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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Yevgeny Mravinsky - Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

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This week, as part of our year-long #Beethoven2020 salute, we share a pair of Beethoven symphonies, performed by an orchestra and conductor we don’t immediately think of in this sort of repertoire.

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (known at the height of the Soviet era as the Leningrad Philharmonic) was founded in 1882 and is thus Russia's oldest symphonic ensemble. Principally a Court ensemble (performing at receptions and official ceremonies and at the balls, plays and concerts at the Royal Court) its vocation changed in the early 20th century offering subscription concerts for the general public. The series of concerts «Orchestral collections of musical news» saw the first Russian performances of Richard Strauss’ symphonic poems Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra, Mahler’s First Symphony, Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Among the conductors were world renowned musicians like Richard Strauss (1912) and Arthur Nikisch, Alexander Glazunov and Serge Koussevitzky.

In 1917 the Orchestra became the State Orchestra and later incorporated into the newly founded Petrograd Philharmonic, the first of its kind in the country. In the early days of the Soviet era, Western conductirs were still invited for subscription concerts and tours of the Soviet Union - Otto Klemperer, , Ernest Ansermet, Bruno Walter, Felix Weingartner. Under the initiative of the foreign conductors, the orchestra begins to play the modern repertoire - Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc.

In 1938 Yevgeny Mravinsky joined the orchestra and for the next 50 years he gradually transformed it into one of the best orchestras in the world. In respect to the performance of Tchaikovsky and D. Shostakovich symphonies, they start to call it «the model». It joined the class of the great virtuoso orchestras as solid interpreters of Mozart (as invitees to the Viennese festival dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the composer). The orchestra also performed with other famous conductors of the day: Leopold Stokowski, Igor Markevitch, Arvid Jansons, Mariss Jansons, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Evgeny Svetlanov and Kurt Sanderling. From 1942 to 1960, Sanderling was joint principal conductor with Mravinsky of the Leningrad Philharmonic.

It is without a doubt Sanderling’s influence that permeates the orchestra’s Beethoven, exemplified in this live concert performance of Beethoven’s 1st and 3rd symphonies, distributed internationally under the Erato label.

Happy Listening

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770- 1827)

Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21
[Date of Recording: 01/28/1982 / Live Leningrad Philharmonic Large Hall]

Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica"
[Date of Recording: 10/31/1968 / Live Leningrad Philharmonic Large Hall]

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Yevgeny Mravinsky, conducting

Erato Catalog #: 45759

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