Teodor Currentzis © Anton Zavjyalov (Ausschnitt)
He is an incendiary firehead and a fanatic for detail, but he exudes a very special elegance: Teodor Currentzis is as one of the most idiosyncratic and charismatic conductors of the younger generation.
«Rocking Rameau!» was how his rousing album of music by the French baroque composer was described. His critically acclaimed recordings of Mozart's «Le nozze di Figaro» and «Così fan tutte» are bursting with explosive vitality and energy, right down even to the tiniest ornamentation on the continuo. And his most recent recording – of Stravinsky's «Le sacre du printemps» – combines the same surgical precision and ethnic jive: Teodor Currentzis is without doubt a podium star for the 21st century, an artist who is striking not only in the way he dresses and styles his hair, but in the exceptional, literally unheard nature of his interpretations. Lazy compromise is not for him.
Teodor Currentzis, now 44, studied in his home city of Athens and then in St. Petersburg. He was the very successful head of Siberia's largest opera house in Novosibirsk for many years, and in 2011 moved to Perm, a city of around one million inhabitants in the Ural, which for him is perhaps what Bayreuth was for Wagner and Salzburg for Karajan, and perhaps even more: a place where he would try to reach for the stars, where the musicians lived and worked together almost like in a commune, where Currentzis could set up an elite training school, a rehearsal laboratory where he tirelessly sought to perfect his interpretations in endless sessions that lasted deep into the night. Currentzis made only rare appearances in the west, until his recordings with his elite period-instrument orchestra, MusicAeterna, created goosepimples of delight in audiences and critics alike.
But this daring conductor has already proven in the Wiener Konzerthaus that he is not only a genius in the recording studio, but can also enrapture and baffle live audiences as well. According to the daily Standard, Currentzis' debut with Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony «glowed and simmered». Furthermore, Teodor Currentzis has the power to polarise, a rare commodity in music nowadays, as he proved recently in a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the equally striking violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and MusicAeterna. Their performance took risks with the score and gleefully went against the grain when members of the orchestra joined in the high-spirited cadenzas.
Kopatchinskaja appears as soloist once again in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, and Currentzis is also joined by pianist Alexander Melnikov in the 2016/17 season when he conducts concerts by MusicAeterna, Camerata Salzburg and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. The repertoire is unusually wide, ranging from Rameau and Pergolesi, Haydn and Beethoven, to Mendelssohn and Wagner and even Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, that monstrous armoured tank of a work subtitled the «Leningrad Symphony» which depicts the terror and horror of modern, machine-driven war and the clash of dictators.