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Mahler man

Gilbert Kaplan is a businessman with little musical training who has learnt to conduct Mahler's 2nd symphony. Last year he was in St Petersburg, next month it's Moscow

By Duncan Fallowell   February 1999

The philharmonic hall in St Petersburg is, along with the gallery at the Royal Albert Hall, my favourite place in the world for listening to orchestral music. Built in the 1830s by the architect Jacquot to a design by Carlo Rossi, it has sheltered the premi?res of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Tchaikovsky’s Sixth (Path?tique) and Shostakovitch’s Seventh (Leningrad). The building has always oozed a cool grandeur and glamour, placed as it is between the Kazan cathedral and the Russian museum, and opposite the belle ?poque Grand Europe Hotel. Yet it somehow possesses that same Russian intimacy which makes St Petersburg a…

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