Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Jurowski’

Dorny, Jurowski to Staatsoper

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Vladimir Jurowski photographed by Simon Pauly in Berlin

Published: March 6, 2018

MUNICH — The rumor emerged last fall, lingered, and today became fact during a Free State of Bavaria cabinet meeting: Serge Dorny, 56, and Vladimir Jurowski, 45, will in Sept. 2021 take over as Intendant and Generalmusikdirektor, respectively, at Bavarian State Opera. So said a statement from Bavaria’s Kultusminister Ludwig Spaenle, listing the appointments in that sequence. No contract term was disclosed, and no salary. The opera company will go without a GMD in the preceding season, after incumbent Kirill Petrenko steps down.

Lyon-based Dorny and Berlin-based Jurowski have been colleagues before, if not salaried together, notably by way of the London Philharmonic and the Glyndebourne Festival. Presumably they will get along, as have Petrenko and outgoing Intendant Nikolaus Bachler. Bavaria’s Culture Ministry did not answer questions about the joint nature of the new hiring.

Dorny drew attention around Germany when in 2014 he sued Dresden’s Semperoper for wrongful termination. He had been appointed Intendant of that company for five years, to start that fall, but was peremptorily fired in February, midway through an agreed preparative season, and suffered the further indignity of a Saxon minister’s televised description that he had behaved “like the Sun King.” He won the case, and pay and damages to the tune of a reported €1.5 million, and in July 2016 fended off the Free State of Saxony’s appeal.

Dorny grew up in a Flemish-speaking family on western Belgium’s French border. He began his career in 1983 as a dramaturge working for Gerard Mortier at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. Four years later he was heading the Festival van Vlaanderen. From 1996 to 2003 he served as chief executive and artistic director of the London Philharmonic, a post that took him yearly to Glyndebourne, before he started in his present, acclaimed role as directeur général of the Opéra de Lyon.

The Moscow-born conductor, whose family emigrated to Germany in 1990, promises high standards and a slightly freer approach to music direction than Petrenko. His theater work has centered on projects at Glyndebourne, where between 2003 and 2013 he filmed operas by all three of BStO’s so-called “house gods”: Mozart, Wagner and Strauss.

Janowski debuted with BStO in Nov. 2015 leading an adrenaline-charged Akademiekonzert program of Liszt, Hindemith and Prokofiev, and weeks later presided over a musically and dramatically successful new Ognenny angel (Огненный ангел). Although he did return for one performance of that opera the next summer, he has not appeared with the company since.

Andris Nelsons’ name was also floated for the GMD position. He moved to Munich in 2015 and had seemingly been interested in vitalizing the thinnish opera side of his career at Germany’s biggest opera company. However, as Munich’s Merkur newspaper has reported, his schedule was deemed too full to take on all the GMD duties — a fair assessment but one that could equally apply to Jurowski, who today heads orchestras* in London, Berlin and Moscow. Four performances of Rusalka last June have been Nelsons’ only BStO assignment.

[*He is concurrently principal conductor of the London Philharmonic, chief conductor and artistic director of the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and artistic director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (in Moscow, formerly the USSR State Symphony Orchestra) … as well as principal artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in London, and artistic director of the George Enescu Festival, in Bucharest.]

Photo © Simon Pauly

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MPhil Bosses Want Continuity

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Valery Gergiev and Munich Philharmonic Intendant Paul Müller in 2017

Published: January 31, 2018

MUNICH — Contrary to a London blog report yesterday, nothing has been “locked down” with regard to a contract extension for Valery Gergiev at the Munich Philharmonic, though things are indeed moving in that direction, for practical more than artistic reasons.

What has happened is that Hans-Georg Küppers, Kulturreferent of the City of Munich, which operates the orchestra, has gone public with his resolve to recommend a full five-year renewal for the Russian maestro to the city council at its scheduled Feb. 21 meeting. Any contract-signing would naturally take place later.

Küppers, MPhil Intendant Paul Müller (pictured last year with Gergiev), and Munich Bürgermeister Dieter Reiter are all inclined on continuity because 2020, when the present contract expires, heralds the lengthy and probably tortuous closure of the MPhil’s Gasteig home for gutting — at which time the musicians must decamp for a temporary wooden hall next to a power plant up the Isar River.

Gergiev has been no more of a musical success here than anyone predicted, but the high tensions around his friendship with Vladimir Putin — at fever pitch in 2013 when he was hired — have abated, and artistic decision-making since he began his tenure 29 months ago has gone smoothly.

Regarding other jobs around town, rumors persist that Vladimir Jurowski has joined Andris Nelsons im Gespräch for Kirill Petrenko’s position as Generalmusikdirektor at Bavarian State Opera. Petrenko steps down in fall 2020 after an unprecedented single season as head both of Germany’s largest opera company and of the Berlin Philharmonic. No rumors are yet floating about a successor to, or a renewal for, Mariss Jansons, whose contract at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is up one year after Gergiev’s.

