In the first days of March 2021 saw the light of day a recording with the program composition, which has undoubtedly earned the predicate “Extraordinary”: The soloists Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet), Dorothee Mields (soprano), Eriko Takezawa (piano), together with the GCO Ingolstadt under the baton of its chief conductor and artistic director Ruben Gazarian, interpret music by Benjamin Yusupov, Ivan Fischer, Giya Kancheli, Alan Hovhannes and Luca Lombardi. Four premiere recordings are on this disc, which – like all other productions of the label “Ars-Produktion” – offers not only the normal CD version, but also the especially high-quality SACD version including the multi-channel mix.
The recordings for this CD were made in November 2020, in the middle of the worldwide Covid 19 pandemic and under difficult conditions. Ever-changing sanitary regulations pose major obstacles to the art and culture industry worldwide. The hope of all artists involved in this CD is hereby to make their contribution so that art and culture will emerge from this crisis not weakened, but strengthened.
“For art is a daughter of freedom, and from the necessity of spirits, not from the necessity of matter, it wants to receive its prescription.” Friedrich Schiller
Ruben Gazarian, GMD in front of the Theater Altenburg Gera (Photo: Ronny Ristok / Theater Altenburg Gera)
On August 26, 2020, during a press conference in the Theater Gera, the signing of the contract took place, making Ruben Gazarian the new General Music Director at the Theater Altenburg Gera for at least four years, starting on September 1, 2020.
Here is the official press release of the theater:
“Despite corona-related restrictions, the year-and-a-half-long search for a successor to Laurent Wagner in the position of General Music Director at Theater Altenburg Gera was successfully concluded. 109 candidates had applied, 24 of them were invited, presented themselves on site and worked with the ensembles.
Ruben Gazarian was able to convince the Philharmonic Orchestra, the music theater ensemble and the theater management the most with his fresh musicality, his expertise and his differentiated sound ideas. During the press conference on August 26th 2020, he signed a contract as the new General Music Director at Theater Altenburg Gera, starting this season, for at least four years.
Ruben Gazarian is no stranger to the East Thuringian audience. He has already appeared as a violin virtuoso and also as a guest conductor with the Altenburg Gera Philharmonic Orchestra; in December 2010 he conducted a Philharmonic Concert with works by Alexander Borodin, Aram Khachaturian and Dmitri Shostakovich.
His inaugural concert in the new position will be the 2nd Philharmonic Concert on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m. in the Gera Concert Hall. This concert will take place again on Wednesday, October 21 at 7:30 pm and on Thursday, October 22 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm in the Gera Concert Hall. It will be performed in the Theater Tent Altenburg on Friday, October 23 at 7:30 pm. Furthermore, he will conduct the 3rd Philharmonic Concert in November and is responsible for the musical direction of the production “Das Lied von der Erde” by Gustav Mahler in the chamber music version by Arnold Schönberg (premiere: November 27, 2020).”
In early October 2020, the renowned Label CAPRICCIO in cooperation with Deutschlandfunk Kultur published a CD with works by Mieczysław Weinberg: The piano soloist Elisaveta Blumina, the GCO Ingolstadt and its principal conductor, Ruben Gazarian are the interpreters of Weinberg’s Piano Quintet op. 18 (arranged for Piano and String Orchestra by Mathias Baier). This release is based on the GKO subscription concert of June 6th 2019 at the Festsaal of the Ingolstadt theater and was also broadcasted back in June 2019 just days after the concert.
Five years after Shostakovich premiered his quintet to turbulent success in 1940, his new 24-years young friend Weinberg premiered one of his own. For the premiere on March 18th, the 27-year old Weinberg got the String Quartet of the Bolshoi and a 30-year old pianist, already famous then, by the name of Emil Gilels. The Quintet op.18 is one of the unequivocally great chamber pieces of that time and it is a superb entry-point into the world of Weinberg. As with any truly great masterpiece, a work like the Piano Quintet benefits and indeed demands many and diverging interpretations. This also includes different versions, such as this arrangement of the quintet for chamber ensemble. The idea is hardly far-fetched: Weinberg arranged several of his own works for chamber orchestra; his friend Shostakovich’s string quartets have popularly lent themselves to such arrangements. It suits the treatment naturally – and the orchestral version, therefore, gives us just one more way to discover and enjoy one of Weinberg’s ingenious gifts to his belated but finally eager public.
