Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra LCO

“I demand of the orchestra what I strive to achieve myself: the highest instrumental and technical quality of performance, constantly seeking new approaches to interpretation. I believe this is achievable, and that the LCO is worthy of its rightful place among Europe’s top ten chamber orchestras.”

“The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra is like an instrument of the highest quality, with its own sound and traditions of interpretation. I rank this orchestra among the leaders of its kind. Fifty years is a long time. Few orchestras in Europe can boast such a glorious past.”

Sergej Krylov

Founded in 1960 by Professor Saulius Sondeckis (artistic director and conductor, 1960-2004), the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (LCO) is recognized as one of the finest Lithuanian orchestras and one of the most internationally renowned. On April 23, 1960, the LCO began rehearsing as a new group and was invited to give its first public concert on October 30 of the same year, winning immediate recognition from audiences and critics both in Lithuania and abroad.

Today, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra not only maintains a high level of artistic excellence, but also explores new creative resources and presents original programs every year.

Sergej Krylov was appointed Artistic Director of the LCO in December 2008, after several successful appearances at the Vilnius National Philharmonic. His wide range of knowledge and contacts in the music world, as well as his qualities as a musician and his professional experience, have enabled the orchestra to reach a higher professional level. Critics have been full of praise for the dynamic musical partnership between the orchestra and its new conductor: “a harmonious relationship with the orchestra”, “absolute harmony between the violinist-conductor and the orchestra”, “a charming, aristocratic gallantry, without undue familiarity, but with confidence in each other”.

“I demand of the orchestra what I myself strive to achieve: the highest instrumental and technical quality of interpretation, always on the lookout for new approaches to interpretation. I believe this is achievable, and that the LCO deserves its place among Europe’s top ten chamber orchestras”, hopes Krylov, whose ambitious projects stimulate LCO members to muster the strength and energy needed to take on new creative challenges.

Very early on, the LCO became the first Lithuanian orchestra to receive official permission to tour outside the Soviet Union: in 1966, it gave two concerts in what was then the German Democratic Republic. This young, energetic group, made up of Lithuania’s finest string instrumentalists, was immediately noticed by music professionals and audiences alike. Ten years later, in 1976, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra embarked on an even more intense progression towards the international music scene, performing at the Echternach Festival in Luxemburg, where it received a very warm welcome from the critics. This success has led to numerous engagements in the world’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals.

Over the years, his tours have spanned Europe, the Americas, Cuba, Egypt, the Republic of South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, China and Japan (six times!). The LCO has become a favorite at the Echternach International Festival, where it has performed seven times and received the festival’s Grand Lion medal. He has been applauded on numerous occasions in major European venues such as Berlin’s Philharmonie, Vienna’s Musikverein, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Paris’s Salle Pleyel and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus. He has performed four times at the renowned Salzburg and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals, and has returned several times to the Ansbach Bachwoche, the “December Nights of Sviatoslav Richter” at the Pushkin State Museum in Moscow, the Rheingau Music Festival, the Ivo Pogorelich Festi-val, the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Berlin Festspiele, the Ludwigsburg Festival and many other festivals.

Among the many world-famous masters of the baton who have led the LCO on its many tours, the legendary Sir Yehudi Menuhin stands out for his particular affinity and generosity towards this group of Lithuanian musicians. From his first rehearsals with the LCO in Spain in 1992 until his death in 1999, he conducted nearly 60 concerts on the orchestra’s annual tours – from Bergen to Cairo. Some of these interpretations have been recorded, such as Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung and Schubert’s Masses no. 4 and no. 5 (with the Kaunas State Choir and a team of international soloists; all these recordings have been released by Apex). A large number of eminent soloists from various countries and generations have joined the orchestra for con-certs, including violinists Gidon Kremer, Tatiana Grindenko, Igor Oistrakh, Sergei Stadler, Oleg Kagan, Vladimir Spivakov, Gil Shaham, Daniel Hope, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Sasha Rozhdestvensky, Sarah Chang, Tamaki Kawakubo, Arabella Steinbacher, and Janine Jansen ; violists Yuri Bashmet and Maxim Rysanov; cellists Mstislav Rostropovich, Natalia Gutman, Natalia Shakhovskaya, Karine Georgian, David Geringas, Mark Drobinsky, Mischa Maisky, Alexander Kniazev, Danjulo Ishizaka and Denis Shapovalov; pianists Justus Frantz, Evgeny Kissin, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Elisso Virsaladze, Alexei Liubimov, Dmitry Bashkirov, Vladimir Krainev, Sergei Babayan, Barry Douglas, Denis Matsuyev, and Alexei Volodin; trumpeters Timofei Dokshizer, Guy Touvron, Reinhold Friedrich, Gábor Boldoczki and Sergei Nakariakov ; flutists Aurèle Nicolet, Jean Pierre Rampal and Camilla Hoitenga; oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk; singers José van Dam, Elena Obraztsova and Virgilijus Noreika, among many others.

Over these five decades, the LCO has not only produced countless programs in close collaboration with various soloists, conductors and choirs, but also over a hundred recordings of a varied repertoire, with a particular focus on the music of Bach and Mozart. German tours in 2000 and 2001, with legendary British actor and narrator Sir Peter Ustinov as narrator, led to the unique recording of Ludwig van Beethoven’s ballet music The Creatures of Prometheus (conducted by Karl Anton Rickenbacher and released on the RCA Red Seal label), which became a BMG bestseller. Several collaborations and tours with the young Russian trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov led to the recording of Echoes from the past, featuring transcriptions of concertos by Hummel, Mozart, Weber and Saint-Saëns (Teldec Classics, 2002), which received 5 stars in the classical CD category.

“Thanks to the clear articulation of the performers, every sound of Joseph Haydn’s roulades became as if crystalline, clear and transparent, with delicate dynamics. The quality of the ensemble and the orchestra’s excellent teamwork gave the impression that a single performer, a body composed of a multitude of individual cells, was playing on stage…”

In addition to baroque and classical masterpieces, the orchestra has often included new works in its programs and recordings. He has always been an active promoter of Lithuanian mu-sic, having performed over 200 works by M.K. Čiurlionis, Balys Dvarionas, Stasys Vainiūnas, Eduardas Balsys, Julius Juzeliūnas, Teisutis Makačinas, Vytautas Barkauskas, Jonas Tamu-lionis, Arvydas Malcys, Algirdas Martinaitis, Mindaugas Urbaitis, Raminta Šerkšnytė and Justė Janulytė. He has also given a number of world premieres of works by internationally renowned composers such as Rodion Shchedrin, Edison Denisov, Sergei Slonimsky, Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt and Pēteris Vasks. Some of these works were composed in close collaboration with the orchestra and are dedicated to it.

Photographic credits:
© D. Matvejevas