guest conducting engagements
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Last year Music Director Roland Geyer surprised Vienna with the announcement that Semyon Bychkov, currently Chief Conductor of Cologne's WDR Symphony Orchestra, would conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in an account of Bach's B-Minor Mass. Geyer said that Osterklang should and would risk interpretations other than those which convention expected for any given genre. The calculation paid off. But not because Bychkov made some definitive neo-Romantic statement about this wonder-work in defiance of all speeds, styles and tastes. Quite the opposite was the case: this B-Minor Mass revealed a conductor, and with him an orchestra, who attempted to answer questions on the nature of the work through means which we recognise from Bach's time. Small ensemble, extremely definite articulation, breathed phrasing: Bychkov and the Philharmonic subjected Bach's music to its own laws. The Philharmonic players' readiness to go to the extremes of steely, ringing tone or vibrato-less playing was impressive especially as they did not also have to renounce the specific virtues of their utterly molten and featherlight ensemble.
Salzburger Nachrichten, April 03
The orchestra, was once again a finely calibrated machine, with the hallmark Philharmoniker sound – drop dead gorgeous brass, mellow woodwinds, unearthly strings – on proud display. Semyon Bychkov gave a brisk reading, free of Romantic sludge. Conducting without a baton and mouthing the words along with his singers, he bobbed and weaved in all directions, using every joint of every finger to maintain tight control. Dynamics were finely nuanced (a barely perceptible crescendo over the ten minute course of the opening Kyrie was particularly striking), and Bach's textures were never adulterated.
Andante.com, April 03
Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Bach's Mass Russian Style
...He enchants (the audience) with a submerged, fluid, far-reaching style in which the lucidity of the contrapuntal plot gives strength and clarity to the words...
Avvenire, January 03
Bach's Mass a combination of pain and sublime serenity
...The fifty-year old Russian maestro's interpretation appeared epic, noble on the solemn pages, capable of highlighting human aspects in a marriage of pain with the idea of continuous and unavoidable serenity: an enthralling vital strength, a spiritual advance which rises to the sublime....
Corriere della Sera, January 03
Bychkov's Mass marries austerity with emotion
The peremptory opening of just four beats, with the choir and orchestra leading of together into the splendid and solemn initial Kyrie, was enough to grasp and admire Semyon Bychkov's interpretive reading at Tuesday's passionate performance of Bach's Mass in B minor in Santa Cecilia. Bychkov was able to bring back its expressive coordinates thanks to an approach which married absolute control with profound freedom in the phrasing...
Messaggero Cronanca di Roma, January 03
Berlin Statskapelle / SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No 11
After Wednesday's performance in the Konzerthaus by the Berlin Staatskapelle under Semyon Bychkov the public could once again hardly contain its enthusiasm.
One must give Bychkov and the orchestra the credit for the highly developed tone quality which never confused the powerful with the uncouth. Nowhere did the conductor overdo the full power potential of the orchestra. He had already shown its range in January this year when he conducted Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8. With the Staatskapelle Bychkov has made Shostakovich's methods of writing history experience-able without setting out the entire muscle-palette of the orchestra. That this balancing act succeeds is remarkable.
Berliner Zeitung, October 02