Conducting stars from the east

In recent days, we get closer looks at and performance critiques of two of the most remarked-upon conductors in recent years, Teodor Currentzis and Kirill Petrenko.

The New York Times’ Michael Cooper profiles Currentzis, whose alt-classical persona “looks more CBGB than Carnegie Hall,” as he leads performances and after-hours musical happenings in Perm, the city in the foothills of the Russian Ural mountains where he has been artistic director of the state opera company, while also leading his period-instruments orchestra MusicAeterna:

The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, meanwhile, recounts early hearings of Petrenko as he takes over direction of the Berlin Philharmonic, hearing in the conductor’s work “a straight-ahead rightness” in interpretation while worrying that his choices of repertory to date represent a “retrenchment” from the commitment to contemporary music shown by his predecessor, Simon Rattle:

Currentzis, born in Greece, was educated and has so far pursued his career in Russia. Petrenko, born in Russia, emigrated to Austria in teenage and has risen professionally in Germany. This kind of border-hopping resonates locally: Of the five candidates to become the Richmond Symphony’s next music director, one, Valentina Peleggi, is an Italian currently working in Brazil; another, Farkhad Khudyev, is a native of Turkmenistan who has worked in Britain and the US. A sixth candidate, Paolo Bortolameolli, who withdrew over the summer, is the Chilean-born associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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