This year’s Gergiev Festival on 10 to 12 September in Rotterdam was made all the more interesting by the inclusion of a performance of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony played by students from Codarts Rotterdam and KC Den Haag and conducted by Valery Gergiev himself. This was another vintage collaboration between the two conservatoires which produced a most impressive reading of the symphony. There were some beautiful wind and brass solos but perhaps the stars of the show were the first violins who brought such intensity to the work. The festival was given over almost entirely to works of Rachmaninov with fine playing from the Rotterdam Philharmonic in the 3rd Symphony and Paganini Variations (soloist, Behzod Abduraimov) and from the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in the 1st Symphony and Symphonic Dances. The RPhO finished with amazing performances of the four piano concerti with Alexei Volodin (No 1), Dmitry Masleev (No 2), Alexander Gavrylyuk (No 3) and Sergei Babayan (No 4) – a true feast. Thanks go to Valery Gergiev for including the students in this amazing festival.

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