Photo © Florian Emanuel Schwarz

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Six Husbands in Tow

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Divas due in Munich

Published: March 13, 2016

MUNICH — Some contracts come with strings attached, others with husbands. In a remarkable set of coincident artistic priorities for company boss Nikolaus Bachler — or a broad capitulation — Bavarian State Opera’s 2016–17 season, announced today, features no fewer than six divas in performance with their husbands. Edita Gruberová, Elīna Garanča and Kristine Opolais will star in Roberto Devereux, La Favorite and Rusalka while their other halves conduct. Diana Damrau, Anna Netrebko and Aleksandra Kurzak will headline Lucia di Lammermoor, Macbeth and La Juive while alongside them their spouses sing. In another family tie, Vladimir Jurowski has apparently been allowed to abandon the new Ognenny angel he led (electrically) this season in favor of … his dad. Small wonder 2016–17 is dubbed “Was folgt”: What follows.

Photos © Wiener Staatsoper (Elīna Garanča), Opernhaus Zürich (Anna Netrebko), Bill Cooper for the Royal Opera House (Kristine Opolais), Catherine Ashmore for the ROH (Aleksandra Kurzak, Diana Damrau), Wilfried Hösl (Edita Gruberová)

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Berlin’s Dark Horse

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Vladimir Jurowski

Republished: May 4, 2015

MUNICH — Word around town has it that Christian Thielemann holds the biggest committed block of votes heading into next Monday’s Berlin Philharmonic election. The rest, so the scuttlebutt goes, divide widely, in part reflecting the musicians’ open-nomination process.

That this Chefdirigent transition is much discussed up here in Bavaria comes as a surprise. The Berliners years ago lost their dominance among German orchestras, notably with the return to glory of the older Leipzig Gewandhaus and Dresden Staatskapelle, which since reunification in 1990 have been solidly funded by their Saxon Government and are now routinely televised under their conductors Riccardo Chailly and Thielemann.

But discussed it is, probably out of happy fascination that a body of 124 tenured musicians actually enjoys the freedom in this corporate-political world to determine its own artistic path. The process certainly beats officials deciding, or a clubby mixed committee. If voting on May 11 yields no “clear majority,” a shortlist will be drawn up and a second round held, at which time the less committed will shift. Naturally the winner has the option of declining the offer.

Another surprise, two weeks ago, was Mariss Jansons’ casual comment during the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra’s season news conference to the effect that “we will see what happens” in Berlin. It had been assumed here that the 72-year-old was not a candidate, considering the health problems that led him to resign from Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra. Apparently he is.

Thielemann would be the first German to hold the lofty post since Wilhelm Furtwängler died 61 years ago, no minor consideration in this resurgent and recently enlarged nation. He might be perfect for it. Imaginative and commanding, magnetic and familiar, he would bring skills in Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner and Strauss that are unquestioned.

More pertinently he appears the best-attached of any potential candidate to prospects for robust earned incomes for the players, what with the global viewership he pulls in Dresden and the rapture he engenders in such disparate places as Beijing and Baden-Baden, Abu Dhabi and Vienna.

But for several reasons the Thielemann candidacy could collapse. He sits pretty at present in the refurbished Saxon capital, tied majestically to Salzburg through leadership of the Herbert von Karajan-founded Easter Festival, and so he may push for too much from an interested Berlin, for instance by seeking lifetime tenure in emulation of Karajan. Rumored to be right-wing politically, and not shy, he may open his mouth in ways that portend headaches for Berlin’s politicians, city or federal: he already has, in fact, in guarded support of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, crossing Angela Merkel’s position.

Most ruinously, and quite realistically, the entrenchment of his voting support among the musicians may produce an equally stubborn, larger, anyone-but-Thielemann faction that would only need to agree on someone else.

The divided nature of the non-Thielemann vote points to the dilemma facing the Berliners should electing him prove impossible. Far from a glittering array of options, the promise is of awkward rounds of eliminations driven by commercial requisites, institutional pride and vital timeframes. These are clear enough to seem to leave just one candidate, a dark horse as the grapevine discussions presently go.

To state the obvious, the orchestra needs a renowned, enthusiastic, hugely talented money-maker. Someone it can successfully promote and who can reciprocate. Someone who can put in a decade or more on the job, history suggests. The choices thin out abruptly.

Age, health, or crested fame surely bars Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, Marek Janowski, Jansons, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Mikhail Pletnev, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson Thomas. What kind of signal about the future would such an appointment send? Sensibly, and maybe on advice, Barenboim has publicly withdrawn.

