In his inaugural year in munich in 2015, the russian maestro still made it to the wiesn in a highly personal way.
His jovial appearance at the oktoberfest in tongued lederhosen was good for the image, but valery gergiyev’s debut as chief conductor of the munich philharmonic was accompanied by fierce dissonance. In a memorable press conference, he had to justify his support for vladimir putin’s expansionist auburn policy and for remarks on homosexuality that critics considered disrespectful.
This year only philharmonic director paul muller liked to be photographed at the wiesn, the "abendzeitung" was allowed to accompany him on the ride in the autoscooter. Muller spoke in a chatty tone mainly about the current jubilee season, which starts on saturday (13.10) with the performance of gustav mahler’s all-dimensions-exceeding 8. Symphony ("symphony of a thousand") reaches its peak in the philharmonic hall in the gasteig. Afterwards there will be a festive reception to celebrate 125 years of existence.
After his sometimes musically bumpy start, gergiyev has arrived in munich and with the philharmonics. The musicians have learned to read the maestro’s tremulous signalling, and gergiyev is increasingly willing to engage with their specific sound, which is particularly evident in anton bruckner’s symphonies. The bruckner scholar ferdinand lowe had started the orchestra’s bruckner tradition with, among other things, the munich premiere of his 5. Symphony. Since sergiu celibidache’s legendary miracles of sound, the munich philharmonic has been considered the bruckner orchestra par excellence.
But the philharmonics, affectionately called "philis" by their fans, are also very familiar with the music of gustav mahler. Founded in 1893 as a private initiative under the name "kaim orchestra" – franz kaim was the art-minded son of a munich piano manufacturer – the orchestra gained such a reputation within a few years that gustav mahler gave it the premieres in 1901 and 1910 – under his own direction – of his 4. And 8. Symphony entrusted. Since then, the orchestra of the former bavarian residence, later state capital, has repeatedly been able to attract important conductors: from felix weingartner in the early days to oswald kabasta, hans rosbaud, rudolf kempe, celibidache, james levine, christian thielemann and lorin maazel to gergijew.
The 125th anniversary is celebrated with a lavish weekend of festivities. In addition to the "symphony of a thousand" on saturday evening, there will be a new edition of gergiyev’s festival "mphil 360 degrees", which will again feature his mariinski orchestra from st. Petersburg performs. The motto of the jubilee season is "building bridges" and, according to muller, this refers to the connections between russian and german repertoire.
Just in time for the jubilee season, gergiyev had extended his contract until 2024/25. The next challenge will come in 2020, when the orchestra will have to move into a wooden interim venue due to the general renovation of the gasteig cultural center. The provisional arrangement offers opportunities for a rejuvenation of the audience and the program. "We want to be more experimental," said gergiyev at the presentation of the season in the spring. With the format "tailcoat meets traditional costume", the philis want to try this out on the anniversary weekend, together with amateur brass musicians from the music association of upper and lower bavaria.