After the interruption of several months due to the Corona pandemic, the GCO Ingolstadt and its chief conductor Ruben Gazarian are back on stage: End of July-beginning of August 2020, the orchestra played three different programs at a total of six performances. Two of these programs were part of this year’s subscription series and – in order to meet all legal requirements – were performed with an abbreviated duration and without an intermission. Since the maximum permissible number of visitors is currently strictly regulated, repeats of the concerts were unavoidable. On all evenings, the audience responded with great enthusiasm and celebrated the soloists, the orchestra and its chief conductor frenetically. The repeat of one of the subscription programs in the special atmosphere of the beautifully situated Danube Stage (with bayan virtuoso Aydar Gaynullin & his band) on August 1st, ended with standing ovations lasting minutes.
Here are several photo impressions:
A welcome guest with several Israeli orchestras, Ruben Gazarian was enthusiastically acclaimed by not one but two of the country’s orchestras in November 2019: Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Haifa Symphony Orchestra. Gazarian made repeat guest appearances in both Jerusalem – with one of Israel’s leading orchestras – and Haifa. This year’s program with the JSO included works by D. Shostakovich and P. I. Tchaikovsky, while the HSO performed Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony over two evenings. Reinvitations for the coming seasons have already been extended.
Thirty years have passed since the Georgian Chamber Orchestra was reestablished in Ingolstadt – reason enough to make this anniversary the focus of the 2020 season.
As a result of the successful integration of the GKO in Ingolstadt, the ensemble sees itself as an ambassador for the dialogue between people and cultures. The “Artist in Residence” and at the same time “Composer in Residence” 2020, Fazil Say, is particularly representative of this profile. The prominent pianist and composer sees himself as a mediator. With his music, Say wants to build bridges, not least between Orient and Occident, but above all East and West, both as a performer on the piano and as a composer. At the GCO this year, “the whole Fazil Say” will be presented, the instrumentalist and the composer – together with an exhibition of his works, which at the same time reflects connections with the musical heritage. And of course, in 2020, the focus will also be on the jubilarian Ludwig von Beethoven. Since Beethoven would be inconceivable without Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, they deliberately form a special focus in the season’s program.
Here only some the highlights of the GCO subscription series: the prelude with the Soprano Sarah Gilford under the direction of Ruben Gazarian (January 16th) connects works of Joseph Haydn and Fazil Say. In the 6th and 7th subscription concerts, Fazil Say will perform Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C minor (June 18th) as well as Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 12 in A major, K. 414. In addition, the pianist and composer will perform his own work, “Silk Road” (September 22nd). The pianist Sebastian Knauer – “Artist in Residence” of the GCO 2018 – devotes himself to piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven in the 5th subscription concert (May 14th). The 8th subscription concert offers a showcase of works by pianist and composer Jenö Takács, who is considered the “Arab Bartók” (Oct. 15). Soloists of the concert are Nina Karmon (violin) and an old acquaintance of the orchestra and its chief conductor, Oliver Triendl (piano). This evening will again be recorded by Deutschlandradio and broadcast a few days later. Ruben Gazarian is particularly proud of this intensive collaboration with Deutschlandfunk Kultur, which now takes place every year. The GCO’s last subscription concert in 2020 with pianist Varduhi Yeritsyan (December 3rd) will once again focus on Mozart.
Other soloists in the 2020 season include violinists Sebastian Bohren (February 13th) and Linus Roth (April 23rd), pianist Eriko Takezawa and trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich (November 19th).
In 2020, for the first time, two open-air concerts will set special accents as part of the subscription: The “Sunset Orchestra Night” (20.06.), which took place for the first time as a special concert in the summer of 2017, will be a permanent part of the subscription from this year on. Between cocktails and deck chairs, the ensemble under the direction of Ruben Gazarian makes a guest appearance at the Danube Stage Ingolstadt. Together with the outstanding accordionist Aydar Gaynullin and his band, musical highlights of film history will be brought to life. Also in the second open air concert (July 23rd) the GCO shows no fear of contact beyond the classical music. Together with clarinettist Michel Lethiec, the GCO interprets works by Nino Rota, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin in the Turm Baur at sunset. The highlights of the season undoubtedly include not only the renewed appearance of GCO under the direction of principal conductor Ruben Gazarian at the Elbphilharmonie, but also the New Year’s Concert (January 2nd) together with the clarinet duo Gurfinkel, as well as the annual Audi Summer Concert on July 1st.
