Celebrated conductor Valery Gergiev leads the London Symphony in music of Debussy and Shostakovich at the 2011 Aix en Provence Festival – recorded on July 23, 2011 by Radio France.
The concert starts with Debussy’s La Mer and heads right into Shostakovich’s Symphony Number 8.
Valery Gergiev is a Russian conductor and opera company director of Ossetian origin. He is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.
In 1978, he became assistant conductor at the Kirov Opera, now the Mariinsky Opera, under Yuri Temirkanov, where he made his debut conducting Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace. He was chief conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra from 1981 until 1985 – the year he made his debut in the United Kingdom, along with pianist Evgeny Kissin and violinists Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin at the Lichfield Festival.
In 1991, for the first time, Gergiev conducted a western European opera company with the Bavarian State Opera in a performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in Munich. In the same year, he made his American début, performing War and Peace with the San Francisco Opera. Since then, he has conducted both operatic and orchestral repertoire across the world. He also participates in numerous music festivals, including the White Nights in St. Petersburg.
He became chief conductor and artistic director of the Mariinsky in 1988, and overall director of the company, appointed by the Russian government, in 1996. In addition to his artistic work with the Mariinsky, Gergiev has worked in fundraising for such projects as the recently built 1100-seat Mariinsky Hall, and intends to renovate the Mariinsky Theatre completely by 2010.
From 1995 to 2008, Gergiev was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997, he became principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His contract there ran until the 2007–2008 season, and his premieres included a new version of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, revised and reorchestrated by Igor Buketoff in a manner faithful to Mussorgsky’s intentions (unlike the Rimsky-Korsakov revision mostly used for many years until the 1960s or 1970s). In 2002, he was featured in one scene in the film Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov and filmed at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
In 2003, he initiated and conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre the first complete cycle of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung to be staged in Russia for over 90 years. The production’s design and concept reflects many aspects of Ossetian culture. Gergiev conducted this production in Cardiff in 2006 at the Wales Millennium Centre, in Costa Mesa, California in October 2006 in the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and in July 2007 in Lincoln Center, New York City to great acclaim and completely sold-out houses.
In 1988, Gergiev guest-conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for the first time. In his next appearance with the LSO in 2004, he conducted the seven symphonies of Sergei Prokofiev. This engagement led to his appointment in 2005 as the Orchestra’s fifteenth principal conductor, succeeding Sir Colin Davis effective 1 January 2007. Gergiev’s initial contract with the LSO was for 3 years.
His first official concert as principal conductor of the LSO was on 23 January 2007; this was originally scheduled for 13 January, but was postponed due to Gergiev’s illness.
In June 2011, Gergiev joined the International Tchaikovsky Competition and introduced reforms to the organisation, which included replacing academic judges with notable performers and introduced an openness to the process, arranging for all performances to be streamed live and free on the internet and for the judges to speak their minds in public as and whenever they wished.
Since 2015, Gergiev is chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.
On 5 May 2016, Gergiev competed at the Roman Theatre of Palmyra at a concert event called Praying for Palmyra – Music revives ancient ruins. It was devoted to the victims who died while liberating Palmyra from ISIS and should emphasize the state of the ancient city.
In all fairness, Gergiev has been at the center of several social controversies and has ruffled more than a few feathers over the years, but it’s probably best to let the music speak for itself.
Time to let the notes take over.