The St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Russia’s oldest-established orchestra, is receiving rapturous notices while on its North American tour, which will bring it to Symphony Center on Feb. 23. Under longtime artistic director and chief conductor Yuri Termirkanov (above), the orchestra will perform the overture to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, with guest soloist Vilde Frang.

vildefrangeWhile on tour, the orchestra has been joined by several rising young artists: Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin, German violinist Julia Fischer and Norwegian violinist Frang (inset photo at right). The tour also celebrates Termirkanov’s 25th anniversary as artistic leader of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

From a review by Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times:

“From the opening strains of the first work, orchestral excerpts from Rimsky-Korsakov’s enchanting opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, the ensemble’s classic dark, velvety, penetrating sound came through beautifully. There is uncanny richness in the reedy woodwinds, mellow brass and especially, the russet strings.”

From a review by Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun:

“With truly distinctive conductors … you know you will get a meaningful experience each time. So it was on this occasion. Nobody believes in the score [of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2] more deeply than Temirkanov. His account was notable for the underlying pulse, which gave the music extra tension, and for the way he let the most rhapsodic passages bloom fully. His application of rubato was masterful, as was his ear for inner voices in the symphony.”

From a review in the Washington Post:

“The orchestra is a Russian national treasure, conductor Yuri Temirkanov one of the best in the world. [He] is a brilliant conductor and a gentle one, leading with urbane understatement, coaxing the music out of the orchestra rather than trying to force himself upon it.”

Along with his podium prowess, Temirkanov also sports a droll sense of humor, as evidenced by this video clip from posted on YouTube: