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Cellos

Alexey Zhilin

In the orchestra since 2011

Alexey Zhilin was proclaimed “A Superb Russian” by the Austrian press after a historic “double” victory in Johannes Brahms Competition (2018), where he took two first prizes.

It’s a rare if not a unique case nowadays when a musician, who was educated solely in Russia, more than that, in one city and by one teacher, earned international acclaim.

Alexey Zhilin (born in Leningrad in 1987) is one of the last disciples of an outstanding professor from St. Petersburg – Anatolii Nikitin. Alexey won in more than fifteen international competitions, he was also the first Russian winner of XXXVIII Dr. Luis Sigall International Music Competition (Chile). He later took the second place in one of the most prestigious competitions among cellists – Isang Yun competition (South Korea), which is the greatest achievement of the Russian cellists during the history of the competition.

The Belgian press compared the sound of his cello to the voices of great opera singers, calling it “mesmerizing” during the first in history Queen Elizabeth International cello competition in Brussels.

At present, the musician tours in: Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, South Korea, Japan. However, he pays great attention to concerts in Russia, considering them his mission as a Russian musician.

Alexey Zhilin has toured in Russia from Kamchatka to Murmansk both with solo concertos and as a part of well-known David Oistrakh string quartet (has been playing there since its foundation).

He has been teaching at Saint Petersburg Conservatory at the cello department since 2014, following in the footsteps of his teacher A.P. Nikitin. He regularly gives master-classes in Russia, Europe and Asia.

His repertoire includes a great part of the legacy of cello music together with a line of rare compositions, which can pleasantly surprise even the most exacting audience (A.P. Borodin cello sonata, M. Weinberg’s Fantasia for cello and orchestra, preludes for solo cello etc.).

His repertoire also includes a substantial amount of contemporary music as he actively cooperates with modern composers. He performed Russian premieres of the compositions of Philippe Hersant, Isang Yun, Boris Tishchenko.

Alexey Zhilin cooperates with such musicians as Eliso Virsaladze, Teodor Currentzis, Kent Nagano and many others.

WHO IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT SPECTATOR IN THE AUDIENCE?
When my father was alive, he was my most important spectator: I played for him. Now, it means a lot to me if my mother, my wife or my son are among the audience. Of course, when we perform together with Teodor, he is the most demanding and attentive listener. Even when he hears hundreds of voices at once, he manages to identify every single one.
DO YOU OFTEN ATTEND OTHER ORCHESTRAS’ CONCERTS? WHAT CONCERT HAS IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST RECENTLY?
No, not that often. I simply have no spare time to do that. For me to attend someone else’s concert, it should be truly special. Gautier Capuçon, a French cellist, probably performed the most impressive concert out of those I have seen lately. He played Prokofiev’s music, which sounded truly powerful.
DO YOU LISTEN BACK TO MUSICAETERNA RECORDINGS?
Yes, with pleasure. Many musicians prefer not to listen to their own recordings; many directors do not watch their own movies. Perhaps they are not sure of the end result. It is not easy to be completely honest with yourself. Admitting your mistakes is hard — but admitting their absence is even harder. You will always evaluate yourself lower than you should. Out of all our recordings so far, the final movement of Mahler’s Symphony No.3 is my favourite.
DO YOU HAVE A LIFE-LONG DREAM?
I am always eager to learn. I reckon it would be nice to master a profession that is completely unrelated to my current one — say, construction or cooking. Speaking of music, I would like to learn to play the trombone. The cello has a beautiful, warm, lively, noble sound — but it does not really stand out when played in an orchestra. I guess I am subconsciously drawn towards a louder instrument to make up for that.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST CONCERT WITH MUSICAETERNA?
I remember my first concert with the orchestra very well. I was invited to musicAeterna as a guest musician for one programme, at that time I didn't even think about working in an orchestra — I was focused on competitions, solo concerts and considered studying abroad. We played Haydn's The Seven Last Words, where the cello part, if you look at the score, is very transparent and does not present much difficulty. However, I was amazed by the depth of Teodor Currentzis's work on literally every note. All the musicians were so busy with a huge number of tasks that everyone forgot about the seeming 'simplicity of the text' very quickly. Usually the cello plays an accompanying role in the orchestra, but in the process of working at musicAeterna, I realized that I need to think like a conductor — to know the entire score, even while playing the accompaniment within the part of one instrument. Teodor turned my mind around completely with regard to working on the repertoire, on the musical text. Before working with him, I had a more down-to-earth perception of music. For instrumentalists, it often happens that technical tasks come to the fore and the meaning of work may get lost. Teodor, on the contrary, taught me that the main task should be to convey an artistic image, and everything else only serves this purpose.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
The whole life of a modern musician is an eternal tour. You get tired of it, and right now my favourite pastime is staying at home. I really like to spend time with my family, play billiards and go out in nature. I even have a small vegetable garden in my grandmother's old country cottage. I work in it for the peace of mind when I have time. At home, I appreciate calm and quiet. I listen to music, but not so often, I'd rather read books myself or to my son aloud.

musicAeterna orchestra events

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Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)
Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor (1902)

  1. Trauermarsch. Im gemessenen Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt | At a measured pace. Strict. Like a funeral procession
  2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit grösster Vehemenz | Moving stormily. With the greatest vehemence
  3. Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell | Strong and not too fast
  4. Adagietto. Sehr langsam | Very slow
  5. Rondo-Finale. Allegro, Allegro giocoso
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Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
Overture to the opera The Power of Fate (1862/1869)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 (1937)
Moderato
Allegretto
Largo
Allegro non troppo

The musicAeterna Orchestra
Conductor Teodor Currentzis

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Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
Overture to the opera The Power of Fate (1862/1869)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 (1937)
Moderato
Allegretto
Largo
Allegro non troppo

The musicAeterna Orchestra
Conductor Teodor Currentzis

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Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
Overture to the opera The Power of Fate (1862/1869)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47 (1937)
Moderato
Allegretto
Largo
Allegro non troppo

The musicAeterna Orchestra
Conductor Teodor Currentzis

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Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)
Symphony №2 in C Minor (Resurrection Symphony) for soprano, alto, mixed choir and orchestra (1888–1894)

Allegro maestoso
Andante moderato
In ruhig fließender Bewegung | With quietly flowing movement
Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht | “Primal Light”. Very solemn, but simple
Im Tempo des Scherzos | In the tempo of the scherzo

The musicAeterna Orchestra
Conductor — Teodor Currentzis