ISSN 2605-2318


Interview with conductor Vasily Petrenko


At the event entitled "A Night in the Tropics", the Russian conductor will offer a program that includes the world premiere of the Concert for accordion and orchestra "Vientos del Sur" by the Spanish-Argentine composer: Claudia Montero.

"I always try to do as many premieres as I can. Of course, it is vital for us because if we don’t give them a chance, who will? "


Next Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 7.30 pm, at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, United Kingdom and as part of the event entitled "A Night in the Tropics", the Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko will offer a program that includes the Symphony No. 1, A Night in the Tropics, which gives its name to the concert, by Louis Gottschalk, Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov and the world premiere of the Concert for accordion and orchestra «Vientos del Sur» by Claudia Montero. The Concert is a co-commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and the Munich Philharmonic with the support of Paladin Projects Ltd and will be performed by the Latvian accordionist Ksenija Sidorova.

1. Ruth Prieto: Next Thursday, under the title "A Night in the Tropics", the Liverpool public will be treated to an evening with compositions by Gottschalk, Rimsky-Korsakov and Claudia Montero, whose work «Vientos del Sur» (Winds of the South) is being world-premiered by the Liverpool Philharmonic. What can you tell us about this piece?
Vasily Petrenko: This new concerto is for accordion and orchestra. Of course, it has a lot of rhythmic and melodical connections with the country where Claudia was born (Argentina) and with South American culture but, in addition, it has very eloquent melodies, large percussion sections with a lot of rhythm and dance going on throughout and also many lyrical moments. It has three movements quite different in character and I am very much looking forward to conducting the piece.
2. R.P.: «Vientos del Sur» is a concerto for "piano accordion" and orchestra. In your opinion how well does the accordion adapt to the orchestra? Is it an intruder, is it a surprise? 

Vasily Petrenko: Several concertos exist for bandoneon, accordion or bayan and orchestra. In my home country, in Russia, of course, bayan, as a type of accordion, is widely respected and a very common instrument in folk orchestras. But in Western culture it is rather unusual to have an accordion in the orchestra. I expect that we will work very hard on the balance with the orchestra because the accordion can be quite loud (but it can also be relatively quiet) and, as always in the concerto, there is one solo versus the whole orchestra. So, I am expecting a lot of curiosity from the orchestra about how it sounds and a lot of hard work just to get the audience to be able to hear the accordion in the concert. I am not sure. We have not yet discussed whether we will amplify something or not. I think we will take a decision once we are there.
3. R.P.: You make a point of featuring premieres of newly created works. As a conductor, why is this important to you? Why do you think that it is important to support the new creation and composers of today? 

Vasily Petrenko: I always try to do as many premieres as I can. Of course, it is vital for us because if we don’t give them a chance, who will? Whether the work is a masterpiece or a piece that belongs to the many is only decided by time and by the public but, to be able to decide, the work needs to be played and the public, critics, everyone needs to be given a chance to listen to the music. I think that, specially nowadays, we have to support contemporary composers because otherwise we will be in a museum and I hate that. I think I have to be alive, that music, classical music, has to be alive. That is why I am always up for premieres but you have to plan them very carefully. If you schedule ten contemporary premieres for a single concert, then you might get an audience of a couple of hundred, the highly sophisticated, but the wider public will be scared off by the unknown. So you need to plan carefully with well-known masterpieces as in this case, Scheherazade, so that a lot of tickets are sold and so that there is a big public listening to the piece for the first time.
4. R.P.: As a conductor, what project would you like to address that you have not addressed yet? 

Vasily Petrenko: Oh well there are many projects, of course, in the future. I think I am very lucky because over the last 300 hundred years we have had a huge heritage of music and it keeps going so new pieces are being written all the time. An entire life will be not enough to conduct and to perform everything what I would like to conduct and perform.
5. R.P.: With what kind of repertoire are you most comfortable and happy? Who are your favorite composers? 

Vasily Petrenko: I have a very wide repertoire. This week now I am in Cardiff performing with the Olso Philarmonic Orchestra, yesterday we had a concert with works by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, tomorrow we are in Birmingham with Delius, Grieg and Sibelius, next week I am in Liverpool with Elgar, Gottschalk, Rimsky-Korsakov and of course the concert by Claudia Montero, to which I am looking forward. It is really a lot of music and a lot of composers and I’m delighted to be discovering new composers and new artists all the time. For me it is a big challenge and a big pleasure as well to do music from different countries, by different composers. I really like to get into the style of the composer and of the country and to perform them with all my possible pleasure and all my possible desire.
6. R.P.: Is it difficult to perform avant-garde projects in these times of crisis? 

Vasily Petrenko: I think that new music projects now are comparatively easy if you remember how Beethoven or Brahms or Mahler struggled for the premieres of their works. New pieces of music are always a bit difficult to propagate because naturally people are a bit afraid of new things and because of that it is never easy but, again, I am trying to do my best.
7. R.P.: Did you have time to take a look at «Vientos del Sur»? Do you like it? 

Vasily Petrenko: Yes, a lot. I have the score in my hands right now. I think that it will be a great premiere. There are a few things to define with Claudia and with Ksenija, the soloist, at rehearsal time but I hope that the audience will enjoy it. I am pretty sure they will. It is the sort of contemporary music with a melody and details that audiences immediately recognize and adore.
8. R.P.: Where are you going from here? What are your next projects? 

Vasily Petrenko: This week’s tour concerts is in Olso, next week in Liverpool, then Valladolid in Spain and London. A lot of wonderful pieces. Perfect planning. We are celebrating 100 years with the Olso Philarmonic, The Oslo Philharmonic's anniversary season 2019/20 is approaching and they are celebrating with two international tours. And I am also doing my 15th season with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Apart from all of that, I have a few concerts with the European Union Youth Orchestra in Italy, Luxemburg, Germany, Australia and, for the first time, Oman. So, a lot of projects, mostly booked up, and I try to enjoy every moment, every day and every week.
About Master Petrenko Claudia Montero commented:

«My admiration and respect for him is long-standing, his name sounds permanently in projects and productions of the highest level, and the opportunity to premiere a work under his direction is a dream for every composer.  I am impressed by his ability to work, and the variety of his projects, I think he is at a peak, and I think he will continue to climb even more, his time in all the orchestras he has directed has left a mark, and I have no doubt that in my There will also be that moment when your hand sees the light of my South Winds.»


The photograph of Maestro Petrenkpo has been kindly provided by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for this interview.

More información at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

More información at Vasily Petrenko

More información at Ksenija Sidorova

More información at Claudia Montero



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