The Russians and the American

No, not that American. The St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra made its fifth appearance as part of CAMA Santa Barbara’s International Series. The program began with famed American Pianist Garrik Ohlsson in the soloist’s seat for an alternately powerful and sensitive performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 15. The second half of the program was a decidedly more modern and intense affair. The St Pete premiered Dimitri Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony in E Minor in 1953 after Stalin died, under the baton of the composer’s son Maxim. Conductor Nikolay Alexeev returned to the Granada stage to lead this arguably most significant of Russian orchestras in a nuanced and vigorous performance of this ferocious work that has sometimes been seen as the composer’s summing up of the Soviet Union under the rule of Stalin.