An evening of Russian music

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2001

Pianist Mack McCray was willing to fly to Juneau to perform with the St. Petersburg String Quartet in a hospital gown.

The concert pianist was scheduled to accompany the award-winning Russian quartet Saturday night in Juneau, but appendicitis put him out of commission this week. The show will go on without him, but he's not happy.

"Mack McCray had an emergency appendectomy this morning and he can't come," Charity Green of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council said Wednesday. "He's really mad about it and wants to come anyway, but his doctor's saying no way."

McCray was a guest instrumentalist with the group on its upcoming visit to Juneau, but the quartet's reputation as a top notch recording and performing ensemble has been built on the merits of its four Russian virtuosos.

The group was formed 16 years ago by graduates of the Leningrad Conservatory. Their rise to fame has included a Grammy nomination, Best Record of the Month honors in "Stereo Review" and "Gramophone," and hundreds of concerts at prestigious music festivals in North America, Europe and Asia. The group has been awarded dozens of prizes in international competitions and has toured the world many times over.

The St. Petersburg String Quartet includes violist Aleksy Koptev, cellist Leonid Shukaev and violinists Alla Aranovskaya and Ilya Teplyakov.

The group played in Juneau in the mid-1990s and Susan Burke, cellist with the Juneau Symphony, remembers the performance.

"It was a fabulous evening for chamber-music lovers," she said. "They were just a wonderful ensemble in the sense that they had obviously played together a long time and played off each other well as an ensemble should. Their technique was fabulous."

Saturday night's program features the music of Russian composers, Sergei Prokofiev, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Alexandr Glazunov. The concert will open with three works from Glazunov's "Five Novelettes," followed by a 20th century composition, Prokofiev's "Quartet no. 2 in F Major." After an intermission the quartet will perform Tchaikovsky's "String Quartet in D Major."

The St. Petersburg String Quartet takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Advance tickets are available in book stores for $20, $18 students and seniors, and will be $2 more at the door.


Riley Woodford can be reached at

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