Gergiev, Shostakovich, Tskhinvali


Turns out the great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev is Ossetian and, having made his career in St. Petersburg, a friend of Putin’s. He took his Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre to Tskhinvali last night and conducted the Shostakovich 7th Symphony in an outdoor concert to commemorate “victims of Georgian aggression.”

Here‘s a column I wrote on Gergiev and Shostakovich a few years ago. Frankly I’m heartsick at the conductor’s decision to insert himself into this story on what, to me, seems the aggressor’s side. But it has almost always been true that where you stand depends on where you sit, and an Ossetian from St. Petersburg would probably see things differently. Sigh.


Gergiev, Shostakovich, Tskhinvali

  1. Gergiev is Principal Conductor of the LSO, no?

    Perhaps we should set aside NATO membership for Georgia for a moment and the British government could pay to send the LSO to Tbilisi to hold a concert to commemorate “victims of Russian aggression”. (See what I did there? I combined arts funding and Georgia! This is about to become some sort of giant uber-post!).

    Do you suppose Gergiev would conduct that concert too? If not, perhaps Sir Colin Davis would go.

  2. I saw Gergiev conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Paris a couple of weeks before I came home. (Hadn’t realized that the Vienna Phil has no permanent musical director, and they simply decide whom they will permit to conduct them for a given concert or recording.) He did Tchaikovsky and some other stuff. I found it really surprisingly ordinary. The London critics have been raking Gergiev over the coals for not preparing (he travels like a madman) and for having nothing much to say with some of these pieces. I do like the LSO-in-Tbilisi idea though..devilish.

    FWIW, the best orchestral experiences I had in Europe were: Boston Symphony, Levine, Berlioz Damnation de Faust; LA Philharmonic, Salonen, Sibelius symphonies 1 and 3; Dresden Staatskapelle, Luisi, Strauss Die Heldenleben. Those Dresden strings played as though the cops were waiting for them outside.

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