Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week celebrates two milestones: the 90th anniversary of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the 80th birthday of Neeme Jӓrvi, its principal conductor.
The album’s title “Strauss in St. Petersburg” refers to the visits that Johann Strauss II made to St. Petersburg between 1856 and 1869. During his trips, Strauss wrote a number of pieces for specific people and events. This album includes many of those works, such as the Grand Duchess Alexandra Waltz, the Homage to St. Petersburg Quadrille, the Russian March, the Coronation March for Tsar Alexander II and the Farewell to St. Petersburg.
Strauss programmed and conducted many concerts during his trips to Russia. The concerts often included pieces that he had already composed and premiered in Vienna, such as the Court Ball Quadrille, Pleasure Train, and the famous Wine, Women and Song! waltz.
The album “Strauss in St. Petersburg” also includes a Romance composed by Olga Smirnitskaya. Strauss and Smirnitskaya were briefly romantically involved during one of his summers in St. Petersburg. He programmed some of her compositions on the concerts that he conducted. She composed this Romance nearly 20 years after their affair and sent it to him as a musical memento of their time together.
The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1926 as a radio orchestra. Neeme Jӓrvi was its principal conductor between 1963 and 1979. He resumed that post in 2010 after having served as music director for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.