Testament to the versatility and musical command that Teodor Currentzis and his unique orchestra and choir possess, this new album brings together two diverse masterworks from two titans of Russian music. Although they have been acquainted for a long time prior, this recording represents the first musical collaboration between Teodor Currentzis and the exceptional violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The instant artistic rapport (an "artistic wedding" of sorts) between these two maverick musicians can be heard in this dynamic new recording of Tchaikovsky's Violin concerto – one of the most popular works in the violin repertory. Currentzis' authentic approach to the folk influences in Stravinsky's music (as revealed in Le Sacre du Printemps) is again very present in his interpretation of Les Noces. This work for percussion, pianists, chorus, and vocal soloists – originally composed as ballet music – is probably one of Stravinsky's most rarely recorded works. The work is based on a Russian peasant wedding, which the cover artwork references. Exceptional to this new recording is that the MusicAeterna choir members are all native-Russian speakers who bring another level of understanding and authenticity to the work. After her prominent participation in the "Rameau – The Sound of Light" recording, Nadine Koutcher – freshly crowned "2015 Cardiff Singer of the Year" – returns to sing the leading soprano solo part in Les Noces.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
♪ Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 (1878)
i. Allegro moderato
ii. Canzonetta. Andante
iii. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin
Conductor: Teodor Currentzis
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
♪ Les Noces (1922)
4. Scene 1: The Tresses (At the Brides’s House) 04:59
5. Scene 2: At the Bridegroom’s House 05:44
6. Scene 3: The Departure of the Bride 02:48
7. Scene 4: The Wedding Feast
Nadine Koutcher, soprano
Natalya Buklaga, mezzo-soprano
Stanislav Leontieff, tenor
Vasiliy Korostelev, bass
Chorus Masters: Vitaly Polonsky, Arina Zvereva
Pianists: Mikhail Mordvinov, Artem Abashev, Alexander Osminin, Oksana Pislegina
Percussion: Nikolay Dulskiy, Roman Romashkin, Igor Grishkin, Andrey Nikitin, Vladislav Osipov, Vadim Yashin, Alibek Kabdurakhmanov
Conductor: Teodor Currentzis
Recordings: P. I. Tchaikovsky State Opera and Ballet Theater, Perm, April 27 - May 1, 2014 (Tchaikovsky); Teatro Real, Madrit, October 24, 25 & 27, 2013 (Stravinsky)
Sony Classical 2016
Photos by Aleksey Romanov Nikolaevich
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First publication: March 25, 2017 – Last update: December 2, 2017
Marrying Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with Les noces makes for a bizarre mismatch. Teodor Currentzis and his Perm orchestra MusicAeterna are on pungent form in the Stravinsky, a worthy successor to their terrific recent Rite of Spring (11/15). Indeed, it would have made a more sensible coupling there, as Sony issued The Rite all by itself. Rhythms are accented with punch and there’s a feel of Old Russia about the way the chorus intones the toasts of the final wedding tableaux. In this version for four pianos and percussion, the singers include the excellent Nadine Koutcher, winner of the 2014 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. No texts are provided, alas, for this wedding breakfast.
Take a closer look at the black and white wedding photo which adorns the cover, however, and you spy Currentzis and Patricia Kopatchinskaja as the happy couple. Kopatchinskaja is the soloist for Tchaikovsky's Concerto and the booklet features a pair of quirky billets-doux between them in which they expound their musical philosophies and, in particular, her route into "understanding" a concerto that had often felt alien to her.
I'm a huge admirer of Kopatchinskaja and Currentzis as risk-takers. Inevitably, there are going to be times when those risks don't come off. Alas, this is one of those occasions. First violins immediately signal what's in store – stealing in very softly, with crotchets played like quavers, giving a clipped, businesslike statement. Kopatchinskaja's opening phrase doesn't swell to a forte and the theme is whispered on the lightest bow-hair. Yes, Tchaikovsky asks for piano playing, but he also asks for dolce, and sweetness is definitely missing from this glassy, scratchy introduction. At best, it could be described as skittish.
Every time things pick up – fireworks erupt when Kopatchinskaja hits her stride at 4'47" – something else comes along to dampen any mounting enthusiasm. She daintily tiptoes over the score when a mezzo-forte is called for and the cadenza contains much sul ponticello playing and chirruping high quavers, more Bartók than Tchaikovsky.
Lovely woodwind-playing opens the Canzonetta. Kopatchinskaja plays con sordino, but it is far too quiet, more akin to crooning. She tests the bounds of audibility in her dialogue with the clarinet and oboe in the finale (tr 3, 2'40") and drags back the tempo. Swollen notes and slurs in the solo line give the impression of a drunken Cossack, although Currentzis draws steely pizzicatos and stamps from his strings to really make this movement dance.
In short, this amounts to a total rethinking of Tchaikovsky's Concerto and you may well find it more to your taste than mine. If you are able to sample this disc, the first two minutes will tell you all you need to know.
Source: Mark Pullinger (gramophone.co.uk)
Iconoclastic conductor Teodor Currentzis and his MusicAeterna orchestra, way out in Perm (the hometown of Diaghilev, among others), are never dull in the least, and Currentzis deserves credit for rethinking Mozart, Rameau, and other music of the 18th century in fundamental ways. His Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35, isn't dull, either, but with Tchaikovsky he enters a terrain where performance traditions have come down directly from the original performers of the music, and he disregards them. Reactions to this music are going to depend on the original, and the magic of Internet sampling will pretty quickly let you determine whether you find it brilliantly original or hopelessly idiosyncratic: in the first movement, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja enters quietly, in the manner of a strolling violinist. It's hard to imagine that Tchaikovsky would have felt this made any sense, but it hangs together on its own terms as Kopatchinskaja explodes into fireworks soon enough. The graphics emphasize a kind of spiritual meeting of the minds between conductor and soloist, and this is actually conveyed in this music and gives it a hard-to-pin-down positive X factor. Elsewhere, Kopatchinskaja continues to flirt with dynamic extremes, which is arguably in the general spirit of Tchaikovsky even if not of this particular work. So: there's a lot to chew on here, but be sure you know what you're getting into. The punchy performances of Stravinsky's Les Noces is another plus, although pairing it with the Tchaikovsky may well be taken as another example of Currentzis' propensity for the outrageous. A worthwhile outing from one of the most controversial conductors of the 2010s.