Conversely the Berlin organization takes itself too seriously to reach down to the unknown, as the Los Angeles Philharmonic once boldly did with Esa-Pekka Salonen, and in any case has no Ernest Fleischmann to guide and impose such an initiative. Even if it could, a number of superb young conductors have not yet proven themselves in the orchestra’s core repertory (and indeed Salonen never did): Lionel Bringuier, Constantinos Carydis, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Tomáš Hanus, Michele Mariotti, Diego Matheuz, Vasily Petrenko, Krzysztof Urbański.

No, the Berlin Philharmonic is restricted to what should be a plentiful middle field: men and women mainly in their 40s and 50s. The talent is there, as always, but the “names” are few thanks to a generational blip in the star system.

Reputations used to be sealed by the record industry, where imagery, repertory assignments and regimentation by label created and conferred prestige — not least on the future Berlin Chefdirigents Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle (all using English orchestras).

But when the industry imploded after 1990, so did this system. And two exceptions to the implosion do nothing for Berlin’s musician-voters today: in the Russian repertory, where pent-up demand for Western-controlled recorded surveys (suddenly enabled under the coincident Yeltsin regime) catapulted the name Valery Gergiev; and in the ongoing period-instrument movement, elevating William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, Marc Minkowski and lesser talents.

The result is a dearth of famous conductors in precisely the age group Berlin must select from now. Stéphane Denève? Thomas Hengelbrock? Manfred Honeck? Known and most worthy, but not today the stars they would have become had the labels continued with their earlier promotional practices.

The names that can be shortlisted soon dwindle upon mundane consideration. Gustavo Dudamel, Gergiev, Riccardo Muti and Yannick Nézet-Séguin are contracted elsewhere until at least 2020. A Briton to follow a Briton would not sit well politically, nixing Ivor Bolton, Gardiner, Daniel Harding and Antonio Pappano. Limited appeal in Germany precludes Myung-Whun Chung, while Simone Young has rather overstayed in Hamburg. Nor can the musician-voters take someone who has stormed out: Fabio Luisi or Franz Welser-Möst.

Electing a conductor who is just getting started in another job, or on a sure separate trajectory, would cast the Berliners as unimaginative poachers, ruling out Iván Fischer, Philippe Jordan, Andris Nelsons, Kirill Petrenko and Tugan Sokhiev. And despite the admirable broadening of the orchestra’s operational scope under Rattle, it would never work to bring in a specialist: Giovanni Antonini, Christie, Emmanuelle Haïm, Minkowski.

Tough and vague, but key, is the matter of charisma. Rattle has little of it, and this fact has gnawed away below the patina of the Berlin brand, a mistake not to repeat. Star quality — promotability — is not the first strength of several theoretical contenders for this grand post: Marin Alsop, Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Andrew Davis, Ádám Fischer, Alan Gilbert, Louis Langrée, Ludovic Morlot or David Robertson.

Deduction, then, leaves one feasible conductor of renown. He’s thought of as Russian but in fact is Russian-German, having come to this country as a teenager. His name does not immediately come up in the context of this transition because he is little associated with the Berlin Philharmonic: he has led just a few concerts with the orchestra — his last program, in 2011, featured the rare Das klagende Lied — perhaps a cleverly planned fact that will allow non-Thielemann consensus, there being no “damage.” The players know him further, however, through other engagements in Berlin, where he happens to live, and no doubt through personal interactions. This season he conducts the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, the Konzerthaus-Orchester, and at the Komische Oper.

He may well be a friend of Rattle’s. The two have Glyndebourne Festival Opera in common and serve as principal artists of London’s period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. If he is Rattle’s own idea of the right successor, the incumbent is assuredly now gauging and conveying the interests on both sides.

Tactful and politically astute, he maintains ties to two Moscow orchestras yet manages to stay out of the fray over Vladimir Putin, and after years as music director of Glyndebourne he made a public point of praising the festival as a place to work. Diplomacy goes far in a capital city.

His repertory is cosmopolitan, even if weighted toward Russian and German music. He is not celebrated for Haydn or Mozart but does embrace period-instrument practices. At the same time, he remains intellectually curious, venturing Schnittke’s Third Symphony for example this season. Critics are generally positive, especially in London, where his Brahms made waves two seasons ago for its traditionalism, but also in New York (Hänsel und Gretel and Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Metropolitan Opera) and Philadelphia, where he regularly guests.

Interestingly his present contract as principal conductor and artistic advisor of the London Philharmonic ends at the same time as Rattle’s in Berlin. Where will he be May 11? At home, probably. He conducts the Komische Oper’s Moses und Aron the night before. So a prediction: if naysayers thwart Thielemann in the vote, or his own hubris does, the next Chefdirigent of the Berlin Philharmonic will be Vladimir Jurowski.

Photo (modified) © Sheila Rock

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