The Russian conductor Gennadi Nikolaievich Rozhdestvensky is accustomed to saying “Mozart conducts itself”. A provocation or an iconoclastic vision? Besides this sulphurous affirmation, nothing about Rojdestvenski’s career leaves you feeling indifferent, whether it is his conducting technique or his choice of repertoires.
Born in Moscow in 1931, the exceptionally gifted conductor Rozhdestvensky was quickly noticed by the greatest Russian composers. Prokofiev bore him constant admiration. He kept regular company with Dmitri Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov, a closeness he conveyed in the first performance of a number of their works.
After his debut at the Bolchoi and the Moscow Radio, Rozhdestvensky’s career became international as he conducted the greatest orchestras of Stockholm, Vienna and London. His particularly vast repertoire embraces masterpieces from Bach to contemporary music. Rojdestvenski has recorded an impressive discography including several operas by Shostakovich, ballets by Tchaikovsky and rarer works like Nielson’s Aladdin.
His conducting style, verging on the burlesque while constantly preoccupied with the musical text, in no way deters the respect of his colleagues. On the contrary, Rozhdestvensky has gained the admiration Evgeny Svetlanov despite his lack of compromise towards his colleagues, and has profoundly influenced the younger generation’s most gifted conductors like Yutaka Sado.
Directed by Bruno Monsaingeon
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra — Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
BBC Proms, 1981
With Guennadi Rojdestvenski
BBC Symphony conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Sadler's Wells Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras