Not everyone can be a conductor for himself. Newspaper “Nevskoye Time”

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Not everyone can be a conductor for himself.

Newspaper  “Nevskoye Time”  24.05.2011

Valery Kagalavsky, theatre expert

Russian violinist Maxim Fedotov, whom foreign press calls the "Russian Paganini" gave a concert appearance in St.Petersburg.

Musicians greeted him as an old acquaintance in the corridors of the Philharmony, and half the public considered the conductor as "their own fellow", although he has been living in Moscow for a long time. For Maxim Fedotov it is coming back home indeed. Son of the professor of the Conservatory, famous conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre, he performed with the both Philharmony Orchestras since 1980-1990s. But - as a violinist. The concert reviews called him a virtuoso, and even the "Russian Paganini". He did not refuse this image nowadays. However, a few years ago, Maxim Fedotov got the conductor's stand as artistic director of the Moscow "Russian Philharmonic" Symphony Orchestra and soon gained the full house. But four years later he was forced to leave the Company and arrived in St. Petersburg "with loose hands," as a freelance artist.

Maxim Fedotov was invited to participate in concert series "I Am My Own Conductor,” where performer assumes dual role: he directs the orchestra, and performs as a soloist. The program included Italian classic music – “The Seasons” by A.Vivaldi sounded in the first part: Maxim Fedotov was a soloist and conductor of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of Philharmony at the same time. It was performed by orchestra, whereas normally this Concerto cycle is performed by a smaller ensemble. The second part of the concert included popular opera overtures by Rossini and Verdi. The conductor was standing at the stand without a violin, and without a conductor's baton in his hand. The absence of this "tool" is a basic principle for Fedotov: he conducts orchestra, using subtle movements of his hand, and believes that "in all senses it is more natural to "touch" the music with bare hands, without any interpreter in the form of baton. This is just to feel the sound with your fingertips, not with the end of the baton."

His plasticity – is that of a violinist. Fedotov demands “tenacious and clear touch” from musicians, but the performance shows: details are not as important as the general view - a view at classic music like at the music of our days. It means, as Maxim Fedotov says, "performance on stage at the highest degree", the same "drive", movement of emotions and passions expressed by musical means.

Vivaldi performed in our century differs from the classical standard, and therefore acquired a different character and sound. It was done quite deliberately: Fedotov was counting on the audience, who lives here and nowadays, comes to the concert from a noisy street, goes out onto the street when orchestra finishes playing, and may not perceive the gap between the centuries. Of course, there are different approaches to the music arts, as well as different audiences, and the conductor does not dispute the value of traditional or authentic manner - he chose what is adequate for him and his listeners. Hence the focus is set on the most popular classic pieces, which are at least were heard with half an ear. Maxim Fedotov, takes a step toward such listeners, although experienced connoisseurs, just knowing how each note is to sound, might prefer another execution.

Concert in the Big Hall of the Philharmony became another touchstone, an occasion for thinking about - how classical music can bring back the audience into the hall, to be successful in the contemporary meaning of this word. That is how it can maintain itself and survive economically. Maxim Fedotov’s experience as an artistic director of the orchestra showed that the public can fill in halls, and conductor’s fans even arrange I-net blogs. Another thing is that other fields of Art must survive due to popular classics. Actually, every music stage in St.Petersburg operates in this way, but they do not declare it openly, in contrast to the Philharmonies in smaller cities.

But let’s not forget about the price of success: managers of art when they are not restricted by anybody, want greater prosperity, and at the expense of Art itself. Maxim Fedotov had to leave "Russian Philharmonic" Orchestra ... But every cloud has a silver lining: new opportunities open up before him. Now the conductor directs another orchestra. Maxim Fedotov visits St. Petersburg more frequently. In addition to his concerts at Philharmony, he conducted Orchestras in Cappella, House of Music, Palace of the Beloselsky-Belozerskys. And his concert is planned to be held at Mariinsky Theatre in April.

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