Wednesday, 9 December 2009

With a hint of snow!

Hello everyone from a cold snowy St.Petersburg (less than inch of snow and melting due to +4 today!) At least, no rains everyday )))
Enjoying peace and tranquillity for a couple of days in my home town, and more precisely in a country-house, is a rare time in my life. Re-reading Chekhov, Dostoevsky and, of course, music scores, walking on the silent streets of this village... next time I’ll be able to do it by the end of July.
It’s been quite intensive and exciting couple of months from beginning of season, we’ve got a few awards with RLPO, and you’ve attended a few decent concerts! Last weeks in London (and Cheltenham, Basingstoke, Cambridge), Liverpool (and Blackburn) and Oslo (and...Oslo one more time) were very interesting for me and quite tough because of flu around, which cost a lot of replacements in orchestras, sometime in a very last moment!
Briefly, Philharmonia went very well and I have a huge respect for musicians, who work all around the year and all around the World (we rehearsed with them in East Croydon, week after mine they’ve travelled in Europe with Mahler 9 every night in a different town!) in such a difficult schedule and still give a huge energy in a concerts. We will play together again quite soon. Brahms/Tchaikovsky concert was really exciting because of Arcadi’s great playing and because of clear sign of progress, which RLPO made since 2006, when we’ve performed 4th Symphony first time. Oslo Philharmonic did amazing concerts with Prokofiev 5 and Elgar Violin Concerto and it’s been very easy to understand each other (perhaps because of Mariss) and I felt very comfortable instead of extreme prices in the shops and restaurants. Actually it’s a great way of savings – look, don’t buy and think how much you saved! ;)
Answering question about upcoming concerts: 22nd December Salamanca, 23rd December Valladolid with Julia Lezhneva; 6th January Stoke-on-Trent, 7th January Liverpool with NYO; 10th January St.Petersburg Mahler 3, 16th January Liverpool Mahler 1. And so on till late summer!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Russian fest

Glad to read, that last few concerts has been appreciated a lot, as well as few awards, received by the Phil. As always excited by the amount of attendees which keeps growing!
Thanks a lot as well for your response on the question of new hall – at least now discussion is open and taken quite seriously. Main question apart from a budget will be location, and this is really tough! I think new building should be somewhere in central Liverpool, I know that it’s a lot of pressure to stay on Hope Street, but in my point of view best option then might be “a new spectacular 21-century building” next to the Phil!
In a last few weeks being as usual extremely busy (it’s been a big pleasure to see some of Liverpoodlians in Moscow!) I’ve seen a lot of examples how the new buildings improved classical music life in other cities – many years ago in Boston, in a middle of 20th Century in Moscow and more recently in Granada (where current hall under renovation now) and Monte-Carlo. After all I still believe that whatever will happen in my and RLPO life’s, new building will benefit Liverpool forever!
Regarding Orchestra layout last week – idea is to bring more of contrabasses into general balance and have them more involved in performance. I think it’s been quite exciting experiment and we will repeat it in a future. But it’ll be possible in case of small percussion section (as last week), otherwise there is no space, and this is again about needs of new hall...

P.S. I would recommend to everyone attend Saturday’s concert, all music there is absolutely fantastic and not too often performed, so, grab your chance!

P.P.S. If you kept reading till this point, you probably guessing about the title on the top – this is a little test for you, do you know which fest is in Russia today?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

New season

Hello everyone!
Glad to see so many people in a last week's concert! If you like Shostakovich 10, we did recording of it as well - follow Naxos releases. For sure, there are plenty more exciting concerts ahead at the Phil and Cathedral!
Following discussion about new hall or improvement of current one, I would like to ask you:
- what do you think must be improved at the Phil first?
- where do you think need to be a new building?
- which style might be a new building?
- how do you think will be possible to find a budget?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Prom with NYO

So, what do you think about this Prom? How does it looked and how was a sound?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

St.Petersburg

Finally… I’ve got a good and fast internet connection first time in a last couple of weeks! At the moment I’m waiting for my flight in St.Petersburg Airport, travelling to Copenhagen-Nice today. Suppose to write something a long time ago, but exhausting end of season and difficult travelling doesn’t allow me ))) Perhaps my lazy nature prevented me even more.

Anyway, since Hawaii, where Orchestra are quite heroic – being unpaid for three months keep playing concerts (!) – I’ve been in Spain, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Tenerife, St.Petersburg. Summertime give some special edge to orchestras attitude for work, but I must say that all concerts were quite successful, Orchestra Tivoli in Copenhagen even played touch├ę by the end of concert, and Tenerife got a very good crowd and great response. St.Petersburg Phil last night was also quite full and Russian premiere of Simfonia de Requiem by Montsalvatge, Catalan composer, was very well received instead of abstract nature of piece (which I think is a very good music!).

Now expecting a good sunshine in Monte-Carlo together with Russian programme, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, and afterwards will do a concert in Paris with Radio France Orchestra (also Tchaikolvsky and Rachmaninov, but different pieces) on my way to Liverpool for White Nights concert and Viennese Ball.

