In its more than 50-year history of presenting classical music, McCarter has never presented a full symphony orchestra, which is why the Tuesday, October 8, concert at Richardson Auditorium by the Mariinsky Orchestra from St. Petersburg is such a special occasion for me.
Valery Gergiev, the orchestra’s music director and unquestionably the most important musician in Russia today, is an old friend, and I was instrumental in arranging the first concerts by his orchestra (then called the Kirov Orchestra) in New York when I worked at Lincoln Center. In the interim, Gergiev has molded his ensemble into what is widely acknowledged to be one of Europe’s “big four” orchestras, ranking right up there with those of Vienna, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
The Mariinsky returns in October for concerts in New York (and in Newark at NJPAC). But since at the same time Gergiev himself will also be conducting two operas at the Met, he was not available to lead the Mariinsky in Princeton on October 8. So he invited his colleague and fellow countryman Ignat Solzhenitsyn to serve as guest conductor — the first time anybody other than Gergiev himself has led his orchestra in the USA.
The all-Russian program will include works by Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff and one of the quintessential symphonic masterworks of 20th century music — Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5, which should certainly be on any music lover’s “Top Ten’ list.”
— W.W. Lockwood Jr.
Lockwood is special programming director at McCarter.