After enjoying the sunny Lissabon I returned back to the northeast of Europe, and my next concert was with the Pärnu City Orchestra. Pärnu is of course a familiar destination to me, since I have taught there several conducting masterclasses (the latest just a month before!) and performed there in a joint concert with my former orchestra St Michel Strings. In my cellist past I also visited Pärnu in the ranks of a Finnish-Estonian orchestra called Sinfonietta Odysseus.


The program for this concert was just great. The opener was "Orawa" by the Polish composer Kilar, and this is one of those crowd pleasers that are not so interesting to rehearse (because the idiom is minimalistic) but that really catches fire in the concert. For a long time I had wanted to program this piece, but in Mikkeli there was never a chance to do it. After that we performed Shostakovich piano concerto No. 1, with the trumpet player of the orchestra Karl Vakker, and a young promising Estonian pianist Johan Randvere, who happened to take part in my conducting masterclass in Pärnu a year ago.

I opened the second half with Glazunov's Serenade No. 2 for a small orchestra, and the final piece was Mozart's symphony No. 40. This famous symphony has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager, but this was really the first time I could conduct it in a concert, despite conducting it during my studies both in Russia and Finland and even assisting the late Kurt Masur in Paris when he conducted it. I was so happy finally to perform it, and the Pärnu orchestra did a great job with it. I hope to return to Pärnu many times in the future, both for great standard repertoire like Mozart, and new discoveries like Kilar.