Vasily Petrenko to Make Carnegie Hall Debut, 6/12
Audiences across the United States have the chance to experience the full power and passion of Vasily Petrenko's acclaimed artistry over the next four months. The Russian conductor's schedule of guest engagements, which extends from Georgia to California, Pennsylvania to New York City, includes reappearances with major orchestras and significant North American debuts. His US concert itinerary also spans a striking repertoire range, embracing everything from works by Mendelssohn, Glinka and Lalo to Corigliano, Respighi and Shostakovich. The diversity of his programmes reflects many of the interests Petrenko has pursued with distinction in concert and on record as Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Petrenko returns to work with the Houston Symphony Orchestra on Thursday 20, Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 April. Each concert comprises Verdi's Overture to Un giorno di regno, John Corigliano's The Red Violin Concerto with Elina Vähälä as soloist, and Respighi's vivid tone poems The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome. "We have three different styles here and a common connection with Italian culture and music," notes the conductor.
Corigliano's Violin Concerto began life as part of the composer's Oscar-winning film score for The Red Violin, François Girard's 1998 drama about lives touched by a rare seventeenth-century Italian violin. The work is dedicated to the memory of the composer's father, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for more than a quarter of a century. "The score is quite light in texture but still very dramatic," observes Petrenko. "The story of The Red Violin is compelling and I'm really looking forward to my first performance of the work it inspired. Respighi created the biopic of Rome in music. Whenever I hear The Pines or The Fountains of Rome, a strong visual response comes to mind. He took lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov in the early 1900s and learned so much from him about orchestration."
The combination of music and imagery also marks the opening piece in Vasily Petrenko's concerts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on Thursday 27 & Saturday 29 April. The programme begins with Richard Strauss's tone poem Don Juan and goes on to explore Mendelssohn's fiery, fleet-footed Piano Concerto No.1 in G minor, with Ingrid Fliter as soloist, and Dvo?ák's Eighth Symphony. "I'm in the process of recording Strauss's tone poems and symphonic works with the Oslo Philharmonic at present, so it will be fascinating to explore Don Juan with the excellent Atlanta players. It's a terrific showpiece for orchestra and conductor! But it also carries a philosophical story, which Strauss thought deeply about. The work's ending raises questions about the essence of human existence and how you live your life."
Mendelssohn's G minor Piano Concerto, says Petrenko, deserves to be much better known. "It has all the composer's lyricism and a soft touch to it. And Dvo?ák Eight is of course overshadowed by the 'New World' Symphony, yet it is a dramatic piece which shows that life is not always so rosy. I look forward to going back to Atlanta and am very glad to hear that they are going from strength to strength."
Russian repertoire provides the foundation for Vasily Petrenko's Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debut concerts at Heinz Hall on Friday 9 June & Sunday 12 June. His programme comprises Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, with Bezhod Abduraimov as soloist, and Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony. "I have known the Pittsburgh Symphony for many years from recordings and am now looking forward to discovering all the qualities of this great orchestra," he comments. "We will open with one of Tchaikovsky's mighty warhorses. It's a piece in which you can always find something new and where there are so many things to discover."
Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony, written in the summer of 1943, stands among the composer's greatest achievements. "It was created at a time when everybody in the Soviet Union was expecting a work proclaiming the way to victory in the Second World War," observes Petrenko. "But the piece is more about the people behind the front lines, about their heroic effort, their suffering, starvation and struggle during wartime. This was a war in which millions of civilians died. Shostakovich saw frontline destruction during the siege of Leningrad and witnessed the dignity of ordinary Russians under pressure behind the lines. That's why I think the work ends very quietly, in a state of hope for the future of humanity."
Vasily Petrenko is set to make his Carnegie Hall debut on Monday 12 June with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra 'Evgeny Svetlanov'. The concert, given to mark Russia Day, is part of an extensive international programme intended to show the best of Russian culture. "When you consider the high number of people from a Russian background who live in New York, I think this will be a very special event for them," the conductor comments. "It's a terrific initiative, which sends a clear message about art. We will perform Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto, with Pavel Milyukov as soloist, and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. I'm glad to be with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra as its Principal Guest Conductor. The orchestra has a rich tradition and very distinctive sound."
Petrenko travels from New York to California for his latest date with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, crowned by concerts at Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday 15, Friday 16, Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 June. Each performance will open with Glinka's First Spanish Overture, the 'Capriccio brillante on the Jota Aragonesa'. "For me to bring Glinka to the United States is very special," he reflects. "As Tchaikovsky said, Glinka was 'the acorn from which the oak of Russian symphonic music has grown'. He was ahead of his time in harmony and orchestration. The Jota Aragonesa has so much character."
The conductor's San Francisco concerts also include Lalo's Symphonie espagnole, with Joshua Bell as soloist, and Rachmaninov's First Symphony. "Josh is one of the most exuberant soloists today," notes Vasily Petrenko. "I'm looking forward to hearing his sparkle and individuality in a piece that shows his magnificent artistry so well. Rachmaninov One is sadly neglected from the repertoire. Its premiere was such a disaster that the composer burned his score! But it's a great piece, one in which you can sense the difficulties in Rachmaninov's life and in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. In many ways Rachmaninov was predicting the catastrophe that was to come in the next century. I have been collaborating with the San Francisco Symphony for some time and look forward to being with them again."