Dedicated to Yuri Yankelevich


Maestro Ashkenazy, the accomplished Russian pianist and conductor, lives at present in Iceland. He started off his impressive career as a pianist. In 1962, he was one of two winners of the lst prize at the 2nd International Tchaikovsky Competition but, a year later, he took the decision to leave his country, as it then seemed, forever. Throughout his life, Vladimir Ashkenasy has been very active on the concert platform, he also has an extraordinarily comprehensive recording catalogue. He has played and recorded all the piano works of Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, as well as all five of Prokofiev's piano concertos. And here too, he won great acclaim, carrying off six Grammies!

However, in time, it was conducting which came to occupy first place in Vladimir Ashkenazy's professional life. From 2004-2007, he was Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, and he also holds the position of Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra. And at once, he has maintained close links with, among other orchestras, the London Philharmonia (Conductor Laureate), the Cleveland Symphony (former Principal Guest Conductor), and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin till 1993; Chief Conductor and Music Director 1988-96). It is not often that the Maestro appears in Moscow, thus his performance with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra may be considered a real treat for Moscow audiences.

However, violinist Boris Belkin's Moscow appearances are even rarer. Born in 1948, by 1955, Belkin was already attracting attention as a child classical music prodigy. He made his first public appearance aged seven, with conductor Kyril Kondrashin. And, as distinct to many other child music prodigies, his concert career has flourished ever since. Its peak in the USSR was his victory (1973) at the lst All-Union Competition of Violinists. But a year later, as was the case with Ashkenazy, he took the decision to leave his country.

In the West, Boris Belkin carved out a brilliant career for himself, appearing with leading orchestras (including the Berlin Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Cleveland Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony), and conductors (Bernstein, Dutoit, Maazel, Mehta, Muti, Osawa, Temirkanov, and others). From 1992-95, Boris Belkin was Artistic Director of the Salzburg Chamber Soloists Orchestra. He also takes annual master classes at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena.

And yet this concert will be something more than a joint performance of two outstanding emigre musicians who, today, are names of world renown. Both men started their education at the famous Moscow Central Music School attached to the Moscow Conservatoire. This school is well-known in Russia and abroad for producing musicians of the caliber of Ashkenazy and Belkin. The Moscow Central Music School has always attracted the country's best teachers, who were often Moscow Conservatoire professors. Among them was the accomplished violinist and legendary teacher, Yuri Yankelevich, who stands comparison with such eminent pedagogues as Leopold Auer, Pyotr Stolyarsky, Abrahm Yampolsky. To this day, the Russian-Soviet violin school is considered to be the best in the world. And contributing to this glorious fame are Yankelevich's outstanding students - Viktor Tretyakov, Vladimir Spivakov, Tatiana Grindenko, Alexander Brusilovsky and many others. Boris Belkin too studied with Yuri Yankelevich. And as the latter's one hundredth anniversary is to be celebrated this year, Belkin and Ashkenazy have decided to dedicate their Moscow concert with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra to the great teacher's memory.

Boris Lifanovsky