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Since leaving St Petersburg in the mid 1970s, Semyon Bychkov has been a guest on the podiums of the world’s finest musical institutions. With his time carefully balanced between operatic and symphonic repertoire, he enjoys long-standing and fruitful relationships with the orchestras and major opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Chicago and New York. A pupil of the legendary pedagogue, Ilya Musin, Bychkov’s name came to international attention while Music Director of Michigan’s Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the United States. Following a series of high-profile cancellations that resulted in invitations to conduct both the New York and Berlin Philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was signed to an exclusive recording contract with Philips Classics. Moving to Paris, Bychkov was appointed Music Director of Orchestre de Paris (1989), Principal Guest Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic (1990), Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale, Florence (1992), Chief Conductor of WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln (1997) and Chief Conductor of Dresden Semperoper (1998). He also holds the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

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Since leaving St Petersburg in the mid 1970s, Semyon Bychkov has been sought after by the world’s finest musical institutions. With his time carefully balanced between operatic and symphonic repertoire, he enjoys long-standing and fruitful relationships with the orchestras and major opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Chicago and New York. 

A pupil of the legendary pedagogue, Ilya Musin, Bychkov’s name came to international attention while Music Director of Michigan’s Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the United States. Following a series of high-profile cancellations that resulted in invitations to conduct both the New York and Berlin Philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was signed to an exclusive recording contract with Philips Classics. Moving to Paris, Bychkov was appointed Music Director of Orchestre de Paris (1989), Principal Guest Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic (1990), Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale, Florence (1992), Chief Conductor of WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln (1997) and Chief Conductor of Dresden Semperoper (1998). He holds the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Gunther Wand Chair at the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Since completing his 13-year tenure with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Semyon Bychkov has focused on maintaining and deepening the rewarding guest relationships he enjoys with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.  In recent seasons he has appeared in Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Vienna, Berlin, Munich and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra with whom he appears annually at the BBC Proms. In the United States, Semyon Bychkov is a frequent guest with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Chicago and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. Future seasons include return engagements with each of these orchestras, in addition to performances with the Orchestre National de France, NDR-sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Turin and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome, and his debuts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Bychkov made his Royal Opera House debut in 2003 with a new production of Elektra and, the same year, returned to conduct Boris Godunov. He has since conducted The Queen of Spades (2006), Lohengrin (2009), Don Carlo (2009), Tannhäuser (2010) and La Bohème (2012) and  Die Frau ohne Schatten (2014). At the Metropolitan Opera he has conducted Boris Godunov (2004) and Otello both in 2007 and, in 2012 when it was broadcast Live in HD to 54 countries.  He has conducted Elektra (2000), Tristan und Isolde (2001), Daphne (2003) and Lohengrin (2005) at the Vienna State Opera, and Der Rosenkavalier (2005) at the Salzburg Festival and, made his Paris Opera debut with Un Ballo in Maschera (2007), returning for Tristan und Isolde (2009).  Semyon Bychkov opened the 2011/12 season at Teatro Real Madrid with highly acclaimed performances of Elektra, and in Italy conducted Tosca (1996) and Elektra (2005) at La Scala, Milan, a new production of Don Carlo (2006) and a concert performances of Das Rheingold (2000) and Tannhauser (2010), as well as numerous productions at Maggio Musicale Florence, including award-winning productions of Jenufa (1993), Schubert's Fierrabras (1995) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1997).

Semyon Bychkov’s conducting is recognised for the breadth of his vision, the clarity of interpretation and the rich beauty of his sound, captured in a series of award-winning CDs and DVDs that are part of the legacy of his tenure with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln. Winner of BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year 2010, Bychkov’s recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin was committed to disc following staged performances at the Vienna Staatsoper and concert performances in Cologne, and his recording of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony coupled with Till Eulenspiegel (Profil) follows a series of benchmark Strauss recordings that include Ein Heldenleben and Metamorphosen (Avie), Daphne with Renée Fleming (Decca) and Elektra with Deborah Polaski (Profil).  Also with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln are recordings of Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, the complete cycle of Brahms’ Symphonies, and Verdi’s Requiem. Both the Brahms symphonies and the Rachmaninov (Symphony No. 2, Symphonic Dances and The Bells) are also available on DVD (Arthaus).   

