The conductor was in reflective mood last night with friends, enjoying a post-birthday dinner – he turned 62 at the weekend – and mourning the death of his close friend, the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.
He said: ‘It was the worst birthday. In the morning Maya and Rodion (Shchedrin) congratulated me, and in the evening Plisetskaya was dead. I can not talk about it until now, I accepted the Munich orchestra largely because of them. Maya fed me all the time.’
The Shchedrins, Gergiev’s closest musical friends, moved to Munich in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.