Vasily Petrenko

Chief Conductor, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Music Director Designate, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Chief Conductor, European Union Youth Orchestra
Principal Guest Conductor, State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (“Evgeny Svetlanov”)

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Biography

In 2021, Vasily Petrenko will take up the position of Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Currently, he holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (since 2009 as a continuation of his period as Principal Conductor which commenced in 2006), Chief Conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra (since 2015) and Principal Guest Conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (since 2016). He served as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (2013-2020), Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (2009–2013), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Mikhailovsky Theatre, where he began his career as Resident Conductor (1994–1997).

Vasily Petrenko was born in 1976 and started his music education at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – Russia’s oldest music school. He then studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire where he participated in masterclasses with such luminary figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons and Yuri Temirkanov.

He has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), St Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, NHK Symphony and Sydney Symphony orchestras. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, Grafenegg Festival and made frequent appearances at the BBC Proms. Recent years have seen a series of highly successful North American debuts, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montréal and St Louis Symphony orchestras.

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Reviews

“Petrenko stamped his authority all over the work: a fine sense of lyrical line matched the clarity of structure, but most deeply engaging was his control of the changing mood and temperature. Manic, ecstatic, passionate, tender, urgent: Petrenko brought a core integrity and logic to Mahler’s outpouring of music.”

Rian Evans

The Guardian

“Other Russian conductors have given us valuable perspectives on Elgar: Yevgeny Svetlanov and Gennady Rozhdestvensky in particular. But this is more than that. [A] sense of the long, fluid, intensely (but never exaggeratedly) expressive line, […] rich in mood and character, strong in overall conception… […] The lasting impression is of a conductor with an intelligent, informed but deep love of this music.”

BBC Music Magazine

More Reviews

“To judge by the fire and precision that Petrenko brought to the Ninth Symphony, this was a season-starting cycle to treasure. Petrenko may appear a coolly restrained presence on the podium, but his orchestra played throughout with a fierce concentration that spoke of total rapport.”

The Guardian, September 2016

“Petrenko stamped his authority all over the work: a fine sense of lyrical line matched the clarity of structure, but most deeply engaging was his control of the changing mood and temperature. Manic, ecstatic, passionate, tender, urgent: Petrenko brought a core integrity and logic to Mahler’s outpouring of music.”

Rian Evans, The Guardian, March 15th 2016

“Other Russian conductors have given us valuable perspectives on Elgar: Yevgeny Svetlanov and Gennady Rozhdestvensky in particular. But this is more than that. [A] sense of the long, fluid, intensely (but never exaggeratedly) expressive line, […] rich in mood and character, strong in overall conception… […] The lasting impression is of a conductor with an intelligent, informed but deep love of this music.”

BBC Music Magazine, April 2015

““Petrenko drew the most scorching playing from the LPO, […] handled the score’s sprawling structure supremely convincingly, effecting the sudden shifts from the grandiose to fairground high jinks to crushing violence seamlessly. [He] ramped up the tension for the long finale, again handling the vast stretches of brass bombast very well [and] balanced the comic and the vicious in Shostakovich’s sudden shifts before the symphony concluded with its spectral celesta chiming over decaying harp and strings. It was one of those priceless moments where you can sense an entire hall holding its breath. […] a shattering performance.””

Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack, February 2015

“Guest conductor Vasily Petrenko and pianist Paul Lewis […] make a superlative team, well matched in terms of vigor, sensibility and a serious dedication to the highest standards of musicianship. Without indulging in eccentricity or grandstanding, pianist and conductor managed to make a fresh experience of the well-worn score [Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto]. […] The strong musical and personal rapport Petrenko appears to enjoy with the orchestra musicians inspired a performance of Rachmaninov’s [Symphonic Dances] that was rich in color, brilliance and idiomatic feeling.[…] it all felt convincing. The CSO came through with an ardor and precision to match Petrenko’s own.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, January 2015

“No previous recording of the 14th Symphony lays greater claim to beauty. Five stars, no question. – Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 Recording / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic / Naxos”

Norman Lebrecht, Sinfini Music, April 21st 2014

“The miracle of this performance is the thoughtfulness and sense of inner repose that Petrenko hears in the quieter music [of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7], […] The young maestro wields magisterial control over the overarching shape of this once despised, now rehabilitated and thrillingly dramatic symphony, with sensational results. Petrenko presides over a golden age of music-making in Liverpool. “

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, May 5th 2013

“Petrenko has re-thought the symphony from the ground up; and there is not a second-hand thought in his concept and realisation. The precise word for this flawless and seamlessly sustained interpretation is "epic": in its tempos (unhurried) and particularly in its depth and extremely long-range view. It is both gripping and shattering, mellifluous and volcanic, unfolding like a landscape of the soul. “

Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland | New RLPO Naxos Recording of Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 'Leningrad'

“[Petrenko] inspired the orchestra to go well beyond its normal megawatt virtuosity, and this made for a blistering account of the Shostakovich. […] He built the brooding melancholy of the first movement slowly and purposefully, scaling each climax so it registered even more intensely than the one before. […] Seldom has the trajectory to the hollow triumph of the final pages been more exactingly plotted, or more excitingly conveyed. The orchestra gave Petrenko everything he asked for, and more. “

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“[This] was a remarkable account of a great British symphony – Elgar’s First. We know how gifted Vasily Petrenko is from his sterling work in Liverpool but I could not have predicted how sensitively and instinctively he would embrace the character of this tremendous work, how excitingly he would grasp the sweep and volatility of it. For want of a more elegant phrase, Petrenko knew precisely how the music went. And that’s something you don’t learn but feel. […] Undoubtedly one of the great symphonic performances of 2012.”

Edward Seckerson, October 2012

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