Russia’s oldest symphony orchestra plays the Usher Hall

Chief Conductor Yuri Temirkanov (Photo by Stas Levshin)
Chief Conductor Yuri Temirkanov (Photo by Stas Levshin)

The historic and prestigious St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra will take to the stage of Edinburgh’s Usher hall in the first Sunday Classics concert of 2019.

The legendary orchestra will be led by their longstanding Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Yuri Temirkanov.

They will also be joined by leading British pianist Freddy Kempf for Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto.

Often described as the greatest piano concerto ever written and adored by millions as the soundtrack to cinematic classic Brief Encounter, Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto is musical romance at its finest.

The Usher Hall audience will be swept up in the piece’s gorgeous melodies, its heart-on-sleeve emotion, its dazzling orchestral colours.

Few performances of this passionate music can be as authentic as one from the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra – dubbed the crowning glory of Russian culture, and Russia’s oldest and most revered symphony orchestra. With its roots dating back to 1882, it has an illustrious history and has been a constant through revolution and war in Russia.

In 1934 it was awarded the title Honoured Ensemble of Russia, the first of the century, and later developed a close relationship with Shostakovich himself, performing five of the great Russian composer’s symphonies for the first time.

Under Yuri Temirkanov, chief conductor for the past three decades, there are few ensembles that can convey the turbulent soul of Russian music in quite the same way.

Taking the Concerto’s spectacular solo role is British soloist Freddy Kempf, a master of Russian pianism who enjoys enormous popularity in Russia for his piercing intelligence, his pianistic brilliance and his muscular power.

Winner of 1992’s BBC Young Musician contest, Kempf is now a pianist with a global reputation.

Temirkanov closes the concert with Gustav Mahler’s lightest, most joyful Symphony – and also his shortest. The Fourth traces a luminous path from experience to innocence, stopping off for a visit to a devilish fiddler, before revealing the wide-eyed wonders of a child’s view of heaven – complete with bread-baking angels and St Peter gone fishing.

St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is at the Usher Hall, on Sunday, January 27, at 3pm. Tickets are available at