“Together we can achieve so much artistically”

Kirill Petrenko conducts works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Adams

Kirill Petrenko
(Photo: Wilfried Hösl)

Kirill Petrenko returns to the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time since his election as the orchestra’s future chief conductor – with a programme that ranges from the First Viennese School to Romanticism to contemporary music: In addition to Mozart’s Haffner Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique he also conducts The Wound-Dresser by John Adams, the orchestra’s Composer in Residence this season. Petrenko will also present these three works at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden. As he revealed during the press conference of his contract signing in October 2016, he views his new role which he takes up in August 2019 with optimism: “Through my few guest appearances with this orchestra, I have gained the impression that together we can achieve so much artistically.”

Spectacular debut

Even when he made his debut with the Philharmoniker in February 2006, Petrenko impressed the orchestra with his personality and his way of music-making, which is meticulous, scrupulous, yet passionate and exciting. “When you stand before an orchestra, so many sonic possibilities come to a conductor. Anyone who does not have their own point of view about the sound falls through the cracks,” Petrenko said in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall. At that time, he was already known to Berlin audiences – as general music director of the Komische Oper. He took up this office in the 2002/2003 season, and from that point took his orchestra to the highest musical heights. The Komische Oper was his springboard into the global music scene: Petrenko now conducts at the Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera and in Bayreuth, where he conducted the Ring des Nibelungen in the staging by Hans Castorf. Since the 2013/2014 season, Petrenko has been general music director of the Bayerische Staatsoper where he has celebrated one triumph after another. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester, one of Germany’s outstanding opera orchestras, has – according to the press – become even better, with a more slender tone and more precise intonation. The magazine Opernwelt has now named Petrenko “Conductor of the Year” on several occasions.

Challenging and fulfilling

Petrenko, who was born in Omsk and studied both in his home town and Vienna, initially learned his craft in smaller houses: at the Vorarlberger Landestheater, the Vienna Volksoper and the Meininger Theater, where he conducted a much-admired Ring des Nibelungen together with Christine Mielitz. In concerts with the Phiharmoniker, Petrenko – who still feels very much at home in Berlin – has presented himself since his debut as an interpreter of the Russian masters as well as with works by Béla Bartók, Edward Elgar and Ludwig van Beethoven. His last concerts with the orchestra in December 2012 included Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy plus two works by Rudi Stephan, a brilliant composer who died when still young. An unusual but exciting programme which reflected the various aspects of Petrenko’s artistic work. As the conductor said in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall, a concert programme is successful when the musicians play something where they have some fun, and the audience hears something which can both teach them something and move them at the same time. For Petrenko, standing in front of the Berliner Philharmoniker is both challenging and fulfilling at the same time: “I hope for many moments of artistic happiness in our music-making together which will reward our hard work and fill our lives as artists with meaning.”

Applause after the concert on 22 March 2017
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)