The MSSO was founded in 1943 by the Kremlin and is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in Russia. Initially it was best known for its performances of Russian and Soviet classical music, including premieres of works by Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra later became renowned around the globe under the leadership of Pavel Kogan. who became Music Director and Chief Conductor in 1989, and enriched the orchestra with European and American classical repertoire.
The MSSO has earned a reputation for presenting the cycles of complete symphonic works from leading composers, including Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, R. Strauss, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Bruckner, Sibelius, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Scriabin, Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel. The orchestra’s wide-ranging programmes combine great orchestral, operatic, and choral classics with equally significant music of the 21st century, including many forgotten or neglected works. Their Rachmaninov cycle, released by Alto, which recorded all the symphonies and symphonic dances, has become a chart-topping album.
The MSSO has a proud history of collaborating with eminent conductors and soloists including Evgeny Svetlanov, Kirill Kondrashin, Aleksandr Orlov, Natan Rahlin, Samuil Samosud, Valery Gergiev, David Oistrakh, Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Vladimir Sofronitsky, Sergei Lemeshev, Ivan Kozlovsky, Svyatoslav Knushevitskyi, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich and Daniil Shafran. The orchestra’s partnership with Pavel Kogan has earned the orchestra an enviable reputation for high standards of artistic excellence, imaginative programming and community engagement, having a broad and loyal following around the world.
Maestro Pavel Kogan’s career has spanned over 40 years and five continents and has led him to becoming one of the most respected and widely known Russian conductors of our time. He was born into a distinguished musical family – his parents are legendary violinists Leonid Kogan and Elizaveta Gilels and his uncle is the inimitable pianist Emil Gilels. From an early age Maestro Kogan’s artistic development was divided between conducting and violin. He was granted special permission to study both disciplines at the same time which was an extreme rarity in the Soviet Union.
In 1970 eighteen-year-old Pavel Kogan, a violin pupil of Yuri Yankelevich at the Moscow Conservatory, won 1st prize in the Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki. Thereafter he appeared regularly as a violinist in concerts around the world. As a conducting pupil of Ilya Musin and Leo Ginsburg, in 1972 the young Maestro gave his debut with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra and subsequently focused more on conducting.
Since 1989 Pavel Kogan has been the Music Director and Chief Conductor of the eminent Moscow State Symphony Orchestra (MSSO), building it into one of Russia’s most widely known and highly acclaimed orchestras. From 1998-2005 he served as principal guest conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Kogan appeared with many prominent orchestras across the world. Hehas recorded countless works with the MSSO and other ensembles, which became a major contribution to the world’s musical culture. Many of his albums have garnered great acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Maestro Kogan was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation for his performance of the complete symphonies and vocal cycles of Gustav Mahler. In 2014 Kogan was appointed Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, for his contribution to music in France. He is a member of the Russian Academy of Arts, recipient of the “Order of Merit” of Russia and of the title “Peoples’ Artist of Russia” among other Russian and overseas awards.
Unanimously described as one of the leading pianists of his generation, John Lill’s concert career spans over 55 years. He has given concerts in over fifty countries, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with the world’s greatest orchestras. His rare talent emerged at an early age – he gave his first piano recital at the age of nine. At eighteen he performed Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto under Sir Adrian Boult, immediately followed by his much-acclaimed London début playing Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall. His early career flourished and was enhanced by many prestigious international prizes and awards. In 1970 he won the most coveted of these, the Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition, further consolidating his already busy international concert schedule.
John Lill’s extensive repertoire includes more than eighty concertos, and he is acclaimed in particular as a leading interpreter of Beethoven, whose complete sonata cycle he has performed on several occasions in the UK, USA and Japan. In Britain he has given over 25 London Promenade concerts and regularly appears with all the major symphony orchestras. He has toured overseas with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham, Hallé, Royal Scottish National and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras.
He regularly performs in all the European capitals, Russia, the Far East, South America, Australasia, (including several ABC tours) and he is a frequent visitor to the United States, where he has worked with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the Orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Rochester, San Diego, Seattle and Washington.
More recently John Lill has performed with the St Petersburg, Rotterdam, Royal Stockholm, Czech, Oslo, London and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hallé Orchestra, National Philharmonic of Russia, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Tonkünstler Orchestra and RTVE Orchestra Madrid, together with the Vancouver, Seattle, Indianapolis, Bournemouth, Royal Scottish National and Sapporo Symphony Orchestras. He also regularly gives recitals throughout the UK and Europe, USA, China, Russia, Japan and Australia. The 13-14 season saw John embark on a much acclaimed Beethoven Sonata Cycle in London and Manchester, in celebration of his 70th Birthday, as well as recitals at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall and the Grand Hall of St Petersburg Philharmonia. He also returned to Moscow to perform all the Beethoven Concerti with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Vladimir Spivakov. Highlights of the 14-15 season include concerts with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, as well as a recital tour of Japan and a return visit to the Teatro Mayor in Santo Domingo in Columbia.
John Lill has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI (Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with RSNO and Gibson), ASV (both Brahms Concertos with the Hallé and Loughran) plus the complete Beethoven Sonatas and Pickwick Records (Tchaikovsky l with the LSO and Judd). More recently he has recorded the complete Prokofiev sonatas with ASV and his recent recording of the complete Beethoven Bagatelles and Piano Concertos with the CBSO and Weller is available on Chandos. He recorded Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy on a Theme of John Field (dedicated to John Lill) with RPO and Handley for Conifer and the complete Rachmaninov Concertos and major solo piano works for Nimbus Records. His most recent recording projects have been the 60th birthday release of piano works by Schumann on the Classics for Pleasure label and 2 new releases for Signum records of Schumann and Brahms and Haydn Piano Sonatas.
John Lill has been awarded many Honorary Doctorates and Fellowships from British Universities, Colleges and Academies. He lives in London and was awarded the OBE in 1977 and the CBE for his services to music in the 2005 New Year’s Honours’ List.