Berlin Phil gets a CD out of Kirill

Berlin Phil gets a CD out of Kirill


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2019

The orchestra are very excited to have persuaded their chief conductor, against his natural inclinations, to issue a recording.


On 23 August, Kirill Petrenko conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time as their chief conductor. As a foretaste, Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony is now being released on their first CD edition together. It features a performance which vividly brings out both the finest nuances of colour and grand psychological drama. The orchestra’s musicians, audiences and journalists had high expectations of the concert. After all, this was their first appearance together since the Berliner Philharmoniker had elected Kirill Petrenko as their chief conductor two years earlier.



  • Couperin says:

    Love the recording, and I also love the cover art.. Very much looking forward to hearing what Maestro Petrenko accomplishes this season!

  • M. says:

    The booklet includes an interesting essay by Petrenko about these performances of the “Pathétique” and their recording, which concludes with: “Who knows how sel- dom or often it will be the case, but on evenings that have turned out especially well—when one has the feeling that something extraordinary has taken place—and the artistic quality measures up, I have nothing at all against releasing it.”
    “… nothing at all against releasing it” does not denote too much enthusiasm about the recording business!


      It’s a lot of packaging for 44 mins. of music.

      His agent told me seven months ago: “As [is] widely known, Mr. Petrenko doesn’t record at all.

      “Any exceptions are projects with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra which they plan and publish on their own label for which Berlin Philharmonic Media is responsible.”

      That was a response to a suggestion someone should issue KP recordings with the equally capable and often more expressive Bavarian State Orchestra (estab. 1811), presenting the work of soloists such as David Schultheiß, Jakob Spahn and Andreas Schablas.

      Actually nearly everything gets recorded nowadays, here in Munich mostly by BR. The only question is whether it gets released.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    He is also planning to possibly record Josef Suk’s Asrael Symphony with them. That would be something to look forward to if it eventuates.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      That would be duplication. Petrenko recorded the Asrael Symphony (along with other works by Suk) in 2002 with the Orchestra of the Komische Oper in Berlin, of which he was then its Chief Conductor. These recordings are still available on the German cpo label.

      • mathias broucek says:

        The CPO box is worth getting hold of but the Orchestra can’t compare to the Czech PO (with various conductors) or Bavarian RSO (Kubelik on Panton)

        A re-recording would therefore be interesting

  • Emanuele Passerini says:

    it’s actually a very high level interpretation, I cannot shout as masterpiece but surely I can keep it among my favourite/impressive ones (Mravinsky/Leningrad on the top) and also very well recorded, I hope he will release more CDs in his Berlin life as people cannot just fly there and sit at the Philharmonie or buy the digital subscription.. “recording” is not just a business, but a way to spread the artistic view (if he’s interested to share it..)

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==against his natural inclinations, to issue a recording.

    That’s good. He’s not like some performers whose aim is to record (more than once if possible) the entire classical cannon.

    I’ll be sure to buy this CD. THanks for the tip-off.

  • anon says:

    So the whole CD packaging experience is still important today.

    We are a tactile and acquisitive species, we like to collect objects.

    I understand all the plastic and paper cost very little.

    Is it a generational thing though?

    • Herr Doktor says:

      As someone who still believes CDs are an amazing gift to humanity, let me tell you why I refuse to dump my CD collection and go digital. I am not interested in listening to the same recording but with an inferior sound (i.e. mp3s). Yes, I know there are places where once can acquire “lossless” recordings, but they are more difficult to find. CDs work perfectly well and sound great. And I’m not interested in listening to anything in any order other than what it is supposed to be presented in. That includes sequencing of multiple works on the same disc. Yes, I know you can still do this with digital copies, but I’m perfectly happy with what I have.

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        I agreed wholeheartedly.

        When I once considered digitizing my 2000 cds, I stumbled primarily on three issues:
        – cataloging software
        – hardware cost of easily a couple thousand dollars to match the cd sound quality
        – access to booklets.
        – time needed to digitize the cds.

