This concert season the artistic director and principal conductor of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, People’s Artist of USSR, Laureate of the State Award of USSR and Glinka’s State Award of the Russian Federation is celebrating the 50-th anniversary of his conducting career.

It is a noteworthy fact: the maestro turned seventy five on August 7, 2007, but V.Fedoseyev chose to be congratulated on another occasion– his conducting anniversary. Incidentally, 2007 marked 33 years since he began directing the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra. It is not a proper anniversary but symbolic enough. “Half a century ago I began working at the conductor’s stand, - Fedoseyev recalls. - 50 years have passed and today I ask myself: what have I done and what I have not yet done in my profession? You see, if you come somewhere to give a concert and after that you are invited again it means that you have really managed to do something and to achieve something. Our profession is “long”, the older you get, the more wisdom you gain and your life experience gives a new impulse, new understanding of the music you played 20 and 30 years ago… You start treating it differently. You know, sometimes I get embarrassed when I listen to my own recordings. Sometimes I listen to them and do not recognize myself.

Once Eugene Mravinsky invited me to conduct his legendary orchestra. I consider him to be my teacher, he exemplifies a devotee of art. The fact that he had been directing his orchestra for 50 years speaks for itself. I have been at the conductor’s stand for 50 years too, 33 of them – in TSO. It is a great period. Directing one and the same orchestra for so many years is hard work.

Fedoseyev celebrated his jubilee on October 20 by a concert in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Missa solemnis by Beethoven was performed. Beethoven has been one of the maestro’s favorite composers throughout his whole career and especially so in the present period (we still remember the recent concert cycle “Beethoven and… Beethoven” where all the symphonies, piano concertos and other works by the great Viennese genius were performed. The Viennese choir “Singverein” and soloists Crassimira Stoyanova (soprano, Austria), Ivonne Naef (mezzo-soprano, Switzerland), Kurt Azesberger (tenor, Austria), Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass, Italy) participated in the concert together with the TSO.

I.Naef: "There are conductors who have everything preprogrammed: you can't tell a rehearsal from a concert. But not Fedoseyev. Everything that happens on stage under his baton is unpredictable and more interesting than during the rehearsal. His hands are like rose-petals yet they support the artist. These moments are very touching and intimate and it gives me great pleasure to experience them".

The date of the concert – October 20 – was not chosen randomly. It was the day the “Singverein” choir celebrated its 150th anniversary. And the maestro planned to perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis only with this choir. V. Fedoseyev: “The singers in this choir are amateurs, they get together and sing after work. But there is such overwhelming enthusiasm and boundless love for music! Sometimes you can make less progress with professionals when you see their indifference and tired faces. But with these performers you can feel the passion, their eyes are burning with fire, they live for their art and I get an emotional feedback working with them. I consider “Singverein” to be one of the best choirs in Europe and in the world”.

It should be noted that the Moscow audience had a chance to appreciate the skill of the choir not only during the performance of “Missa solemnis” but also at the end of the jubilee concert when “Singverein” sang “Mnogaya Leta” in honour of the maestro. The performance of “Missa solemnis” was undoubtedly an outstanding event in the new concert season of TSO and A.Fedoseyev. This season began at the end of August in Cannes (France) at the Russian Art Festival. A unique project of the conductor and the orchestra: a music-literary composition “War and Peace” after L.Tolstoy’s novel, including pieces by Beethoven (Symphony No.3 “Eroica”), Tchaikovsky (“1812”, festival overture) and Prokofiev (highlights from the opera “War and Peace”), was performed there for the first time.

“On stage of the Debussy theatre is the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra– an elite symphony ensemble which is able to reproduce all kinds of musical nuances. The most famous Russian maestro, the artistic director of the orchestra, Vladimir Fedoseyev is at the conductor’s stand. Having combined music and word… Vladimir Fedoseyev created a fitting program for the 10th Festival of Russsian culture in Cannes.

… The scene of this splendid composition (fresco) is set amidst the roar and violence of the battleground against a love-story background. The melody of the Russian language was reproduced by two wonderful actors – Mikhail Filippov (the artist of the Mayakovsky theatre) and Darya Moroz (actress of the Art Theatre named after A.Chekhov)”. A.Bucer “Nice Matin”

The conductor says this composition is a reaction of sorts to “The Year of the Russian Language” which was marked in Europe in 2007. “We have been organizing this event for a long time, - V.Fedoseyev said, - and have always been addressing the works of such great Russian writers as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol”. The Moscow audience got acquainted with the composition “War and Peace” in October 2007 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

The concerts “Musical Masterpieces for the Violin” held in the Red Square, September 1 (soloists A.Baeva, G.Bell, H.Hun, P.Zukerman – violin; N.Kotova – cello; V.Fedoseyev, M.Vengerov – conductors); “Russia-Switzerland” - Svetlanov Hall of the Moscow International House of Music, September 13 (soloists: R.Bieri – clarinet, D.Illarionov - guitar); “Its majesty music… In memory of Luciano Pavarotti - the Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory, September 16. (Soloists: V.Repin – violin, K.Stoyanova – soprano and many other Russian and foreign artists) were the highlights of the beginning of this season.