Only shortly after the CD-release with works by Grigori Frid in August 2019 on the CAPRICCIO label, the next recording of the Georgian Chamber Orchestra under the direction of its principal conductor Ruben Gazarian has been released in October 2019. This already fourth collaboration with the traditional label “Ars Produktion” – once again in a particularly high-quality audiophile CD/SACD version – is about music by Joseph Haydn and Johann Simon Mayr: in addition to Symphony No. 25 by the great Viennese classicist, it is the Piano Concertos No. 1 & 2 by J. S. Mayr with soloist Edna Stern that attract special attention, being absolute rarities of the repertoire. Therefore, this new release represents a highly welcome enrichment of the oeuvre of Johann Simon Mayr available on the recording market. The disc was produced in cooperation with the “International Simon Mayr Society” and was recorded during a subscription concert of the GCO in April 2019 in the Festival Hall of the Ingolstadt Theater.
Review by HRAudio.net
Review by pizzicato
In November 2019, Ruben Gazarian makes guest appearances with two Israeli orchestras: Following his acclaimed debut with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra last year, he conducts Gustav Mahler’s epic 7th Symphony on two consecutive evenings earlier this month. Just weeks later, Gazarian returns to Israel, this time to accept a re-invitation from the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra: The program here includes works by Yonatan Keret (world premiere), Dimitri Shostakovich and Peter Tchaikovsky.
In its latest CD recording of works by Russian composer Grigori Frid, the Georgian Chamber Orchestra Ingolstadt under the direction of Ruben Gazarian continues its commitment to the rediscovery of Soviet and Eastern European composers. With violinist and violist Isabelle Van Keulen and pianist Oliver Triendl, two accomplished musical partners are supporting the GKO and its principal conductor. This new recording was released on August 9, 2019 by the traditional label CAPRICCIO in co-production with Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
The Double Concerto for Viola, Piano and String Orchestra, op. 73 from 1981 is juxtaposed with two works from the 1960s: the Symphony No. 3 for String Orchestra and Timpani, op. 50 from 1964 and Two Inventions for String Orchestra, op. 46a from 1962. Despite the two decades that lie between the works, despite the two poles of his oeuvre – the proximity to Shostakovich as well as the environment of the younger generation of composers around Gubaidulina and Schnittke – a uniform personal style is noticeable.
Grigori Frid was a composer, writer and painter. Exposed to massive repressive measures under Stalinism and following his father into exile in Siberia in 1927, he studied first in Irkutsk, then from 1935 at the Moscow Conservatory. One of his formative teachers there was Vissarion Shebalin, an important representative of early Soviet modernism. In addition to his own work, Grigori Frid was committed to helping persecuted colleagues throughout his life. For example, he made possible the premiere performances of ostracized composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke in the “Music Club,” which he founded in 1965. In the West, he became known primarily for his mono-operas Diary of Anne Frank and Letters of van Gogh.
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Praised by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” for his “thrillingly individual, energetic, enchantingly singing in the high registers and always clearly contoured, masculine tone in the lower registers,” Valentin Radutiu is one of the up-and-coming cellists of his generation, combining intellectual penetration with expressive sound culture. Together with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn under the direction of Ruben Gazarian, Radutiu creates sonorous interpretations of the cello works of Haydn, Casadesus and Janson.
The connection between Ruben Gazarian and the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra has been further deepened through repeated collaborations: After 2015 and 2017, the conductor made another guest appearance with this tradition-rich orchestra in May 2019. This time the program included works by P. I. Tchaikovsky (Suite from “Sleeping Beauty), D. Shostakovich (Violin Concerto No. 1) and E. Elgar (Enigma Variations). The intense, gratifying and successful musical reunion immediately led to a new invitation for Gazarian in the 2020/2021 season.
The ten concert halls where the WCO performed during its China-Tour 2019 (Photos: Hans Georg Fischer).
As a genuine touring ensemble, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra also leaves its sound traces with an international audience. In February-March 2019, the orchestra was once again on tour under the direction of its former principal conductor Ruben Gazarian, with ten concerts in various regions of China. After stops in Beijing, Huanggang, Changsha, Hefei, Ma’anshan, Nanjing, Zhuhai, Dongguan and Huizhou, the final concert took place in Shanghai. The program of the tour included works by Edvard Grieg, Nino Rota and Gustav Holst.
“Even purists would give in,” wrote the Berliner Zeitung in 2017 about Asysa Fateyeva’s then release “Bachiana,” on which she arranged Bach compositions for the saxophone (together with the WCO Heilbronn and Ruben Gazarian) – an instrument that did not even exist during Bach’s lifetime. On her latest CD, the soloist takes unusual paths once more. This time, again joined by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Ruben Gazarian, she explores the world of carnival, its dramas, characters and ever-surprising human entanglements. According to Fateyeva, the saxophone is perfectly suited for this: “The title ‘Carneval’ describes the spirit of the saxophone. It likes to dress up, try things out, explore different styles and slip into the roles of other instruments.”