Debut: Dima Slobodeniouk

The Russian conductor with works by Sibelius, Shostakovich and Prokofiev

(Photo: Marco Borggreve)

BBC Music Magazine attested to his interpretations of “power, intelligence and sophistication”, while the reviewer of the Kölnische Rundschau reported a “finely modelled sound aesthetic” in which “dance-like lightness and transparency” flourished. We are talking about Dima Slobodeniouk, who trained as a concert violinist in his home town of Moscow before devoting himself to orchestral conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki from 1996 onwards – under the guidance of Leif Segerstam and Jorma Panula, among others, and further studies which led him to Ilja Musin and Esa-Pekka Salonen. The combination of the musical strengths of both countries has made Slobodeniouk one of the most interesting conductors of the younger generation.

From violinist to conductor

He now holds several leading positions: he has been chief conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia in La Coruña since 2013, and from last season, he has also been head of the Finnish Sinfonia Lahti and artistic director of the internationally renowned Sibelius Festival. In addition to these commitments, Slobodeniouk receives invitations to conduct as a guest with major international orchestras. When he made his debut with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in September 2017, he said of his career: “The only way to build a house is brick by brick. There are no shortcuts.”

Finnish-Russian programme

For his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Dima Slobodeniouk pays tribute to his artistic roots with a Finnish-Russian programme. The concert opens with Jean Sibelius’ last tone poem Tapiola, in which we seem to hear both the wistful murmur of the god Tapio and the dancing of the goblins and forest spirits. “Finnish music – Sibelius – is a big part of me. So I brought myself along!” The programme continues with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Second Violin Concerto, whose emotional core – the melodic Adagio – alternates between melancholy and internalisation. The soloist is the Riga-born violinist Baiba Skride who enjoys an artistically prolific friendship with both Slobodeniouk and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The culmination of the concert is Sergei Prokofiev’s rarely heard Second Symphony – a work with which its composer offered evidence that in addition to his so-called Classical symphony created seven years earlier which echoed the style of the late 18th century, he still had other, equally powerful, intelligent and sophisticated compositional cards up his sleeve.