Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra are continuing a major tour of the 2016-17 season in cities in the USA and Canada. The musicians have already visited Stanford, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, Davis, Berkeley, Kansas City, Chicago and Urbana. On 10 and 11 November the orchestra is appearing in Canada before returning to the USA for the final concerts of the tour at America's most prestigious venues – the Kennedy Center (Washington) and Carnegie Hall (New York), as well as at Washington Cathedral.
One American critic was very interested in the choice of programmes. Of the performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall the critic of The Los Angeles Times wrote wrote that "Scriabin's symphony Le Divin Poème was stirring. The middle movement, with its gorgeous tune (impossible to get out of your head for days), swelled with a rapturous grandeur that seemed like it would never stop. Climax topped climax." The internet portal Classical Voice commented on the soloist of the evening – Denis Matsuev: "(Maestro Gergiev's) conducting style has changed little and mellowed not one whit, always charging ahead relentlessly and excitingly. (...) In the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 2, Gergiev met his match in pianist Denis Matsuev, who stunned in the power and clarity of his playing, romping through the four movements of the concerto with equal fun and ease."
The Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev received most comments following their appearance at the Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, where they presented Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 2, Dmitry Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony, Alexander Scriabin's Third Symphony Le Divin Poème on the first evening, and Richard Strauss symphonic poem Don Juan, Sergei Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony and Rodion Shchedrin's Piano Concerto No 2, commemmorating the composer's birthday, on the second evening.
"In this concert the musicians sent out a brilliant glow, and responded to Gergiev’s mercurial conducting style, all wiggling fingers and body thrusts. Chief among the assets on display was the luminescence of the string playing, a warm blanket that provided a soft bed for rapturous utterances from the brass and more delicate touches from the woodwinds. Through it all, Gergiev and his toothpick corralled this programme into exactly what he wanted with the Mariinsky Orchestra. It’s a magnificent collaboration." Seen and Heard International
SFGATE commented: "If there’s one thing Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra do superbly well, it’s playing the music of Russian composers. (...) The centerpiece and highlight of the Mariinsky’s largely dramatic concert in Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall (...) was a performance of a piece we don’t ever get to hear: Rodion Shchedrin’s Piano Concerto No 2. The piece is hard to swallow at first, but before long its manic energy and eagerness to please – even if that means turning somersaults right into your lap – win you over. The iron-man keyboard prowess of pianist Denis Matsuev comes tearing out of the gate as if on steroids and doesn’t take a breath until its three movements are complete."
"Gergiev has truly turned the Mariinsky Orchestra into his own ‘instrument’ – and he plays it like no other. How he does that, is not always exactly clear. His style has always been unorthodox, to say the least. The level of musicianship that Gergiev reaches with the Mariinsky Orchestra is absolutely phenomenal. Theirs is really music from another world." – San Francisco Classical Voice.
The immense three-hour-long programme presented at Chicago Symphony Center was commented on by Chicago Classical Review: "Under Gergiev’s leadership, the Mariinsky remains an impressive ensemble with rich, dark strings, big, characterful winds and commanding brass. The corporate sound is more punchy than refined and occasionally raucous but always responsive."
The Chicago Tribune wrote that "Tone glowed brightly and unremittingly, with deliberateness and minimal relaxation, whether the music was by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Wagner or Richard Strauss. No one could complain the interpretations were tepid or faceless."
Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra's tour runs from 29 October to 15 November and features sixteen concerts in cities in the USA and Canada.