St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra Returned with Nikolay Alekseev

NCPA May/21/2024
On May 21st, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, known as the “symphonic flagship ensemble of Russia”, reappeared at the NCPA Concert Hall. By joining hands with the promising pianist Ilya Papoyan, a high-level “lead soloist”, the Orchestra offered an audio feast of classical music, under the baton of Chief Conductor Nikolay Alekseev.

The concert began with four selections from Prokofiev’s The Love of Three Oranges. Under Alekseev’s fine-controlled baton, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra served the audience an endlessly interesting and colourful “appetiser”. This well-staffed orchestra demonstrated their amazing skill at playing chamber music, with fantastically exquisite and colourful musical notes created in outstanding unison.


The pianist Ilya Papoyan then took the stage and joined the Orchestra in rendering Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major. The talented young man, born in 2001, grew up in St. Petersburg, and that’s why he could reach “perfect cooperation” with the Orchestra. The piano and the Orchestra breathed at his rhythm, seeming to fill the air with romantic fragrance. Papoyan showed a musical imagination and control force beyond his age. After the piece, he returned to the stage and played Volodos’ arrangement Carmen Fantasy, Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Major, Op. 32, No. 5 and “Figaro Impromptu” from Il barbiere di Siviglia for Piano. His virtuosity won heartfelt applause from the audience again.


As one of the oldest Russian orchestras, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra witnessed the glorious development of classical music in modern Russia. The Orchestra delivered world premieres of many major works by romantic Russian composers including Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Glazunov. Shostakovich, one of the most important Russian composers in the 20th century, had an unbreakable friendship with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, so that six of the 15 symphonic works composed by Shostakovich in his lifetime were premiered by this orchestra.


The concert’s biggest hit was undoubtedly the finale of the second half - Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, which had been premiered by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Unlike the first half, where something elegant and exquisite were presented, the second half saw the Orchestra turn itself into a flagship running fast on the sea of Shostakovich’s music, with the grand symphony interpreted in a billowy tone. Amidst those musical waves, which were mountainous now and smooth then, there appeared an indistinctly visible clue created by the Orchestra after countless renditions of this work. Every detail left on the score by the composer received full respect, and tonight, tri-creation was amazingly realised among the score, the Orchestra and the audience’s auditory sense.


After the full piece was over, the audience remained so immersed in the music that they didn’t want to leave the concert hall. Alekseev and the Orchestra returned for an encore performance of jazzed waltz from Shostakovich’s Hypothetically Murdered, once again honouring the master musician.

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St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

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