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A Russian Celebration – Iceland Symphony Orchestra

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Russian piano virtuoso Olga Kern first drew worldwide attention when she won first prize in the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas in 2001, the first female gold medalist in the competition’s 30-year history. Since then, she has appeared on stage in leading concert venues on both sides of the Atlantic, including Carnegie Hall in New York and La Scala in Milan. Kern last performed in Iceland over a decade ago, and many music lovers have eagerly awaited her return. One of her specialities is the music of Rachmaninoff. This evening she performs his Piano Concerto no. 3, long deemed unplayable but now one of his most beloved works.

Works by two other Russian masters round out the programme. One of the most moving love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet has inspired countless artists to create new works. In his fantasy overture, Tchaikovsky captures the tension and tragedy of the play in an unforgettable way. Igor Stravinsky catapulted onto the world stage with his 1910 ballet The Firebird, which has been considered one of the masterworks of the 20th century ever since. This performance includes a suite of the most famous numbers, among them the powerful and portentous “Infernal dance of King Kashchei”.

At the podium is Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason, assistant conductor at the Iceland Symphony, who has garnered deserved praise for his performances in recent years.

Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no. 3
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet, fantasy overture
Igor Stravinsky The Firebird, suite

Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason

Olga Kern