Source: James Manheim (allmusic.com)
Teodor Currentzis is the Artistic Director of the Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre, Artistic Director of the ensemble musicAeterna and of the musicAeterna Chamber Choir, both formed in 2004, during his tenure as Music Director of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Orchestra (2004-2010). In 2017-2018 Teodor will be the Chief Conductor Designate of the SWR Symphony Orchestra and from 2018-2019, will be the Chief Conductor.
MusicAeterna, now resident in Perm, has been granted the status of the first orchestra of Perm State Theatre of Opera and Ballet. In 2017-2018, Teodor will travel across Europe with musicAeterna performing in the most prestigious venues, including Vienna Konzerthaus and the Musikverein, Berlin Philharmonie, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and La Scala in Milan. Programmes include semi-staged performances of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and Puccini's La bohème as well as programmes of Schostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2 and Mozart's Piano Concerto in G with Alexander Melnikov. Teodor will also make his debut at Dutch National Opera with MusicAeterna and Peter Seller's production of La clemenza di Tito. Further engagements include Tonhalle Orchestra with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Camerata Salzburg, SWR Symphony and Philharmonia Zurich with Helene Grimaud.
Past highlights of Teodor's career include: Resident Artist at the Vienna Konzerthaus beginning 2016-2017 including concerts with Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg and MusicAeterna; a tour with Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Berio's Coro; Clemenza di tito and Mozart's Requiem at Salzburg Festival, Verdi's Macbeth at Zurich Opera with Barrie Kosky (2016); Wagner's Das Rheingold with MusicAeterna Orchestra (2015, RUHRtriennale in Bochum); Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Persephone at Aix Festival (2015) which premiered in Madrid in 2012; Purcell's The Indian Queen in Madrid (2012); Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in Zurich (2012) and Weinberg's The Passenger with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in Bregenz (2010).
As Artistic Director of Perm Opera, Teodor has commissioned several important new works, including Phillipe Hersants' Tristia (2016), Dmitrii Kourliandski's opera Nosferatu (2014), Alexei Syumak's opera Cantos (2016), and a violin concerto by Sergey Nevsky (2015).
Teodor Currentzis and MusicAeterna are exclusive Sony artists and have released the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy, Stravinsky's Les Noces and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, with Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Previous recordings include Shostakovich's Symphony No.14, Mozart's Requiem and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas all on the Alpha label and the Shostakovich Piano Concertos with Alexander Melnikov and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra on the Harmonia Mundi label. In 2017, they will release Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.6, and thereafter Mahler's Symphony No.6. MusicAeterna plans to record and release all nine Beethoven Symphonies ahead of the 2020 Beethoven anniversary.
In 2017, ECHO Klassik awarded the DVD/Blu-ray production of Purcell's Indian Queen, directed by Peter Sellers, with Teodor and MusicAeterna, following on from a previous ECHO Klassik award in 2016 for "Symphonic Recording (20th/21st century music)" for their recording of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, both released on Sony Classical. In 2012, Teodor and his brother Vangelino Currentzis, recorded and composed the soundtrack of the European Games opening ceremony in Baku and were nominated for an Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. Teodor Currentzis was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2008, and was the recipient of the Toepfer Foundation's prestigious Kairos Award in 2016. The same year, Opernwelt named Teodor Currentzis Best Conductor of the Year for his Macbeth at Zurich Opera.
Teodor has so far been awarded seven Golden Masks – Russia's prestigious theatre award – most recently in 2017 as Best Opera Conductor for La Traviata, a Perm Opera production directed by Robert Wilson. Previous awards include the Best Opera Conductor award (Wozzeck, Bolshoi 2009), for a "brilliant performance of Prokofiev's score" (Cinderella, 2007) and for "outstanding results in the area of authentic performance" (The Marriage of Figaro, 2008).
In 2006, combining his knowledge and passion for early music with contemporary composers and new music, Teodor started the Territoria Modern Art Festival, which in a short space of time has become the most prestigious and progressive annual music festival in Moscow. Since 2012, Teodor has also curated the Diaghilev Festival, held in the home of the composer's birth town in Russia.
Born in Greece in 1972, Russia has become Teodor's home since the beginning of the 1990s, when he began studying conducting at the state conservatory of St Petersburg, under the tutelage of Professor Ilya Musin, whose pupils, among others, were renowned conductors Odyseuss Dimitriadis, Valery Gergiev, and Semyon Bychkov.
Teodor Currentzis was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation in 2008, and was the recipient of the Toepfer Foundation's prestigious Kairos Award in 2016. The same year, Opernwelt named Teodor Currentzis Best Conductor of the Year for his Macbeth at Zurich Opera.
Alfred Schnittke: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra | Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5 in E minor – Antoine Tamestit, SWR Symphonieorchester, Teodor Currentzis (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 in G minor – Julia Korpacheva, Peter Migunov, MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor, "Pathétique" – MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Download 96kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major, & Symphony No.1 in F minor | Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, Op.1 – Steven Isserlis, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis (HD 1080p)