The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra withdraws due to COVID-19; Mikhail Pletnev [pictured] steps in with a rare all-Chopin recital and a chamber music encounter with cellist Mischa Maisky and violinist Daniel Lozakovich


The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra advised the Riga Jurmala Music Festival that it would be forced to cancel its scheduled performances on 6 and 7 August 2021 for COVID-related reasons. Although it proved impossible to find a replacement for the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in less than three weeks, the Festival was fortunate to rely on the invaluable support of pianist Mikhail Pletnev, cellist Mischa Maisky and violinist Daniel Lozakovich to swiftly engineer a weekend of recitals and chamber music. Three of the five scheduled concerts will remain unchanged (except for changes of dates and venues).

Arguably one of today’s greatest pianists, Mikhail Pletnev’s performances at the piano are quite few and far between.  In the space of three days, audiences of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival will exceptionally be able to hear him three times, including once in a rare solo piano recital. 

Martin T:son Engstroem, Artistic Director of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival, said, “We are fully supportive of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s decision, which has been forced to cease all activity until the end of September. We hope all the members of the orchestra, the staff and Maestro Yuri Temirkanov stay safe and healthy during these persistently precarious times and look forward to welcoming them in Latvia in the future. I am at loss for words to thank Mikhail Pletnev, Mischa Maisky and Daniel Lozakovich for rising to the occasion. We would have of course preferred to adhere to our Festival’s concept but under the current circumstances we felt it was more important to adapt and nevertheless offer a fabulous programme to our audiences.”

For its first weekend, the Festival remarkably dealt with the cancellation of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra by creating a new ensemble – the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra – in less than four weeks.

Zane Čulkstēna, Executive Director of the Riga Jurmala Music Festival said, “The Riga Jurmala Music Festival’s first weekend was a huge success, being one of Europe’s first international music festivals to welcome 100% capacity audiences without masks. Over 3,500 Festival visitors across five concerts gave spontaneous standing ovations, showing how deeply moved and excited they were by hearing live performances after such a long absence. Our team is determined to meet every challenge and to find every solution to meet our commitments to our audiences this summer, with their health and safety as our primary focus at all times. We are very grateful to the artists to have helped us out at such short notice.”

Existing ticketholders to the concerts of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra will be contacted directly by the Riga Jurmala Music Festival to offer them different options, including a full refund.


The new programmes will take place on Friday August 6 at 19.00 with an evening of chamber music featuring the unique combination of violinist Daniel Lozakovich, cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Mikhail Pletnev (programme includes Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A minor, op. 50). It will be followed on Saturday, August 7 at 12.00 with a recital of pianist Yoav Levanon (programme includes Mozart Sonata No. 18 in D major, K. 576, Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178, Mediņš Daina no. 14 in E-flat major, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (solo piano version)) and at 19.00 with an evening recital of pianist Mikhail Pletnev who will perform Chopin (Impromptu No. 3 in G flat major, op. 51, a selection of 13 Mazurkas and Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, op. 58).

On Sunday, August 8 at 12.00 Daniel Lozakovich and Mikhail Pletnev will perform Shubert, Schumann and Franck (Sonatina in D major, op. 137, no. 1, D.384, Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, op. 105 and Violin Sonata in A major), whereas the evening recital will be performed by the pianist Arcadi Volodos.

The evening concerts will take place at the Dzintari Concert Hall in Jurmala and the noon concerts will take place at the Great Guild in Riga.