Glad to read, that meeting with Michael went very well and you’ve enjoyed Friary. In current economy conditions it’ll be very challenging to get funding for improvement or new hall. Difficult, but not impossible and we will be looking for support in lots of places.

Oops, boarding!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

New!

Quite a long time haven’t written anything… Well, it’s been a very busy period, a lot of travelling, planning, concerts, recordings, awards, even professorship ))
And a lot of good things happened – reviews for CD’s been fantastic, national critics acclaimed concerts, local councils approved our budget and the most important – a lot of people have been in our presentation of next season! Hope that in 2009-10 even more audience will come to our concerts.
Talking more precisely about past events – of course Shostakovich 8 was a special night, but it was more or less what I’ve expected to produce, but real surprises were “La Mer” and “Firebird”, played with a great quality and inspiration. It’s always very difficult to play French music with British orchestras (and Firebird in many ways is also French) due to historical-mental difference between two nations (you see, I’m professor!), and final result was fantastic – even if there still be a lot of room for improvement. Recordings: plenty of them should be released soon, and I think Shostakovich 5 and especially 9 will be better than 11. As well two CDs of Rachmaninov, Symphonic Dances, Isle of the Dead, 3rd Piano Concerto, Rhapsody on Paganini theme should be a big hits. And there are few other pieces to record at summer!
Overseas concert – did recently Valladolid (Manfred Symphony), where critics acclaim as “un nuevo genio” after my 26th concert in this city ;), and last week been in Porto with a big success as well. Do you know what unite those two cities? Both have new concert halls… And now on my way to St Louis and week after (Aloha!!!) Hawaii Symphony. Hope to get some sunshine after rainy week in Portugal!

P.S. Will answer all your questions in other posts as soon as possible.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Back on track

It’s been exciting three weeks in Liverpool – full of fun and good news! I’ve been really glad to see so many people in the concerts and enjoyed to play music with brilliant soloists! And, of course, I’ve been happy to know that city will give us the same budget as in 2008 for each of next two years.
So, plenty of pleasure (which is quite rare in February) and encouragement for 2009-2010 season.
This month started from Rhapsodies concerts, quite tricky for conductor and orchestra due to different characters and stiles of 4 pieces, especially Enescu and Ravel, which RLPO haven’t played for quite a few years. But we like a challenge and I think audience in Liverpool and Preston enjoyed concerts quite a lot, as well as Embrace from Kirill Gerstein, our Romanian (as some people think!) soloist )))
Week after in “With love from Vasily” programme we had even more challenging repertoire, in fact, I think Prokofiev is one of the most difficult (but adorable!) composers to play due to strict articulation, balance and intonation problems. But, of course, English-Italian love story in his ballet give a lot of help in emotional side, and I’ve seen even some smoke over the strings in a last movement of our performance! Percussion players been excited by Carmen-suite, and Chausson in a first half was great, I think – by the way very underestimated French composer!
And last week with classical orchestral repertoire was very interesting in term of progress of orchestra, in my point of view we made a lot of improvement since last year (or two?), when we’ve played Classical Symphony last time, and Mendelssohn Reformation was a real discovery and unexpected fun for musicians. Those of you, who missed soloist this week, really missed a lot – doing her UK debut, she’s been stunning, and, I think, will have a big star very soon! And, of course, you’ve missed “orchestra bounce”, which we rehearsed with such a precision ;)
At the moment I’m in a train to London – what an improvement in their Sunday’s schedule, just 2.15 now! Full day of rehearsals with Guildhall and Heldenleben tomorrow, concert on Wednesday in Barbican, looking forward!
And at the end would like to ask you about two things, which are very important for us at the moment (we are at the very last stage of cooking next season):
- do you think current economic situation will have a big impact on the Phil’s audience? I mean, do you think people will try to cut their expenses by not going to the Phil anymore?
- Which day and time of the day (exact hour) is more suitable for you to attend a concert?
P.S. I’ve been quite amazed, how many people read this blog, but also amazed that a very few of you write something… Please, don’t be shy!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Near the Capitol Hill