For more information about Semyon Bychkov, go to www.semyonbychkov.com


Season 2013/2014

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Reviews

"In Bychkov’s hands, the orchestra was a precision instrument. Even in so dense a score, every instrument could be heard clearly, perfectly in balance with the others but with main themes being brought to the fore at the right times. The pacing was impeccable […] And Bychkov does rhapsody like nothing I’ve ever heard, with swelling phrases bursting into waves of emotion."

David Karlin, Bachtrack

"Bychkov is convinced and in turns convinces you of every bar of this score. He carves, he cares, without ever brutally imposing extraneous ideas or aesthetics on to the music. There is dazzle and noise, as there should be in Die Frau, but it was the tenderness, calm and space that he found that really astounded. Bychkov employed the detail of the passing moment to inform the whole structure in which the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House responded beautifully to every beat of his baton."

Gavin Plumley, Entartete Musik

"Bychkov calls the "Leningrad" Symphony 'a cry from the heart against death'... His interpretation goes wider than anger and despair, though both emotions coursed through every bar. There was, throughout, a sense of historical and cultural continuity under threat. It's the best thing I've heard Bychkov do, and one of the greatest performances of the work in recent years."

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

"When it’s done right, Britten’s “War Requiem” is a work of wrenching emotional power and philosophical profundity. Wednesday’s performance by the San Francisco Symphony was more than right; it was sensational... It was Bychkov’s wise, firm leadership that gave the performance its particular flavour."

SFGate

"On Thursday night Semyon Bychkov stood in for his indisposed colleague, Christoph von Dohnanyi, and produced pure magic with the Orchestra. The chemistry between Bychkov and the Gewandhausorchester appeared to be right - it is not every day that one gets to hear what Bychkov's distinct and effortless conducting drew from the orchestra. The structure of Mahler's First Symphony poses quite a challenge, and Bychkov turned everything inside out. He must have dissected the score to be able to achieve these results, but what happened on stage can only be as a result of his musicianship and through his expressiveness. Bychkov shaped the entanglement of themes both intelligently and suggestively; and the terrific Gewandhausorchester - even those who thought they knew the piece very well - did its utmost to discover nuances which they hadn't previously noticed. All in all, it was a profound musical occasion - as was the Concertgebouw's performance of the same piece, in the same place, under Leonard Bernstein."

Leipziger Volkszeitung

"Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 came as the crowning glory of the concert. What abuse has the Vienna Philharmonic allowed to happen in this repertoire in the past years, to allow any sense of consciousness of sound to be sacrificed on the holy altar of fortissimo? Suddenly the symphony sounded cultivated and mild, with sensitively modulated melodies, and the sound scape remained understandable; so that even where threefold forte was required - and delivered - the highest expressiveness was allowed to rule, rather than brute force."

Winifred Sinkovitz, Die Presse

"Bychkov put the great LSO machine into action and exerted total and authoritative control from start to finish... Bychkov was adept at separating the various stylistic registers in the music... It came together goosebumpingly well."

Theartsdesk.com

"One felt conductor Semyon Bychkov’s careful attention to detail at every point, and it gave this over-familiar work a dewy freshness. Even more impressive was his control of pacing. He gave the first movement exactly the right sense of seeming open-ended, despite its emphatic ending, and he made the strange switchbacks of tempo in the Scherzo actually make sense."

Daily Telegraph

"In Semyon Bychkov the Royal Opera House has found an exceptional interpreter of Puccini's score. He sculpts the music to perfection, letting the music breathe with a volume and exuberance that highlight all of the necessary passion, intensity and drama, while keeping the sound balanced and never sacrificing an ounce of musical detail."

