Artists in the Kirov Orchestra have a lot of incentive to devote their lives to the Mariinsky Company. Aside from recordings, videos, coaching, exposure on tours and the incomparable solidarity of the group, members of Kirov are most swayed by the experience of making music with their conductor, Valery Gergiev. As a result, over the years, the Kirov Orchestra has assembled and retained some of the most talented musicians in the world.

Paul Wong
Conductor Valery Gergiev.<br><br>Courtesy of Joost vam Velsen

The Kirov ensemble will display their collective talent conducted by the highly acclaimed Gergiev and accompanied by prodigal pianist Alexander Toradze tonight at Hill Auditorium.

Since its inception in the 18th century, Kirov, the resident orchestra of the Russian company Mariinsky, has remained one of the world”s leading orchestras. In 1988, Gergiev was appointed artistic director of the company, and soon after, the Kirov orchestra developed strong international ties with some of the greatest opera houses.

Prior to Gergiev, the orchestra solely performed Russian music and disregarded international repertoire. Currently, the orchestra tours China, Europe, Japan and every two years, the United States. It maintains strong ties with such great opera houses as London”s Royal Opera House, Paris Opera de la Bastille and the Metropolitan Opera.

Gergiev, Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, has received some of the most distinguished honors for his work with the Kirov Orchestra, including Conductor of the Year Award given by Musical America and “Musician of the Year” at the Classical Music Awards in London.

Concerning a previous performance, New York Newsday said, “artistic director and chief conductor Valery Gergiev drew brilliant and stylish playing from the Kirov Orchestra. Gergiev”s conducting was linear and poetic ” An account by the The Village Voice found that “Gergiev roused his orchestra to the fulminating heights of Tchaikovsky”s finest operatic score ”

Pianist Alexander Toradze, a virtuoso performer, will accompany Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra tonight. Toradze is known for his intensity at the keyboard, as well as his thoughtful interpretations of Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. The Dallas Morning News stated that Mr. Toradze “doesn”t merely play these scores with all the force, wit and imagination the music demands. He endows each with a sharp profile, and he ferrets out the colors, accents and suggestions in the music that other pianists overlook or never discover.”

Long time friends, Gergiev and Toradze carry their off stage chemistry on stage and intensify it in a musical context. Toradze”s range and command of the piano along with Gergiev”s podium talent lead the orchestra towards musical perfection.

This performance marks the UMS debut of Toradze, as well as the third performance of the Kirov Orchestra and Gergiev (with previous performances in 1992 and 1998).

Tonight”s program will include Debussy”s “La Mer” (1904), Prokofiev”s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor” (1913-14) and Tchaikovsky”s “Symphony No. 5 in e minor, Op. 64” (1888).

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