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5th June 2017

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Klaus Kalchschmid

On Saturday, the Munich Philharmonic’s  performance of the  “Adagietto” under Semyon Bychkov was neither cloyingly sentimental nor without emotion, neither too fast nor too slow. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony starts with a funeral March, before striking a more light-hearted tone.  Bychkov and the Philharmonic Orchestra maintained the musical tension by succeeding  in, what in this Symphony, resembles the squaring of the circle.  And so the Finale started with a quick splash, before embarking on a long and noisy journey.

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29th May 2017

Münchner Merkur

Gabriele Luster

Romantic music from Russia and France was on the programme for Friday evening’s concert when Semyon Bychkov joined the Munich Philharmonic in a tightly packed Gasteig.  And, despite the cancellation of pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, neither orchestra nor conductor had to worry about the high quality of his colleague, Kirill Gerstein. The American Gerstein, who was born in Russia, opted to play the second version of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 rather than the more usually performed third edition, although you would hardly have known without looking at the score.

The soloist excelled in both the rich, full-bodied, virtuosic outer movements, as well as in the delicate, perfumed passages of the pastoral Andantino with its floating waltz delicately colored by the woodwinds.

In the rhythmically charged finale, Bychkov led both soloist and spirited orchestra in impressive decibel-charged surges, which Gerstein contrasted with lyrical reminiscences and sparkling runs.

The Philharmonic also made a strong impression in Hector Berlioz’ “Symphonie fantastique”.  Drawing a spellbinding arc from the lavish orchestration, Bychkov illuminated the individual themes, embellishing them with instrumental colours, giving them a softness that allowed the audience to hear for themselves the Reveries and Passions, The Ball, The Scene in the Fields, the March to the Scaffold, and the Dream of the Night of the Sabbath. Berlioz’s “Idée fixe” and the inspiration for this wonderful work was a beautiful woman, which Bychkov highlighted time and again with individual instruments.  The exquisite woodwinds were heard as well as the ardent strings, the gleaming brass, the harps and the very much used percussion. Great ovation.

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29th May 2017

The 2017 Ravenna Festival’s symphonic programme could not have started in a better way. Great music. With two very well-known compositions by Tchaikovsky and Berlioz. The great interpreters were the Munich Philharmonic with the Russian Maestro Semyon Bychkov and an excellent Kirill Gerstein at the piano. And finally, a great public, who last night clapped and showed their enthusiasm for a wonderful evening of music.

The opening concert was entrusted to one of the most prominent orchestral conductors on the international scene: Semyon Bychkov, the Russian maestro who was last at the Festival in 2015, and who combines the expressive pathos of his country of birth […] with the strict clarity of a technique matured on the podiums of the most important orchestras in the world.

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28th May 2017

Suddeutsche Zeitung

Klaus P. Richter

So much Tchaikovsky is unusual: the first piano concerto has become the hit of the season in Munich. This has the advantage that one gets to hear different interpretations of the work.  On this occasion, Jean-Yves Thibaut was due to play at the Gasteig with the Munich Philharmonic, but he was replaced by Kirill Gerstein.  One was doubly curious because Gerstein chose to play the second account of the concerto, revised in 1879.

The Russian pianist came to the USA as a 14-year-old, where he traded jazz for classical music and quickly began a career.  He attacked the first movement of the concerto with passion, moving comfortably and easily into the pathos of the “Molto maestoso”, where he took the expressive force of Tchaikovsky’s intensity in his stride, revealing its taut rhetoric.  In the big cadenza he matched the fervour of the exuberant orchestral writing, over-pinning it with virtuoso brilliance, which then found its shining apotheosis in the jubilant “con fuoco” finale. The differences between this and the third version, which is mostly played today, proved to be marginal, relating only to details in the piano part of the first movement and the conclusion of the last movement.

Tchaikovsky expert Semyon Bychkov’s conducting was deeply sympathetic to Gerstein’s playing, but he showed his real credentials in the second half of the evening with the performance of Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique”.  With both passion and precision, he guided the large forces of the Philharmonic through all the refinements of the work, making it the highlight of the evening and of the orchestra: drawing out all the subtleties such as the delicate pianissimos in the “reverie” and the ghost dances in the “Dream of the Night of the Sabbath”; the finest colours from the winds in “Scene in the Fields”; the elegant wit of “A Ball”, and the magisterial violence of “March to the Scaffold”

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