New Chief Conductor’s impressive Beethoven and stellar Elgar hits the Digital Concert Hall.
To help audiences become better acquainted with their incoming Chief Conductor Kirill Petrenko, the Berlin Philharmonic has added a fine concert and a revealing interview to their Digital Concert Hall and made both entirely free-to-view. Given his miniscule available discography, the Russsian maestro’s reading of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with Lars Vogt and his perhaps unusual choice of Elgar’s Second Symphony will be essential viewing for anyone wondering what to expect in the future.
Having made an applauded debut with the BPO in 2006 with works by Rachmaninov and Bartók, this concert from 2009 was the conductor’s anticipated second appearance. The Beethoven receives a thoroughly effective performance but it’s Edward Elgar’s Second Symphony that stands out, receiving a powerful, romantic and impassioned performance. The work is a rarity for the orchestra – before this concert, the last time they played the work was in 1972.
Petrenko was elected as the next Chief Conductor Designate in June, breaking what appeared to be a deadlock after their previous electoral ‘conclave’. Already the artistic leader of the Bavarian State Opera, he comes with an excellent reputation for Wagner garnered over several seasons at the Bayreuth Festival. Their new Chief was chosen over higher profile rivals Christian Thielemann and Gustavo Dudamel and was considered an outsider for the job having only guest conducted the orchestra three times in the past.
In the interview recorded after the concert, Petrenko who is regarded as relatively media averse, speaks candidly of nerves before his BPO debut. “In the rehearsals I was very shy,” he admits. “I was thinking, what should I say? Should I ask them to play this one more time or should I better not ask them? In the rehearsals I was very unhappy with myself.” For his second appearance, however, he was determined to be more natural. “This time, whatever happens I will try to work with this great orchestra the same as I work with any other orchestra,” he says. Going on to speak passionately about his choice of music, the conductor exudes considerable charm, a real modesty, and demonstrates excellent English.