Vasily Petrenko’s diverse European guest conducting engagements continue this season with Verdi’s Requiem in London, Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy in The Netherlands, Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra in Copenhagen and Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony in Cologne
Vasily Petrenko’s richly appointed 2016-17 schedule, built around his extensive commitments as Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra, contains space for a series of prestigious guest conducting dates in Europe over the coming months. Verdi’s Requiem stands among his itinerary’s glittering highlights. The conductor will perform the monumental work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bach Choir at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday 13 April, his only London appearance this season.
“I love to perform Verdi’s Requiem, one of the greatest of all choral works,” notes Petrenko. “To do it with a tremendous choir, the Royal Philharmonic and a team of carefully chosen soloists is very special.” He will be joined by soprano Maija Kovalevska, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, tenor Samir Pirgu and bass Alexander Vinogradov, four outstanding representatives of the younger generation of opera singers. “This is among the clear highlights of my season,” the conductor continues. “I have conducted the piece several times now, first sang in it when I was about nine as a member of the St Petersburg Cappella boys’ choir, and have even been the bass soloist in one performance! The work means a great deal to me.”
Before turning to Verdi, Vasily Petrenko is set to return to work with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Their latest collaboration opens with a late-night performance of Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy in Utrecht on Thursday 2 March, part of Netherlands Radio’s ‘Pieces of Tomorrow’ series for young audiences. “To bring younger people to that work will be a special thing for me,” he comments. Conductor and orchestra reconvene for two further concerts, in Utrecht and at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Friday 3 & Sunday 5 March). Their programme comprises Glazunov’s Violin Concerto, with Maria Milstein as soloist, The Poem of Ecstasy and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.3.
Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic released a recording of Scriabin’s Poem on LAWO in the autumn of 2016 as part of an ongoing project to record the composer’s work. The next instalment, Symphony No.1 is being recorded in Oslo in May. “My passion for Scriabin continues to grow and deepen,” comments Petrenko. “He was a great composer and thinker whose Poem expresses the ecstasy of the spirit that grows out of the will to create. I’m looking forward to working with the excellent Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra again and to creating this ecstasy with them. The Glazunov Violin Concerto went out of fashion for some time but is now being performed by many fine soloists. I am also trying to bring it back into the repertoire mainstream. It’s a great opportunity to perform this piece with Maria Milstein in the Netherlands. Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony, written in the mid-1930s, is a work of nostalgia for his lost Russian homeland. Its opening theme, built from just two notes, triggers a massive flood of memories from a composer recalling the Russia he remembered from his youth.”
Vasily Petrenko looks forward to two concerts with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at the Koncerthuset in Copenhagen’s new DR Byen (Thursday 4 & Saturday 6 May). The programme for both performances opens with Liszt’s Les préludes, the third of his thirteen symphonic poems. “Les préludes is arguably the most famous of Liszt’s tone poems,” comments the conductor. “It has a strong dramatic programme behind it and a rich orchestration. For me, it’s the closest thing to Tchaikovsky that Liszt created with much in common in its language and the passion that lies behind it. Les préludes was one of the obligatory pieces for conducing students at the St Petersburg Conservatory, so I have known it since my time there. I first conducted it with a student orchestra and look forward to returning to it again.”
Liszt prefaces the work of another Hungarian composer: Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.2, with Augustin Hadelich as soloist. “Our recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra was released on the LPO Live label at the beginning of February. Augustin is a tremendous soloist and always finds new horizons even in the most famous of compositions. His interpretations always offer something unusual or things that you haven’t thought about before. I’m looking forward to working with him again and to discovering his vision of the Bartók.” Petrenko will bring his Copenhagen concerts to a close with Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra. “I have performed Zarathustra many times,” he recalls. “It’s not just about Nietzsche’s philosophy as presented by Zarathustra; it is about Strauss communicating as a prophet with the people, dancing with excitement while exploring the beauty of nature and its relationship to human life.”
Vasily Petrenko’s summer schedule includes two concerts with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. They will perform Shostakovich’s two piano concertos with Anna Vinnitskaya as soloist and Zoltan Kodály’s Dances from Galanta at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Recklinghausen on Friday 30 June before moving to the Cologne Philharmonie on Saturday 1 July 2017. Vinnitskaya joins the orchestra in Cologne for Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto, as part of a programme complete with Edward Elgar’s concert overture In the South (Alassio) and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. ““That’s a lot of music for our latest project,” notes Petrenko. “It is always a great pleasure to perform with the WDR Symphony, and I look forward to working with them on programmes that contain so much variety and so many different creative perspectives.”