Conductor Laureate: Philharmonia Orchestra Conductor Laureate: NHK Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate: Iceland Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor: Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Conducting has formed the largest part of Vladimir Ashkenazy’s activities for the past 30 years. As Conductor Laureate of the Philharmonia Orchestra, he led them on a major tour of Latin America in September 2014. He also holds the same positions with the Iceland Symphony and NHK Symphony orchestra. From 2000 – 2015 he was Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra; and from 2009 – 2013 he was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has collaborated on a number of significant recording projects and major international tours. He maintains strong links with major orchestras including The Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and makes guest appearances with leading ensembles all over the world.
Ashkenazy maintains his devotion to the piano, these days mostly in the recording studio, where he continues to build his extraordinarily comprehensive recording catalogue. Spring 2013 saw the release of ‘Ashkenazy: 50 Years on Decca’ — a 50-CD box-set celebrating Ashkenazy’s long standing relationship with Decca Classics. In 2014, Decca also released a milestone collection of Ashkenazy’s vast catalogue of Rachmaninov’s piano music, which also includes all of his recordings as a conductor of the composer’s orchestral music.
“The Cleveland Orchestra joined two old friends — guest conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and pianist Emanuel Ax […] Ashkenazy set the first movement up with a true pianissimo and a leisurely, spacious tempo that gave Ax plenty of room to express himself […] Communication between soloist, conductor, and orchestra was mesmerizing. Ashkenazy and the Orchestra’s strings gave those outer movements an ebullient performance, and brought out Elgar’s elegiac side in the expressive Larghetto. Sunday’s program ended in an explosion of orchestral color with Elgar’s Enigma Variations. What fun it would have been to be one of the composer’s friends and find your personality captured in these thumbnail sketches. The sonorous opening leads to fourteen witty, brilliant, sometimes bittersweet musical portraits, including one identified only as *** (an enigma within an enigma). Canny pacing from Ashkenazy and playing of uncommon brilliance and transparency from The Cleveland Orchestra and its many soloists made this a performance to cherish.”
(Cleveland, November 2017)
“The orchestra Friday evening welcomed Ashkenazy like a favorite uncle, treating their guest, a regular since 1968 but absent since 2010, to two uniformly stellar performances of works by Elgar, and supported Ax with affection in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1. After the first work on the program, one can only ask: where has Elgar’s Serenade for Strings been since 1996? Maybe Ashkenazy, the one who performed it then as well, is the key, the one uniquely capable of unlocking the work’s elegance and supreme tenderness of feeling. Maybe he’s the only one who can elicit from Cleveland’s strings such clarity and tonal sheen. Different, much more famous work by Elgar after intermission. Same electrifying effect by Ashkenazy. You would think, after so many performances over the years, that the Cleveland Orchestra couldn’t get better in the “Enigma Variations,” that within those 14 musical portraits, there wouldn’t be anything left to reveal. You would be wrong. With Ashkenazy at the helm Friday, the orchestra made the popular score sound almost new. With him, the piece was again the virtuoso showcase it really is, the treasure-trove of melody and brilliant orchestration.”
(Cleveland, November 2017)
“There is great intensity to Eisenstein’s images of terrifying violence and the Shostakovich arrangement underlines this. […] Ashkenazy drew muscular and detailed playing from the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also gave the music light and shade.”
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