Brand Gergiev is badly damagedmain
His Ring cycle is playing to empty spaces in Birmingham, despite massive discounting on tickets.
His summer tour with the World Orchestra for Peace turned into a one-stop after a failure to attract funding.
His tenure with the London Symphony Orchestra is trickling out on a tide of indifference.
His moral leadership has evaporated.
Valery Gergiev has taken a severe reputation hit this past year, and on two fronts. His unqualified support for Vladimir Putin’s Crimea invasion has deterred sections of the western public, while his fly-by-night, barely-rehearsed performances have left others feeling cheated and a little bored. The gentle Times critic, Hilary Finch, reports today that he’s conducting the Ring ‘on auto-pilot’.
All of this is bad news for Brand Gergiev. If the Mariinsky is no longer a box-office draw, his tour plans will be confined to Russia and the Far East. If oligarchs won’t fund him, who will? Munich, his next orchestra, will keep a stringent eye on his close relations with the Putin regime.
The most gifted conductor of his generation, and its most interesting personality, is heading for tailspin.
What Gergiev needs right now is fresh strategy. He’s a shrewd businessman. He knows who to consult when his meat concession in Russia fails to sell enough turkeys for Christmas. He knows what to do when a soloist has peaked and requires a different career.
Gergiev is at a crossroads. Between business meetings and balance sheets, he should be urgently canvassing options. He needs, for once in his life, to obtain an objective assessment of his worsening musical situation. He needs, for once, to listen.