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Star conductor Teodor Currentzis: The maestro has visions

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Teodor Currentzis is an artist who provokes. The conductor, born in 1972, has succeeded in splitting the world of classical music: Into a part that celebrates him as a savior who drives the mustiness out of the temples of high culture with radical interpretations. And into another part, which finds it difficult to endure his kind of electrocution-like conducting, his urge to overarch masterpieces of the past with his own personality.

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The fact that the Greek, who built his career in Russia over decades before becoming internationally known, cannot find clear words to position himself against Putin’s war of aggression has been accepted by his fans with grudging teeth – and so has the SWR Symphony Orchestra, its boss he has been since 2018 – while the Currentzis critics condemn this non-stance in the strongest possible terms. With his private orchestra musicaeterna, a troupe of instrumentalists and choristers loyal to him, he wants to appear in Moscow in November to perform Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”. The production should then also be able to be experienced in Baden-Baden and Dortmund.

It is about the search for the true spirit of the musical work

Teodor Currentzis

Before that, however, Teodor Currentzis is already on tour with his latest creation, including on October 11th in the Berlin Philharmonie: “Utopia” is what he calls the orchestra, for which he has called together “the best musicians from all over the world”. 112 professionals from 28 countries should form with him “a unique creative community of like-minded people” dedicated to “the search for the best sound and the true spirit of the musical work”.

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The ambitious undertaking is not financed by Russian sponsors – as in the case of musicaeterna, whose sponsors include the VTB Bank, which is on the European sanctions list – but by patrons from Western countries, who do not wish to appear by name. Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” as well as “La Valse” and the “Daphnis et Chloé” suite by Maurice Ravel are on the first “Utopia” program, in 2023 a tour with Gustav Mahler’s monumental 3rd symphony is to follow.

Works from the core repertoire are those that can be heard from top orchestras everywhere in cultural metropolises. But of course Maestro Currentzis wants to go beyond that, wants to be independent of institutions in order to make the unheard sound: “Our dreams can only come true if we lift the ban on the impossible.” That’s what visionaries say. Or gurus.

Claudio Abbado comes to mind: the Italian conductor also founded an orchestra of artist friends in 2003, albeit as part of the Nobel Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. His aesthetic goal was the refinement of our perception, the players should not only look at the maestro, but listen carefully to each other, i.e. play chamber music in a large ensemble. The result was delightful.

Abbado’s Lucerne Festival Orchestra has not made the world better, fairer or even more inclusive. Neither will Currentzis succeed with his project. The case of a Berlin ensemble, which has been called “Utopia” since 2018, is completely different. And rightly so: Because the conductor Mariano Domingo brings people with and without disabilities together to make music together. Perhaps Teodor Currentzis will at least give the members of the barrier-free orchestra, whose name he has annexed, tickets for his October performance in the Philharmonie.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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