The tour of TSO to Great Britain took place from September 28 to October 13. (Bristol, London, Cambridge, Croyden, Leeds, Birmingham,). Five different programs were performed (including the Second Symphony by Borodin, “Petrushka” by Stravinsky, “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov). The British press has over and over again commended the “splendid string section”, the “wonderful woodwinds and brass”, the “bewitching sound of solos”.

TSO presents 3 concert cycles from Public subscription in the season 2007-2008: “Music for everybody” (the 10th anniversary season) - dedicated to the memory of Nikolay Rubinstein (6 concerts); “From the “Gold Collection. Choosing…” (5 concerts); “Sunday Mass. Blessed are those who listen and hear…” – V.Fedoseyev’s new project as the sequel to cycle of concerts “Sunday afternoon…” (4 concerts).

The orchestra took part in the final concert of the Festival dedicated to R.Shchedrin’s 75th anniversary (December 18, 2007, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory), in the 3rd round and the final concert of the VIth International Paganini Violin Competition, V.Fedoseyev was one of the judges of the competition.

V.Fedoseyev continues his collaboration with well-known European orchestras (the Berlin Rundfunk-orchestra, the Viener Philarmonic, the Turin Symphony orchestra, the Bamberg Philarmonic).

In May the premiere of the opera “Boris Godunov” by Mussorgsky will take place on the stage of the Zurich Opera House with V.Fedoseyev as conductor and director.

V.Fedoseyev: “I like this Opera House for its “family” atmosphere, the quiet pace of work. You can hardly find something like it today, business controls everything, everybody wants to produce more performances at the expense to their quality. Besides, the Zurich Opera House – is one of the best in Europe, and the orchestra is the best of them all, in my opinion. Nowadays many directors are trying to modernize the opera classic, but in fact they are destroying it. You should proceed from the source, from music”.

But, of course, the principal projects of the maestro are with TSO, to which he has devoted a quarter of a century.

V.Fedoseyev: “I had all sorts of situations with the orchestra and my relationship with it changed too. For instance, there was a period when we were literally thrown out into the street. But we survived and were reborn with God’s help and the help of many good people who appreciated our role in the spiritual life of our country. The situation was easier in the soviet period because of state support. But, on the other hand, we were not free to go abroad on tour. Life is hectic now but we find salvation in out love for music and work. Musicians of three generations are working in the orchestra now: from 18 to 80 years of age. The young musicians learn a lot from their older colleagues. This is our strong point too.

I have often been asked the question: what is the secret of conducting? First and foremost, it is knowledge. You must know the subject better than musicians who work in the orchestra and you should unravel to them what they do not notice in life and in music. The language is not so important here because music itself is the unique and universal language. And our hands and eyes are the main things in communication.

Besides you should always feel the contemporary character of any piece of music, discover something new in it, no matter when it was written. That’s why Beethoven is the most modern composer for me.

The profession of a conductor has been very difficult at all times. All of a sudden, everyone finds it “simple” and thinks that it easy to learn. The authority of a conductor is substituted by the authority of a musician. And I find it wrong. The art of conducting does not come easy to everyone, even to the most talented musician.

And the sound, of course. Nowadays many musicians pay special attention to the hands, the technique but they overlook the sound. And it is precisely the sound and the way a conductor achieves it that constitutes the foundation of everything and might as well be the main mystery of conducting”.

On November 21, 2001 V.Fedoseyev was awarded the Gold Medal of The International Gustav Mahler Society for outstanding performance and popularization of works of the great composer.

The medal was instituted in 1958 by Ervin Ratz and was awarded to many outstanding musicians, among them: Rafael Kubelik, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Leonard Bernstein, Bernard Haitink, Carlo Maria Giulini, Claudio Abbado.

Vladimir Fedoseyev conducted the performance of Mahler’s symphonies with the Viennese Symphonic and the Tchaikovsky Symphony orchestra.

Pavel Raigorodsky
“Music review”, 11.12.2007


<< Back