Cult of Currentzis reaches Cosi

Cult of Currentzis reaches Cosi


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2014

Teodor Currentzis, 42, a Greek conductor working in Russia, is the last active baton on the Sony Classical label – and they are making the most of his charismatic appeal.

A freshly-made promo video for his recording of Cosi fan tutte puts all the spotlight on the conductor and none on the singers and musicians – for all that Currentzis claims to have fostered a new ‘ brotherhood’ method of making music.

It looks like a 20th century personality cult decked out with maestro clichés, some of the most alarming banality. It’s Karajan for the iPhone, faintly disturbing. Watch (for as long as your patience lasts).
Teodor_Currentzis_main (1)


  • RW2013 says:

    In my country the GEMA doesn’t make this video available, something for which we can probably be very grateful.

  • Michael Endres says:

    Thank you for that clip ,was not really aware of Currentzis and his work !
    From that promotional video I hear exceptionally good Mozart performances , a true delight for my ears and soul.
    Will now buy at least one set and take it from there.

  • Fritz Curzon says:

    2:48. Perhaps you can tabulate an average for us, Norman.

  • sdReader says:

    As far as I know, this was recorded last year, i.e. 2013, along with “Nozze.” Sony promised all three da Pontes from Currentzis at Perm, so “Don Giovanni” is the one missing, although sharp cuts in the opera company’s budget were recently announced.

    Despite the publicity, I’d rank this man 3rd among Greek conductors today, behind Constantinos Carydis (a genius who performs seldom for reasons unclear) and George Petrou (the Baroque and Classical specialist recording for Decca).

  • Ducadiposa says:

    Must say I was excited when his Figaro was released given the hype and the lack of new studio recordings of most of the standard rep. The approach looked refreshing and I was interested to hear singers like Simone Kermes as the Countess – not repertoire I’d usually associate her with. I managed to listen to maybe one disc in the set and kind of gave up. The voice types were just too similar – it was really hard to tell Susanna from the Countess in the recits, *and* Cherubino for that matter. I always wasn’t a huge fan of the whispering tone many of them took in the recits especially. This sort of thing may work on stage, creating a realistic, conversational effect, but it’s very tiring to listen to repeatedly on a recording. I’ll probably eventually listen to the whole thing but it’s just not that compelling. Sorry to hear though of the cuts at Perm Opera – at least Currentzis was trying something interesting there.

  • RW says:

    Why do I keep thinking of Alan Partridge?

  • Mattheos says:

    Recipe for a conductor’s success nowadays: emote frantically on stage while beating the donkey out of your musicians in ridiculously fast tempi (Cosi’s overture). And do not forget to get support of some Russian oligarchs, or better – their wives. You are right Norman, though I am afraid this is just an example of a widely spread disease killing classical music all over the world. @SDReader: I have had the distinct pleasure of listening to “La cenerentola” at the Athens Opera House under Karydis. Excellent taste, great musicality indeed.

    • pianoronald says:

      Not only is the overture ridiculously fast – the trio “Soave sia il vento” is ridiculously slow. I will definitely NOT buy this recording.

      • Jen Hardacre says:

        Just heard (suffered through) his recording of “Dido and Aeneas” (Purcell). Currentzis’s tempos were either so fast or so agonizingly slow that the music was almost unrecognizable, even though I have sung in the chorus for this opera!

  • John Willan says:

    Which bit of his appeal is charismatic, exactly?

  • LF says:

    I would not dare to judge anything based on a small promo film.

    I first heard Currentzis conduct in the Zürich Opera last year. The Zürich opera orchestra played to their highest standards and he got total dedication.

    I also heard him recently conduct his orchestra Musica Aeterna at the Perm opera and I know musicians who work with him there. As you can see on the video the Perm orchestra consists mostly of young people. When I was there he had several Tschaikovsky prize winners in the violins, quite amazing. This orchestra and Currentzis have the will and the stamina to have open-ended rehearsals for hours and days on end (quite in contrast to German or Swiss tariff orchestras who reherarse from 1000 to 1300 precisely, with an intermission of 30 minutes precisely). His conducting seems very much centered on the music, very imaginative and quite obsessive, but not at all narzisstic. The music in his hands gets an eruptive and volcanic quality, far from the usual boring-polished beauty of a late Karajan and the other usual fare.

    From what I have experienced I count him among the great ones (I also heard Karajan conducting) and would love to go to any concert he conducts anytime.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Currentzis was made a Russian citizen last year – on the express personal edict of Vladimir Putin.

    Oddly, such personal patronage by Russia’s Head of State has not earned him the umbrage reserved for Valery Gergiev? I wonder why that is?

  • Ignacio says:

    I have heard an excellent recording of the Mozart Requiem with Currentzis and his Musica Aeterna Perm forces. I would love to hear his Mozart-da Ponte operas. As to Sony’s marketing, I normally don’t pay attention to those things and the video was “not made available” in the USA.

  • Harald Braun says:

    Ridiculously overhyped!!!!

  • Nicolas Mansfield says:

    I saw him conduct The Indian Queen some months ago in Madrid. Musically speaking, good results, but at a price. Maestro was the complete centre of attention. Quite an achievement from the pit. Not my glass of vodka, by a long way.

  • Harald Braun says:

    I think the first thing he should do is attending a masterclass with Bernard Haitink!!!

  • Novagerio says:

    Either too slow or too fast – so, what’s the issue? A greek-russian Harnoncourt-in-the-making. Just another return of the Semi-conductor-Jedi, strongly backed up by elusive politics. ‘Brotherhood’ method of making music my boot!