Even after becoming Berlin Philharmonic new artistic director (succeeding Sir Simon Rattle in the summer of 2015), Kirill Petrenko did not give many grant interviews to the press. He only rarely (and reluctantly) releases recordings. “I prefer,” he once said, “to speak through my work on the podium.” With his first concerts taking place in March 2017, and a year later going on a short tour together with the orchestra, Mr. Petrenko officially took office during the 2019/20 season and, in addition to numerous symphonic evenings, conducted his then first New Year’s Eve concerts with the orchestra plus Puccini’s Suor Angelica.
Initially, Petrenko wanted to become a symphonic conductor. And that shows as he leads the philharmonic orchestra. As a musical storyteller and influenced by the path of Hans von Bülow (one of the most distinguished conductors of the 19th century and critical figure for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, especially Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms) his program includes symphonic and concert repertoire and reflects his interpretation of music in that direction.
“I am privileged because I am following Bülow on my path. He was first in Munich, then in Meiningen, then in Berlin; the sequence is a little different for me, but I feel strongly connected to his tradition through my work with the Meiningen Court Orchestra and the State Opera in Munich. I have studied scores with his annotations everywhere: Brahms in Meiningen, Wagner in Munich, and I am working quite intensively with his Beethoven interpretations,” tells Petrenko in his interview for Berlin Philarmonic.
Players are very devoted to him and the audience loves him. This does mean that Mr. Petrenko tends to be the focus when he conducts and firmly establishes his influences on the orchestral repertoire. Notably not a fan of contemporary classics, one of his interests (aside from the classics of German-Austrian Classicism and Romanticism) is unjustly forgotten composers, like Rudi Stephan and Franz Schmidt.
Even though the concerts are cancelled for the coming months, you can listen to some outstanding performances through the Digital Concert Hall, including a program from Krill Petrenko with his 10-mintue interview.
“I prefer to speak through my work on the podium.”