – has become one of Prokofiev’s most popular scores.
The final work is Tchaikovsky’s lovely Orchestral Suite No 3 which he completed in July 1884 and which was premiered to great acclaim on January 24, 1885, at a concert of the Russian Musical Society in Saint Petersburg. The conductor was Hans van Bulow.
A work in four movements, it features the hauntingly beautiful and soaring melodies which only Tchaikovsky could write, with a finale redolent of the grandeur and elegance of Imperial Russia. It’s no wonder that it caught the imagination of George Balanchine who was commissioned by Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre) in 1947 to choreograph a ballet – Theme and Variations – to the final movement. It’s a work which appears in the repertoire of many ballet companies today, not least the San Francisco Ballet which will present Theme & Variations in Program 7 of its 2016 season. In 1970 Balanchine choreographed the first three movements of the suite as well, creating a work which he called Tchaikovsky Suite No 3.
Andrey Boreyko leads the San Francisco Symphony, with guest artist Gidon Kremer, in a program of music by Prokofiev, Bartók and Tchaikovsky at Davies Symphony Hall on October 28, 29 and 30. For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
San Francisco Symphony program notes by:
James M Keller
Boosey & Hawkes