The Russian State Symphony Orchestra is coming to Scotland as part of mighty all-Russian programme.
On Sunday, 14 October, they will performed at 3pm at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, when they will perform the Tchaikovsky Swan Lake Suite, Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2, and Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2.
The opening new of the Usher Hall’s new Sunday Classics season will see the orchestra joined in part by world-renowned Northern Irish pianist Barry Douglas.
The Russian State Symphony Orchestra will take audiences on a spellbinding journey of heart-stopping romance, mischievous wit, and one of the most moving tales in the whole of ballet.
The Moscow-based orchestra has a peerless pedigree in the stirring, deeply expressive music of its homeland, with a rich, noble sound that’s matched by the players’ incisive energy.
Under conductor Valentin Uryupin, one of the most exciting young talents emerging from Russia’s fiercely competitive classical world, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Speaking to Scottish Field, Barry Douglas said: ‘This is one of the greatest orchestras in the world.
‘In Soviet times, it was Evgeny Svetlanov’s Orchestra. I’ve had the pleasure of doing a few concerts with them over the years, and made a record with them back in 1993.
‘When we communicate, my Russian is pretty poor, but a number of members of the orchestra speak German, French and English, so it’s better we communicate that way, than me trying to speak their language! Where we do communicate is through the language of music, which is universal.
‘No matter what kind of music you like, whether it’s traditional classical music, jazz or rock, music transcends all language barriers, and no matter what language you speak, it brings people together, as it always has through the years.
‘The fact I’m an Irish guy, playing with a Russian orchestra, in Scotland, is proof of that.’
Uryupin and his Orchestra open with the unforgettable melancholy of one of the world’s best-loved ballet scores: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The dancers at the ballet’s premiere in 1877 protested at the piece’s difficulty to dance to – it was too rich and extensive to complement their movement. Despite this, today the piece is adored the world-over.
Barry famously won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition back in 1986 and has forged a global career with his remarkable mix of muscular power and exquisite poetry.
He continued: ‘With this orchestra, this is the music they know best – they have grown up with it and they bring their own special understanding to it. It’s in their roots.
‘An American, Scottish, English or European orchestra can play this music and give a wonderful performance, but because it’s a Russian orchestra, they come from the coal face where this music was created, and bring a special slant to it.
‘Their sound quality is allied to the core of this music, and they have a unique perspective on it.
‘I would never, in a million years, say, “Listen to this orchestra over any other,” but it’s like a French orchestra playing Debussy, or a German one playing Bach. They have a special connection with it.
‘So for me, when I play with them, I have to play with conviction and passion, and it all sounds lovely. It will be a real treat for the audience – and myself – in Edinburgh.
‘I’m really excited about coming back to Scotland, as I love Edinburgh with all of its art galleries – and it’s more special to me because I had my first haggis when I was in Edinburgh!’
Barry is the soloist in Shostakovich’s sunny, funny Second Piano Concerto, a touching birthday present from the composer to his 19-year-old son, which sandwiches a soulful, dreamy slow movement between two movements of sparkling wit and vivacious energy. It’s one of the composer’s standout works, and is a departure from much of his music that is often characterised by angst, fear and defiance in response to the oppression that he experienced under the communist regime.
Shostakovich himself visited the Usher Hall in 1962 as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and his music has been welcome addition to any programme in the venue ever since.
The afternoon of music closes with the overwhelming opulence of Rachmaninov’s epic Second Symphony, overflowing with outpourings of ecstatic melody, and charting a passionate journey through breath-taking romance to blazing triumph.
Tickets range from £13.50-£35, £10 student tickets are also available and under-16s can get a free ticket when booked with an adult. Click HERE to book.