On Sunday Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra performed a programme of music by Bartók and Stravinsky at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, for the closing concert of the Edinburgh International Festival 2015. From 9 to 25 October Gergiev will then give his last concerts as Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in London, and on tour in Vienna, Luxembourg, Paris, Newark and New York. The programmes feature ballets and orchestral works by Bartók and Stravinsky, including Stravinsky’s The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, plus Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, Concerto for Orchestra and Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3 with soloist Yefim Bronfman. In addition to the concerts there is an LSO Discovery Day on Stravinsky and Dance on Sunday 11 October, in which the public are invited to witness Gergiev’s morning rehearsal with the LSO at the Barbican, followed by an afternoon of chamber music and discussion at LSO St Luke’s.
After a highly successful cycle of Prokofiev’s Symphonies with the LSO in 2004, the Orchestra’s centenary year, Valery Gergiev was appointed Principal Conductor, taking up the post in 2007. He began his tenure with a complete cycle of Mahler’s symphonies in the 2007/08 season, and in 2008/09 focused on Rachmaninov’s symphonies and other Russian repertoire. The performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, recorded for LSO Live, the Orchestra’s record label, went on to win Disc of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards in 2011. In the 2009/10 season Gergiev’s concerts with the LSO explored the music of Henri Dutilleux and his contemporaries and in 2010/11 he turned to compatriot Rodion Shchedrin and began a complete cycle of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies. The cycle was completed in the 2011/12 season, which Gergiev opened with a concert featuring the three winners of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, including pianist Daniil Trifonov making his LSO debut.
In 2012, Gergiev inaugurated the BMW LSO Open Air Classics series, the Orchestra’s annual, free, open-air concert in London’s Trafalgar Square. He has conducted each subsequent Trafalgar Square event to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands of Londoners and visitors from around the world. As part of each Trafalgar Square concert, Gergiev has conducted young East London musicians from LSO Discovery, the Orchestra’s award-winning community and music education programme, playing with members of the LSO.
In 2012/13 Gergiev’s focus was on the orchestral music of Brahms and Szymanowski and in 2013/14 a series featuring Berlioz was followed by the first ever complete UK cycle of Scriabin’s symphonic works. 2014/15 saw a focus on Russian music from the core of the repertory, performed alongside less well-known music by Tishchenko and Balakirev.
Gergiev has led the LSO on major tours to the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan, as well as a highly successful tour to Australia in 2014, the Orchestra’s first visit to the country in more than three decades. He has regularly conducted the LSO at the Orchestra’s residencies at Lincoln Center in New York, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Paris’ Salle Pleyel, as well as conducting the Orchestra’s first performance in the new Philharmonie de Paris in February 2015.
Valery Gergiev has made a significant number of recordings on LSO Live during his tenure as Principal Conductor. They include the celebrated account of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet mentioned above, the recent Pure Audio Blu-Ray release of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Waverley Overture, which received a CHOC de Classica, a complete Mahler symphony cycle, Szymanowski’s symphonies, and Tchaikovsky’s first three symphonies.
Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO said: “Valery’s tenure as Principal Conductor has seen much great and inspiring music-making with the LSO. His profound knowledge of Russian repertoire in particular has led to many truly memorable performances and also a strong legacy of recordings on LSO Live. His immersive approach to programming has brought us great insight into the orchestral canons of Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin and Szymanowski, among others, and fascinating insight into less-well-known composers such as Shchedrin. He has performed with the LSO all over the world. In particular I remember the extraordinary reception in Australia last year and taking our Prokofiev symphony cycle from London on tour to Edinburgh, Paris, Tokyo and New York. I look forward very much to this closing series of Bartók and Stravinsky, repertoire which I know the orchestra will relish performing with Valery. We wish him every good wish for the future and look forward to working with him in the seasons ahead.”