On 18 August, Maestro Dmitrij Kitajenko turned 80. The Russian label Melodiya publishes now a collection of eight CDs (currently only in digital form) with an extremely varied and broad program with recordings from the seventies and the eighties of the 20th century, including previously unreleased Bernstein’s Second Symphony and excerpts from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane.
“Today he can be considered one of the five or six best conductors in the world. This phenomenon is out of the ordinary,” Herbert von Karajan enthused over the young Dmitrij Kitajenko. In the history of Russian conducting, Kitajenko’s art has played an outstanding and, perhaps, not yet truly appreciated part.
And now, after living outside Russia for three decades and performing with some of the best orchestras of Europe, Asia, and the USA, Kitajenko remains one of the leading Russian conductors abroad. However, it was the first, Soviet period of the conductor’s career in the capacity of musical director of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater and chief conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra that left the greatest imprint on the musical life of Moscow. And his surviving studio and concert recordings of those years are still relevant today – The Golden Cockerel by Rimsky-Korsakov and Aleko by Rachmaninov, the suite from the ballet Gayane by Khachaturian, Don Juan by Richard Strauss, and symphonic opuses by Butsko, Yanchenko, Kabalevsky, Theodorakis, Bernstein, and other composers of the 20th century. In this regard, the ‘disc of dedications’ with recordings of the symphonies by Yuri Butsko and Irakli Gabeli written especially for Dmitrij Kitajenko is of particular interest.
In 1984, the premiere of the monumental Spring Symphony (No. 7) by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis conducted by Kitajenko was the major event of the International Music Festival in Moscow. The recording of that performance was released unlike the recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Second Symphony performed at the same festival. Melodiya releases it now for the first time.
Another previously unreleased recording and a bright page of Kitajenko’s theatre period is Aram Khachaturian’s Gayane Suite performed with the orchestra of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre. Under his baton, the orchestra performs a one-act version of the ballet staged by the theatre in 1972.
Having taken charge of the Moscow Philharmonic, Kitajenko kept returning to opera. He recorded concert performances with the participation of outstanding singers: The Golden Cockerel by Rimsky-Korsakov’s was one of those recordings.
The release also features works by Rachmaninov: the opera Aleko, Allegro from the ‘youth’ symphony, and the cantata Spring with soloist Yuri Mazurok soloing, one of the maestro’s last recordings made in 1989 before he left Russia.
DMITRIJ KITAJENKO COLLECTION