Berlin Phil freshens up for Kirill Petrenko’s first US tour

Berlin Phil freshens up for Kirill Petrenko’s first US tour


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2022

The Berlin Philharmonic has been briefing local media about its forthcoming 15-day US tour, starting on November 8.

It will be the orchestra’s first visit with music director Kirill Petrenko and its first US tour for six years. Nerves are evident. Petrenko made it a condition of his contract that he will never give media intervews.

How the US media will react to his silence ahead of a three-day residency at Carnegie Hall will be a test of journalistic humanity.

Content for the tour incudes Mahler’s 7th symphony, Korngold’s F# symphony and a piece called Unstuck by the US composer Andrew Norman. The orchestra’s American concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley will feature in Mozart’s first violin concerto.

Other venues are Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor (Michigan) and a first visit by the orchestra to Florida.


UPDATE: Also sprach Petrenko


  • Gustavo says:

    I believe Sarah Willis will be taking care of the social twittering and journalistic chatter.

  • Rosario says:

    Are you ever going to stop beating the dead horse that is Petrenko not giving interviews? He hasn’t since he left Komische Oper and it doesn’t look like its diminishing his popularity judging by the amount of applause he gets wherever he goes. In addition, he hasn’t exactly been silent considering he took part in a press conference for U.S. media the other day.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      The fact that he don’t gives itw is not very important. The problem is more in the fact that he don’t make a lot of records. A Schubert cycle would be a clever thing to do. I have seen the BPO palying with him in concert the 9th it’s a thing I want to regain on a cd.

      • Rosario says:

        While it’s not a priority to him, he does with their own label. They’ll release Shostakovich 8, 9 und 10 soon. Apparently Suk and more Tchaikovsky (the operas) are also in the works.

      • JB says:

        There is Digital Concert Hall. The fact that Petrenko doesn’t make records fits quite well into Berlin’s strategy to promote their streaming service. CD’s are dead anyway.

        • Concertgebouw79 says:

          I know the concerts of the BPO but a record is à legacy for decades. The Concertgebouw also don t make enough records.

      • Claudio says:

        Totally agree, I wish he made more records.
        As far as I know BPO has all the technical possibilities to do that, and they have done lots of records with Rattle, but Petrenko avoids this activity. Hope he’ll change his mind before it will be too late.

      • Rupert Kinsella says:

        I agree. Maybe BP is trying to generate demand for their streaming service but I too would like more conventional recordings.

    • Claudio says:

      Actually, if NL will try to login to, it will be quite a few, mostly about upcoming concerts.

      When viewing them, you can notice how he is uncomfortable during filming (that’s my impession).

      I do not think that every BPO chief should be a copy if Karajan, and produce lots of media content as well as quality music.

      Kirill is good as he is, and we must appreciate him as he is.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Sadly for this listener, there was nothing being performed on the BPO’s tour that I wanted to hear.

    I’ve heard through the grapevine that BPO ticket sales in Boston are off from expectations. Is that any wonder when the “center” of the program is the Korngold Symphony?

    One can only admire Maestro Petrenko for having the courage to promote works he loves. But in the general scheme of things, is the Korngold symphony worthy of that level of “love”?

    (In my opinion, at best it belongs on the first half of a concert program, with a more substantive piece on the second half.)

    • Henry williams says:

      When an orchestra plays a work that is not
      Well known the hall can be half full. I once saw
      Muti with the Philadelphia orchestra play
      A Balakirev symphony .the hall was half empty
      This was in London

    • Jobim75 says:

      If so, he ‘ll play some Suk in second part…

    • Stephen Owades says:

      You can see how well sold the Berliners’ concert in Boston is from the Celebrity Series ticket ordering page. Available seats are quite sparse!

  • RW2013 says:

    Finally the glorious Korngold symphony getting an airing (and good on him for not bothering with the media).

  • lamed says:

    Look, he made it to the head of the Berlin Philharmonic by coming out of nowhere and beating out all the favorites, so I’d say that his PR strategy of maintaining that aura of mysterious silence is working just fine ; )

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      He got half as many votes as Thielemann.

      • Tristan says:

        Thielemann isn’t wanted given his awful personality – wherever he was he left acrimoniously
        Besides his repertoire is limited and he only shines with Wagner Bruckner and Strauss – the rest is rather mediocre

      • Rosario says:

        There are about 100 versions of what went down during the voting process – so what makes you believe this one is true and not the one of them choosing Petrenko early on, him declining, them then not being able to settle between Thielemann and Nelsons, and then taking a couple of weeks to convince Petrenko? Something pro this version and that doesn’t add up in most others is how in the world did they get the famously reclusive and thoughtful Petrenko decide to quit Munich and head to Berlin in a short phone call?

        Anyway, judging by the receptions they both get, it seems Petrenko was a very good choice. I like them both and their different styles, but Petrenko always gets the more heartfelt reactions from the audience, even when he conducts Korngold and the likes. To my surprise the Berlin concerts of the Korngold programme are actually almost sold out already. Just a dozen or so tickets left.

    • Tristan says:

      No he is just by far the most exciting one around since Carlos Kleiber so leave him in peace in our woke media world

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      He didn’t come from of nowhere when he was chosen by the BPO. Before he came in Bayreuth and at the Munich Opera.

  • Novagerio says:

    The Philharmonic of the former Prussian Capital performing only Austrian works on a US tour! 😉

  • Fernandel says:

    It is Petrenko’s right to cherish Korngold’s Symphony. That the work really fits an important international tour is questionable.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      I like the fact that Petrenko wants to play some composers unknown or very rarely played from the past. He did that for Villa-Lobos and Suk for exemple in concerts.

    • RW2013 says:

      It might (and should) win some new admirers.
      But that noisy, obligatory opener by a Merrrrkin composer?!
      Why not something by a legend like Ned Rorem?

    • Don Ciccio says:

      I was actually looking forward hearing this work live, finally. Alas, I will not be able to make it.

  • Gustavo says:

    John Williams came to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic and didn’t give an interview either.

  • Berliner says:

    Never are evident ? Berlin Phil doesn’t need approval from the US…

  • Mock Mahler says:

    It seems odd that two of the three Carnegie Hall concerts are Mahler 7, though I suppose that will fill that seats. (Yes, I will be there though only once.)

  • Mr Bongo says:

    Petrenko, Thieleman, Ticciati, Viotti, Makela, etc very bland music making. Look at Rattle’s time at the LSO, shambles.

    Sad times.

  • Douglas Meakin says:

    I heard the bpo and petrenko at the proms Mahler 7. Now I’ve been to many concerts but it was really special. Not sure quite why, but its in my top five concerts ever for sure.

  • Save the MET says:

    The fact the Berlin Phil has disted off the Korngold symphony gives me hope.

  • meister says:

    I saw the bpo play on digital concert hall, and it looks like they’ve brought in a young north american tuba player as a ringer for their tour as well as their normal tubist was out.