“It would be nonsense not to play Tchaikovsky anymore because he was Russian” says Tugan Sokhiev before his two concerts in Toulouse

the essential
A year after doubling his resignation from the Orchester du Capitole and that of the Bolshoi, Tugan Sokhiev is back in Toulouse. On Saturday March 18, at the Halle aux grains, he will conduct the world-renowned Wiener Philharmoniker. And will return to the Capitol on March 23;

You conduct the Wiener Philharmoniker regularly since 2009. What do you like about this orchestra?

The sound he produces… very Viennese, that is to say sung, warm, rich, sometimes dark, sometimes light, with lots of colors. Its strings are famous: a reference for all other orchestras. The Wiener is also remarkable in the way it protects the tradition, the history, the musical heritage that the elders passed on to it. Its identity has not changed since the time of Brahms. It was forged in the double practice of the opera and the symphony, which requires absolute listening, with regard to singers as well as other musicians.

Do you find there feelings that you had with the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theater?

In terms of sound, the way of playing, the two orchestras are completely different. But their excellence has the same origin: the defense of tradition and the practice of opera and symphony. Like in Dresden or Saint-Petersburg.

The Wiener Philharmoniker came to Toulouse, as part of the Great Performers, in 1992, 1995 and 2000, successively under the direction of Zubin Mehta, Bernard Haitinck and Seiji Ozawa. Are you proud to succeed them?

Of course, and particularly to Zubin Mehta, a man whom I adore musically and humanly, who has always inspired me a lot. Like them, I imagine, the chemistry with the musicians of the Wiener is total. We don’t discuss the technical details; we are very high in the musical sky.

After leaving Toulouse and Moscow, do you feel the need to build a long-term relationship elsewhere?

This is what I aspire to in Vienna. We know each other well, we often went on tour together. Our relationship is special and it matures over time. Remember that the Wiener is not the orchestra of a state or a city. It is a group of musicians employed by the Vienna Opera. They have the power to choose those who join them and solicit the leaders with whom they want to work. With a single goal: to share the pleasure of music.

Which orchestras have you conducted since your concert in Toulouse, with the Capitole, last November?

I worked with the Staatskapelle Dresden in a very contemporary program. I also spent almost a month in Japan with their most beautiful orchestra, that of the NHK. Trained by a German chef, this set has a very Germanic side, with a lot of depth and density. It’s tough!

Obviously, you take pleasure in changing orchestras, countries, atmospheres…

I like the mix of different cultures and mentalities. Music unites peoples and nations; she is honest and sincere; it directly touches our soul. Conversely, today, words are losing their value: they are often misused.

From one orchestra to another, you are always committed to defending the musicians of your country, Russia…

It would be nonsense to stop playing Tchaikovsky or Chekhov, to stop reading Dostoyevsky because of their nationality. They must not suffer from the current political situation in Russia. The first in particular, who had spent a lot of time in Ukraine, who adored this country. Music can be dramatic or romantic; she is never aggressive.

Nothing is yet signed for the rest with the Capitol

Tugan Sokhiev will return to the Orchester du Capitole on Thursday March 23 in a Shostakovich program and the premiere of a work by Raskatov. And will return on June 10 for a Viennese evening signed Beethoven and Mahler. For the coming seasons, nothing has yet been signed with the Capitol. “I will never cut the very strong bond that unites me to the musicians”, affirms Tugan Sokhiev, who evokes “discussions” whose outcome depends on his “very busy” schedule. The Russian chef is delighted with the arrival in September 2024 of young Finnish chef Tarmo Peltokoski. “Toulouse is a very beautiful old city but it should not become a museum. She needs the energy of youth. I don’t know Tarmo Peltokoski but if the Capitole musicians chose him, I trust them completely! »

Concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker on Saturday March 18 at 8 p.m. at the Halle aux grains, Toulouse with the Great Performers. Rimsky-Korsakov Tchaikovsky program. Prices: from €20 to €165. Tel.05 61 21 09 00.