Before his debut with WASO, we spoke with world-acclaimed Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko on the diverse concert repertoire, the beauty of classical works and his earliest experience of music.
Can you tell us about your first encounter with music and the moment you decided to make music a career?
My first encounter with music was before birth, while my mother was pregnant with me. For some reason, in Spring 1975, she bought a subscription to the Leningrad Philharmonic’s Great Conductors series in 1975/76 and visited all the concerts (she never did it before or after!). So I had listened to music through her ears before I was born in July when the season concluded.
The moment I decided to make it a career is more challenging to pinpoint - I feel that it could be any time between 7 and 12 years old when I studied at an exceptional music school in St Petersburg, where you are told nearly every day that you'll be a conductor in the future.
As a conductor, how do you get connected with the music?
Mainly through "reading" the scores. When I see the full score, I hear the music playing in my head. Then the mind elaborates, even if you don't look at the music. Of course, later, I listen to many recordings, mainly to find new ideas and details which can or can't be implemented into my interpretation.
The repertoire for your upcoming concert consists of different musical styles and eras; how do you find the transition/connection on each piece?
Of course, Nielsen, Mozart and Shostakovich belong to different eras, societies and music styles. That is the beauty of classical music - to have such a vast and versatile heritage over the last 300-400 years! And to perform each piece in its style, related to each composer's life, time, historical happenings and personal backgrounds. But there are connections, too; for example, Shostakovich was forced to do some "masquerading" in his music, hiding dissident ideas and motives inside his symphonies.
When people see this performance, what do you think will strike them most about the music?
I think it will be the refinedness of Mozart's style and time, in stark contrast with the power and violence of the Shostakovich. And the quirkiness of Nielsen, alongside some typically Danish colours in his overture.
This will be your first performance with WASO. What are you most looking forward to?
As always, meeting with a new orchestra is a discovery. The discovery of a unique sound, soul and spirit, not just of the orchestra but also of the city, its mentality and character. I'm looking forward to meeting and playing music with great musicians and sharing the great joy of being on stage with them and the public!
Vasily Petrenko Conducts Shostakovich
Friday 29 July & Saturday 30 July 2022, 7:30pm
Perth Concert Hall