Conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev, both of whom have been vocal supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not perform with the Vienna Philharmonic this weekend at New York’s Carnegie Hall and next week in Florida.
Gergiev was to have conducted the orchestra on Feb. 25, 26 and 27 in New York, and on March 1 and 2 in Naples, FL. Matsuev had been scheduled to play in the both locations. Demonstrations were planned to protest their Carnegie Hall appearances.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, music director of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, will replace Gergiev in New York, conducting the previously announced programs, devoted mainly to Russian repertory. Seong-Jin Cho, the South Korean winner of the 2015 Chopin Competition, will replace Matsuev in the Feb. 25 Carnegie Hall concert, playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.
Replacements for the conductor and pianist have not been announced for the Florida dates, per Artis – Naples, the host venue.
“[T]he extraordinary last-minute decision to replace a star maestro apparently over his ties to Mr. Putin – just days after the Philharmonic’s chairman insisted that Gergiev would be appearing as an artist, not a politician – reflected the rapidly intensifying global uproar” over the invasion of Ukraine launched by Putin this week, The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández reports:
“A great deal of private pressure was applied to the hall to lead to this outcome. It is not yet clear if US Government pressure was also involved. This is the worst possible outcome for Gergiev, who will now face aditional demands from his Munich [Philharmonic] employers to distance himself from the Ukraine aggression,” the British music journalist Norman Lebrecht writes on his Slipped Disc blog:
Lebrecht, citing a report from Robert Braunmüller of the Munich newspaper Abendzeitung, writes that the mayor of the city has told Gergiev that he must denounce the Ukraine invasion by Feb. 28 or lose his post as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic:
Lebrecht also reports that the Berlin Philharmonic will dedicate its coming performances of Mahler’s Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) to the victims of the Russian invasion. The announcement includes this statement from the orchestra’s chief conductor, the Russian-born Austrian Kirill Petrenko: “Putin’s insidious attack on Ukraine, which violates international law, is a knife in the back of the entire peaceful world. It is also an attack on the arts, which, as we know, unite across all borders. I am in complete solidarity with all my Ukrainian colleagues and can only hope that all artists will stand together for freedom, sovereignty and against aggression.”
The Times’ Hernández reports that two other European arts entities, La Scala in Milan and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, will cancel appearances by Gergiev if he does not denounce the invasion: