The other Petrenko gets a crack at Berlin

The other Petrenko gets a crack at Berlin


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2017

Zubin Mehta, out for a shoulder operation, has left two weeks of February concerts unfilled with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Bernard Haitink will take the first.

The second week goes to Petrenko – not Kirill, who is the incoming chief of the Berlin Phil, but the unrelated Vasily Petrenko, music director in Liverpool and Oslo.

This will be Vasily’s Berlin Phil debut.



  • ben LEGEBEKE says:

    So what? What is so special about this? That Haitink is taking over from Mehta; yes with his age this is remarkable! The Petrenko’s are imho mediocre conductors. Kirill was a very strange choice in Berlin, but understandable because after Karajan every following principal conductor was less good than his predecessor….

      • Christopher Madden says:

        What rubbish! How do you work out Petrenko (either, but my experience is of Vasily, whose performances I have followed over the years in Liverpool) is ‘mediocre’? Vasily in particular has garnered MANY awards for his recordings, whatever you think of awards. Perhaps you should visit Liverpool or Oslo with an open mind (or not closed-minded ears) and think through your unqualified negativity.

        I wouldn’t normally comment here as the amount of mean-spirited, enfeebled commenters is so widespread on Slipped Disc it would take a full time job to reach even a balanced view. But I’m sick to the back teeth of the dismissals without qualifications. Sure, if you provide evidence to support negative views, then I’d be more open to engaging. As it stands, though…

        Every ‘principal conductor’ after Karajan has NOT been less good than their predecessor; they have been DIFFERENT, approaching tradition and the idea of the institution in alternative ways that reflect each conductor’s background and methodology. Like Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Abbado and Rattle – not to mention Kiril Petrenko, in time – have worked on the orchestra’s sound and repertoire that have made it the global ambassador it is today. True, if it wasn’t for Karajan’s lead we may not have had the Digital Concert Hall, but without Rattle’s lead the youth of Berlin would not have benefited from increased access to an institution that, under Karajan, seemed to reach out only to the musical geniuses of the future who entered his Academy. Abbado transformed classical music for the better by inviting more and more young musicians to join its ranks (Karajan tried to do this too, of course, but sadly his attempted appointment of Sabine Meyer did not go down well with the orchestra at the time). Rattle’s concern for the Berlin Phil’s autonomy and increased rights as workers are undeniable facts. Perhaps without his light-touch influence we would not have had the Digital Concert Hall but also the in-house recording label…

        Vasily Petrenko’s Berlin Phil debut is an exciting – and long overdue – prospect. I wonder what the orchestra will think about their accidental debut fixture? Good luck to all concerned, I hope they enjoy the experience of meeting each other (and that Mehta makes a speedy recovery).

  • Robert says:

    What was so great about Karajan anyway?

  • Mike Browne says:

    Well said, Mr Madden – I agree with every word. Returning to this site after some time away, I am reminded just how often the comments offered seem so bitter and carping. How many of these contributors, I wonder, actually ENJOY music; and I doubt very much that any of these laptop critics could hold a candle to the achievements of the musicians they lambast- those playing and those directing.