Here I am, sitting in Washington Airport on my way back to Europe. As usual, America gave a lot of moments to think about…
First of all, when I’ve arrived to Milwaukee last week, it’s been truly amazing, how great are American story makers – what they did from obvious inauguration of new president, was remarkable! Few words of oath and couple of handshakes became a huge event for 1,5 millions people at the streets of Washington and many millions in States and worldwide! Even Yo-Yo Ma played his cello in sub-zero temperature ))) And in Milwaukee, which is quite far from capital, at the morning people cued into bars, restaurants and concert hall to watch TV-translation. Perhaps, it’s been a good reason to have a day-off ;)
It’s been a great week there, with a very good and strong collaboration with orchestra, and a lot of people from audience decided to listen Sheherazade second time at the second night. Instead of some tensions with soloist (you can find the story in internet), there’ve been a lot of magical moments in Chopin concerto too! And, of course, I did enjoyed proper winter with a lot of snow (down to -15!) and famous Milwaukee’s beers.
This week I’ve been in Baltimore, doing Shostakovich 8, Liadov and Tchaikovsky concerto with Stephen Hough. And it’s been highly successful too! Very strong chemistry with orchestra, great response from audience and a lot of excitement overall. Looking forward to play with Stephen again at the Prom this summer and with a pleasure will come back to Baltimore and Milwaukee. And, of course, looking forward to do this Symphony in Liverpool in a couple of months!
To not be too sweet in a blog, I need to say, that especially during this trip noticed very clear – recession is strong in States, as well as in Europe (and even worse in Russia!), and it’ll take a long time for the World to recovery from current economic situation. What about a culture? Difficult to predict… but the history knows examples, when during global catastrophes, like WWII for instance, people had even more intensive cultural life, trying to find an escape from horrors and disasters.
P.S. Forgot to write about week in Valladolid before US – did Mahler 7 and Strauss Songs with Barbara Bonney there – were stunning performances of this very complicate symphony, especially first-time-ever (!) for this orchestra after just two days of rehearsals. And I’ve disagreed with critics, who said, that Barbara was voiceless in a first half, I did enjoyed every note and every change of color and mood! Probably reviewer listen this concert too far from stage and couldn’t get all details… And again, looking forward to perform this great symphony in Liverpool in 2011!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it's Russian Christmas today, and I'm on my way back to Liverpool… It’s been a very hectic and busy time in November-December! I couldn’t find a time to write something! Actually, this period is the most intensive in cultural life – everyone try to escape late autumn-winter depression by attending cultural events…or go for crazy shopping (well, probably not this year).
Since middle of November and concerts in Liverpool and snowy Newcastle I’ve been in Spain with their National Orchestra, where some of you traveled to enjoy paella, Rioja, tortillas and a bit of culture ;) This week been highly successful, Orchestra would like to have me for quite a few concerts in forthcoming seasons (time is my worse enemy!), and I had a lot of pleasure from playing Prokofiev and unknown Rodrigo – do you know his music apart from guitar concerto? It’s beautiful, especially with Spanish singer! And all his sons and grandsons and relatives and friends and admirers had been there – my dressing room was definitely too small for it…
Week after I’ve conducted in Stuttgart, heart of Baden-W├╝rttemberg. It’s something special in German cities around Christmas with their Weihnachts-Markets, smell of marzipans and illumination, and in South Germany it’s even more characteristic! Funny enough, I did there the same Romeo and Juliette as in Spain, but it’s been a little big difficult to move this orchestra to my vision of the piece, so, quite a tough week. But the soloist, Sol Gabetta played absolutely superb, and I’ll try to bring her to Liverpool at some point!
Than, after one-night-stop in St.Petersburg (Hello, Dad! – Goodbye…) I flu far east to Novosibirsk. If you ever been in flight from Europe to Japan, you probably noticed size of Siberia – you become drunk, have a diner and a good sleep in-flight, awaken and still flying over the same taiga! But if you’ll go down and visit some cities there you’ll have a real experience J Novosibirsk is big city with huge cultural tradition, many people from Leningrad (and famous Leningrad Philharmonic) has been there in evacuation during 2nd World War, and plenty of them settled there. It’s also famous by violin school with Zahar Bron as a great teacher and Academic-City, place about 20 miles from Novosibirsk with high concentration of scientists, universities and laboratories, very clean and very intellectual. Orchestra is very good with a long tradition, and they’ve started to built a new concert hall for them, which they really needed. Audience gave very warm applauses for a light program (J.Strauss, Ravel and Tchaikovsky), and I’ve enjoyed a bit of true winter – temperature varied between 14 and 25 below zero on this week.
After it, finally, first time since July, I had 5 days off! And in my hometown! Of course, a lot of meetings with friends, visits etc, but surprisingly calm celebration of New Year with family. And at the beginning of the 2009 (yesterday!) was a concert with St.Petersburg Phil. It’s always a pleasure to play in such a beautiful and historical hall, especially when it’s absolutely full! Even if program (Shostakovich 15th Symphony) was far from Christmas-type, and very serious, concert had a great response. Funny enough, stage workers forgot to fixed a wheels of piano, and Simon Trpcheski after playing 1st movement of Ravel concerto, stood up and turned screws by himself!
Being in Russia after half-a-year abroad I’ve noticed, that propaganda from both sides getting much stronger – western countries try to show Russia as a “new evil power”, “big, dangerous and ambitious bear”, while Kremlin give a message of “enemies around” and “economic in ruins everywhere else” for internal media. As a result, people in Russia sure, that war in Georgia was a deliberation and salvation of people there, and west-Europeans think, that it’s been a clear aggression. The same story now about gas and Ukraine. As usual, the truth is somewhere else (I personally think, that truth is in personal financial interests), but people, who’ve been like brothers for centuries are separated now… What do you think?