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Teodor Currentzis

Teodor Currentzis is a conductor famed for the unorthodox operatic interpretations he has issued from the relatively remote cities of Novosibirsk and Perm. The Guardian has called him "the conducting equivalent of Glenn Gould morphed with Kurt Cobain." Born in Athens on February 24, 1972, Currentzis studied piano and violin as a child. A prodigy, he entered Greece's National Conservatory at 12 as a violinist, switching to composition several years later. In 1994, he moved to Russia and began studying conducting with the nonagenarian Ilya Musin at the State Conservatory in St. Petersburg, graduating in 1998. He pointed out that with Greece's long history of military dictatorship, including the one in force when he was born, a move to Russia was in no way surprising, and indeed, he has become an icon of intellectual freedom in the music sphere among progressive forces in his adopted country. He is a naturalized Russian citizen. In 2004, while he held the position of music director of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Orchestra, Currentzis founded and became the artistic director of MusicAeterna, leading both the choir and ensemble in period-style performances. In 2006, he also started the Territoria Modern Art Festival in Moscow. Remaining in Novosibirsk until 2010, Currentzis became the artistic director of the Perm State Opera and Ballet Theater. He was the recipient of the Golden Mask theatrical award, and he received awards for his performances of Purcell's The Indian Queen, Berg's Wozzeck, Prokofiev's Cinderella, and Mozart's Le nozze de Figaro. Currentzis remains the director of MusicAeterna and has toured Europe with new productions of Purcell's The Indian Queen and other Baroque operas. Increasingly renowned in western Europe, he became the chief conductor of the new SWR Sinfonieorchester in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2018. Currentzis has made several recordings of the Alpha label, beginning in 2008, and including one of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 14, Op. 135, one of his few non-operatic releases. However, it is his approach to Mozart that has made headlines and attracted the attention of the multinational Sony label. With blistering tempi, furious attacks influenced by his historical Baroque performance background, and an international group of singers handpicked to keep up with him, Currentzis' cycle of Mozart operas (Don Giovanni was recorded in Perm in 2016) has excited, and to an extent polarized, critics and listeners. He has increasingly often recorded instrumental music with the MusicAeterna Orchestra, issuing performances of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 ("Pathétique"), in 2017, Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor in 2018, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, in 2020. That year, Currentzis' early recording of Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, was reissued by the Alpha label.
© James Manheim & Blair Sanderson /TiVo


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