Gergiev is back making lovely with the Vienna Philharmonic

Gergiev is back making lovely with the Vienna Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

February 22, 2022

Valery Gergiev turned up on Saturday for his tour curtain-raiser with the Vienna Philharmonic.

They played music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique.

The tour now rolls on to Germany and the US.

As if nothing has happened in Ukraine.

(There may be trouble ahead.)


Image: Gergiev at a pro-Putin rally last year


  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Why should the terrible events in Ukraine have any influence on the Vienna Philharmonic’s tour of Germany and the USA with Gergiev?

  • Amos says:

    Perhaps he can make a quick side trip to Luhansk and without rehearsal lead a military band in a few fascist tunes. At the very least it might earn him a few medals.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Yes, I am absolutely with all of you, but he has conducted the VPO every year since the annexation of Crimea which has been a violation of international law. The orchestra isn‘t apparently caring for his ties with Putin. It is naive to think that it will be different now.

  • Peter van Laarhoven says:

    He did not just “turn up” on Saturday nor did he “dump” Vienna Phil on Friday (as you previously reported). He tested positive for Covid on Feb 10 or 11, went into isolation for a week and hence could not make it for the concert with Vienna Phil on Friday 18 and was just in time (and apparently without symptoms) for the concert on Saturday 19.

  • John Kelly says:

    It should be interesting on Friday evening at Carnegie with the VPO, Gergiev and Matsuev………

    • imbrod says:

      Concert is scheduled for Saturday and is still up on Carnegie’s website. I imagine Gergiev will perform unless the State Department imposes sanctions on Russian artists in the US before the weekend (doubtful). Gergiev always gets picketed at Carnegie; I hope the NYPD is prepared for a larger than usual demonstration.

    • NYMike says:

      There will undoubtedly be picketing @ CH. I will attend Fri. and Sat.

  • The most overrated musician of the past 50 years,and bearing in mind the competitian that’s some achievement.

    • Tristan says:

      you forgot Rattle, FWM and many others who are overrated Gergiev can be fascinating exciting and is a very passionate conductor with the right repertoire

      • Nydo says:

        I would say the same about Rattle; his record of excellent to superlative concerts while on tour to NYC with various orchestras over the years has been pretty high. Welser-Moest, not so much.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Regardless of how anyone rates Gergiev, he still recorded lots of Russian opera that no-one else will even get a chance to record these days. Whether you think so or not, you’ve heard worse.

  • Chris Ponto says:

    I have trouble with the mixing of politics and the arts. I didn’t like it with the McCarthy Era and also believe that the “cancel culture” is even worse. I recall very well that posters on another music blog endeavored to boycott Susan Graham because she sang at George W. Bush’s inaugural. This made me wonder if I should burn my Leontyne collection, as she sang at LBJ’s inaugural and he killed exponentially more people in Vietnam than Bush did in Iraq. This is a slippery slope. I also don’t think the average American knows or cares much about Ukraine and I think they regard Putin as a mastermind totalitarian who cannot be stopped. There will be much infighting here about the realpolitik of the situation, and it will quickly devolve into a Trump-slanted brawl. (Because everything does.) Yet if one stands for politics staying out of the arts, which few posters do these days, it’s still going to be interesting to see if Gergiev is welcomed with open arms in NYC.

    • V.Lind says:

      “I also don’t think the average American knows or cares much about Ukraine…”

      “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”

      ― Mark Twain

  • christopher storey says:

    Is he a musician ? I thought he was a stick waver

  • Imbrod says:

    I posted too soon–Gergiev is indeed scheduled to conduct on Friday, AND Saturday and Sunday. As someone once said, it’s gonna be wild.

    • Nydo says:

      Hopefully wild in the way the Svetlanov Shostakovich 10 at the Proms was in 1968 (given the evidence on the Testament CD of that concert). I don’t attend concerts to air my politics, I go to hear music performed.

      • John Kelly says:

        Trust me, Gergiev is no Svetlanov!

        • Nydo says:

          Perhaps not, but both are characterized by inconsistency, and in both cases that has included some pretty great high points, at least from my vantage point. I only got to hear Svetlanov live twice in his last tour of the US, and it was pretty sad; I have to rely on his recordings to form an opinion. Gergiev I have heard in about twenty five live performances, and I would count about a third of those as being exceptionally good; and perhaps the same amount as underprepared or not fully engaged.

  • Wilhelm says:

    so he did not dump them after all? and please do not mix art with politics, it is boring and so biased it does not merit reading.

  • Gustavo says:

    Maybe it would be appropriate to change the programme to “Ilya Muromets” by Reinhold Glière to pay tribute to the rebirth of the Kyivan Rus’ federation.

  • Doug says:

    Hitler promoted Wagner, Putin loves Gergiev; I guess it’s a fascistic dictator thing

  • Sam's Hot Car Lot says:

    Does anyone know if Putin gets a cut of Gergiev’s earnings?

    If so, Gergiev may face significant sanctions.

    • John Kelly says:

      Gergiev pays income tax in Russia. It seems to me that Putin gets a pretty big cut of overall income taxes received, so – yes.

  • Fliszt says:

    Which is Gergiev’s bigger crime – supporting Putin’s agression, or performing with Matsuev?

  • Novagerio says:

    “As if nothing happened in Ukraine”, as if the whole classical music business should have stopped when the US invaded
    1. Grenada (1983-1984)
    2. Bolivia (1986)
    3. Virgin Islands (1989)
    4. Liberia (1990; 1997; 2003)
    5. Saudi Arabia (1990-1991)
    6. Kuwait (1991)
    7. Somalia (1992-1994; 2006)
    8. Bosnia (1993-)
    9. Zaire/Congo (1996-1997)
    10. Albania (1997)
    11. Sudan (1998)
    12. Afghanistan (1998; 2001-)
    13. Yemen (2000; 2002-)
    14. Macedonia (2001)
    15. Colombia (2002-)
    16 Pakistan (2005-)
    17. Syria (2008; 2011-)
    18. Uganda (2011)
    19. Mali (2013)
    20. Niger (2013)
    21. Yugoslavia (1919; 1946; 1992-1994; 1999)
    22. Iraq (1958; 1963; 1990-1991; 1990-2003; 1998; 2003-2011)
    23. Angola (1976-1992)
    or when Great Britain invaded the Falklands…

    • Gustavo says:

      Yeah, just like East Germany was overrolled by BRD.

    • Brettermeier says:


      Sooo, Novagerio… Erm, when did any of the aforementioned countries became US territory? Oh, they didn’t? I see, okay… So it’s basically just a list that has nothing to do with Russia invading Ukraine and more about you showing the world that you can make a list?

      “Attaboy!”, I guess?

  • Gustavo says:

    The suggestion to perform “Ilya Murometz” was censored.

  • christopher storey says:

    Novagerio : actually, it was Argentina which invaded the Falklands – and didn’t that go well for them ? If you want to make offensive comments which are blatant lies ( a bit like Putin when one thinks about it) go and do it somewhere else

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    Putin’s behaviour in Moscow is about par for the course in that place.
    What worries me more is Trudeau’s abuse of emergency powers in Canada…

  • Lev Deych says:

    It is unconscionable that Carnegie hasn’t canceled Gergiev’s concert when Russian bombs fall on Ukrainian cities. Shame on them and on all those who will go to listen to this travesty. The concert must be canceled.