Sam Smith, MusicOMH

"The appearances in London of Semyon Bychkov have become red-letter events, and his, and his latest concert with the London Symphony Orchestra was no exception... Bychkov is one of a select few conductors who make coherent sense of the massive first movement, which in some performances emerges as a sagging sequence of events. His powerful grasp here extended from the big architectural shapes to the smallest textual detail, all of which he shaped with a fluid baton. And Bychkov got the LSO to do exactly what Mahler called for, right from the very opening... In a symphony of stepwise spiritual ascent, the finale took on a profound glow in Bychkov’s hands."

John Allison, The Telegraph

"Bychkov’s natural unfolding of the symphony was particularly satisfying, all down, it would seem, to his elegant, precise baton and eloquent left hand, a completely non-mysterious looking technique releasing any amount of marvel and mystery... Even from the LSO, this was great playing, idiomatic, generous and right inside the notes. The sense of certainty and resolution that gathered strength and identity through the three cataclysmic outbursts to the radiant closing bars must have been as lovely and all-embracing as Mahler hoped for in a movement originally titled ‘What love tells me’."

Peter Reed, Classicalsource.com

"Bychkov makes you feel as though you've gone deeply into the workings of the piece along with him and heard it as if for the first time."

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

"It is a joy to watch this maestro at work. Not just because Semyon Bychkov’s beat is unmistakably precise, but also because his manner of conducting follows a wonderfully fluent flow of movement. And it was just this aesthetic that proved a felicitous inspiration to the NDR Symphony Orchestra, whose exquisite sound combines clarity with rotundity and warmth... The orchestra gave a performance of one of its showpieces [Brahms No. 1] which was well-proportioned and powerful, with a finale that bloomed gorgeously but was never over-heated. There was nothing unusual in Bychkov’s interpretation, just wonderful conducting. Sheer joy."

Peter Krause, Die Welt

"There was something magical in the performance of Brahms' Second Symphony that Semyon Bychkov conducted with the RAI Orchestra to mark the start of a new Brahms cycle. The rhapsodically natural yet rigorous pace, the colouristic esthetic, both intense and intimate but without becoming either stiff or excessively confidential, gave Bychkov's interpretation a melancholy grace, which was both spontaneous and profound... Bychkov has always had the right way to avoid harshness and post-romantic unctuousness in Brahms music."

La Repubblica

"Many conductors use [Ein Heldenleben] as an excuse to pump up the orchestra as well as their own egos. Not Bychkov. The Russian-born maestro downplayed the bombast, tightened the sprawl and banished the vulgarity. In so doing, he heightened the music's sumptuous beauty and warmth of feeling, and had one marvelling anew at the sonic and contrapuntal mastery with which Strauss deploys his huge orchestral forces... So, too, Bychkov shaped the expansive love scene with great tenderness, not just in the breadth of sound he drew from the orchestra but in the glowing tonal quality he brought to it."

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"Semyon Bychkov conducted [the Teatro Real's production of Elektra] - and it was his work that accounted for the biggest success of the evening. His reading was in short spectacular, and saturated with emotion. Under his baton the orchestra, enlarged to 110 players, offered the best performance I can remember from them."

José Maria Irurzun, Musicweb International

"There's something hypnotic about Bychkov these days and this Prom was very special. It's the way that he retained an iron control over the dynamics while maintaining propulsion… The intensity of the thing, by the end, was overwhelming."

James Inverne, Gramophone

"The success of the evening mostly resides with Semyon Bychkov who once again showed that he is the best conductor of Wagner that Covent Garden has had for decades... Bychkov’s interpretation has a persuasive grandeur, an almost seamless flow, and exquisite attention to musical detail. He brings out sounds from the Covent Garden orchestra that I wonder if they knew they were capable of… had he not done much the same when he conducted them in Lohengrin and Don Carlos recently."

Jim Pritchard, MusicWeb International

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Discography