        Fixing a system that was not broke would have required endless time, money and energy, all of which could be spent elsewhere, including trouble free listening to the music through the actual CDs.

        All that said, I would have probably gone straight for lossless digital, if I were now a teenager.

  • Augustine says:

    And thanks to the new distribution arrangement…

    …you can hear it on IDAGIO.

  • Ben says:

    His Berliner concerts are already on DCH. What’s the beef about the reluctance on CD? Is that really true?

  • Monsoon says:

    His “holier than thou” attitude — he rarely sits for interviews, doesn’t want to make release recordings, etc. — is exactly what gives classical music a bad name.

    • Andrew R. Barnard says:

      Or it could just be reticence and preference for music-making over interviews. And it could be he’s self-critical enough that he doesn’t want to release recordings unless he feels they could be truly extraordinary. More likely, I’d say.

      It’s funny how people made fun of Rattle for numerous cheesy interviews and then pounce on Petrenko for reticence. Can’t please everyone, they say.

    • Tamino says:

      Holier than thou? Completely disagree. He just has a certain personality and artistic priorities. Not bad for classical music at all, to the contrary. The oddity with him only is his marriage with the BerlinPhil, arguably THE media related orchestra of the second half of the 20th century, mostly through Karajan’s ambitions.

      It’s a bit like the pope getting chosen as husband by Scarlett Johansson. Good luck!

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==His “holier than thou” attitude

    Hmm, isn’t the internet wonderful ? You can say exactly what you want 🙁 What a load of nonsense !!

    KP is truly wonderful and (like I’m sure many other SD readers) I’m going to follow him closely.

    BTW – I love the modest way he always has the score in front of him, even in that rather well known piece Beethoven 7th.

  • Tamino says:

    They are a mismatch then. Berlin Phil has built their legacy pretty much on their recording legacy.
    It’s hard to believe into a total change of that paradigm. Petrenko’s monkish reclusiveness stands for an antithesis to Karajan’s narcissistic mass appeal. The building, their hall itself, is an iconic symbol of all that ‘circus’ Karajan envisioned and formed as their image.
    All this probably was not thought through enough, when Petrenko emerged as the only possible compromise candidate to create white smoke, after the orchestra behind locked doors had gotten into a confrontation and deadlock over their primary choices Thielemann and Barenboim.

  • barry guerrero says:

    OK, I’m very glad that the BPO voted ‘with its heart’ and hired Petrenko. What little I’ve seen and heard with him seems really, really good. But – just to be picky – it’s not as though the Berlin Phil. hasn’t made great recordings of the “Pathetique” in its storied past. In addition to Karajan and Furtwaengler, there’s also a ‘pirate’ of Ference Fricsay doing it with the BPO. Not’s not to be confused with his outstanding DG recording of no. 6 with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra – my personal favorite of any (although I do love the outrageous trombones on Bernstein’s last N.Y. Phil. recording of it for DG). In short, I’ll become more interested if he re-records Suk’s “Asrael” with the BPO.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Thanks, Barry, for that shout out to Ferenc Fricsay’s BRSO recording. It’s perhaps my favorite modern recording too. I love me some Ferenc Fricsay!
      But if you can find it, give a listen to Nikolai Golovanov’s recording with what is called on my particular CD issue the “UDSSR Radio Symphony Orchestra”.
      I have this on a “Gebhardt” CD issue, JGCD 0058-3, a 3-CD set with a number of other mind-blowing Golovanov Tchaikovsky recordings.
      The recorded sound is strictly postwar Stalin-era krapski and there are only microscopic pauses between movements, but I swear to g*d it is the most emotionally committed performance of any Tchaikovsky ANYTHING I have ever heard. The orchestra plays like it’s trying to show up the Leningrad Phil.
      And it does.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    I’m looking forward to him doing Beethoven 3rd concerto next spring with Barenboim

    • Tamino says:

      Really, he’s doing Beethoven 3rd again? After having done it with Lars Vogt same place just a few years ago?
      (and having returned only a handful of times since)
      Early signs of “Carlos Kleiberitis”?
      Sticking to a carry on bag of scores only?