Mon ami, Kirill Petrenko

Mon ami, Kirill Petrenko


norman lebrecht

July 31, 2015

Our resourceful chers copains at resmusica have been having a conversation with Alain Altinoglu, a rare French conductor at Bayreuth, where he is in charge of the Lohengrin revival. In fact, he is only the third Frenchman on the hill, after André Cluytens and Pierre Boulez.

Alain is having a marvellous time, feeling his way into the extraordinary conditions that musicians endure in the covered pit. His fellow-conductors have been kind. Christian Thielemann, he says, gave him advice on how to cope with the extraordinary heat.

Kirill Petrenko he met in the corridor, about an hour after he was appointed music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. ‘He was so modest about it,’ says Alain. ‘In general, he’s very shy (timide), but a very great conductor. He talked to me about the fatigue that sets in when you’re rehearsing and conducting the four operas of the Ring.’

Je les ai croisés à des moments différents, ils ont chacun une grande expérience de Wagner et de Bayreuth en particulier. Christian m’a d’ailleurs donné quelques conseils très intéressants, non seulement musicalement, mais aussi sur la gestion de la chaleur en fosse par exemple. Il dirige à Bayreuth depuis si longtemps et il est totalement immergé dans Wagner et son livre sur Wagner est d’ailleurs extrêmement intéressant et brillant ! J’ai croisé Kirill aussi dans les loges, une heure après sa nomination au Philharmonique de Berlin et il était tellement modeste par rapport à cette désignation. Il est presque timide dans la vie d’ailleurs. Mais c’est aussi un très grand chef d’opéra. Il me parlait par exemple de la fatigue de répéter et diriger dans la saison les 4 opéras du Ring. C’est aussi une problématique dans la direction des opéras de Wagner, la gestion du flux musical, des tensions et détentes sur des temps longs. J’ai aussi invité mes étudiants en direction d’orchestre au CNSM à venir à la générale de Lohengrin. Apparemment, ça les a beaucoup marqués et je suis très heureux d’avoir pu leur permettre de vivre cette expérience.

Full interview here.



  • Olassus says:

    Altinoglu = wonderful conductor!

    Prokofiev, Puccini …

  • ruben greenberg says:

    I seem to remember that Cluytens was Belgian. At any rate, Altinoglu is French, and we’re lucky to have him. Why isn’t he the musical director of a French orchestra?

    • Armand says:

      The French musical establishment has this very strange behaviour of ignoring (and even belittling) French conductors. Stephane Deneve, Yann-Pascal Tortelier, Lionel Bringuier etc. are all brilliant conductors who pursue their activities in other countries, while all the first rate French orchestra appoint conductors from other countries!

      The same goes for the French composers (apart from Debussy & Ravel!) Remember, it was Sir Colin Davis who made Berlioz be known in France! Except for conductors such as Plasson et Mercier, it is very rare to hear works by D’indy, Ropartz, Magnard, Touremire, Pierné, Jean Cras, Gouvy, Ibert, etc., in concerts in France! It is even extrmely rare to hear such composers on “France Musique” (for these composers as well as British and northern European composers, I must listen to BBC R3!!).


      • Rob van der Hilst says:

        It is even more rare in The Netherlands: the almost NON-excistence in concerthalls and on radio and television of classical music by Dutch composers (period app. 1400 untill appr.1950).
        Result of a deep, deep, deep pitted ‘cultural inferioritycomplex’, I am afraid.

        But….this has opened already for very long splenddid opportunities for foreign musicpublishers to dump there editions (scores, parts) in the as ever before rich Dutch cultural borrow & buysoil.

    • Simon S. says:

      Acording to the French Wikipedia, Cluytens was born Belgian but acquired French citizenship in 1939.