Mark Gorenstein’s interview

Mark Gorenstein

Russian conductor Mark Gorenstein

Mark Gorenstein: “It’s the conductor who sets the sound of any orchestra”

On October 5, 2006 the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra reached the age of 70 years. The band, then known as the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, first appeared on stage in the Big Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on October 5, 1936, headed by a distinguished conductor Alexander Gauk.

Throughout the orchestra’s history, a number of outstanding musicians worked with it (including Natan Rakhlin, Konstantin Ivanov and Yevgeni Svetlanov) or gave joint concerts (Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Horowitz, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and many others).

On September 25, 2006 – Dmitry Shostakovich’s centenary celebration – Mstislav Rostropovich joined the Svetlanov Orchestra to play Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor, the one this orchestra, then conducted by Yevgeni Mravinsky, premiered in 1943.

In 2006 the Orchestra celebrated a double jubilee – 70 years since its foundation and its artistic director and chief conductor Mark Gorenstein’s 60th birthday. On September 2, 2006 Mark Gorenstein was awarded the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland”, 4th class by the Edict of the President of Russian Federation.

On the jubilee eve the conductor agreed to give the interview to Marina Kuklinskaya of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

– 70 years for an orchestra – is that a lot or not?

– Generally, it is the age of maturity. The cast becomes constant, with only minor staff rotations caused by natural aging. But the Svetlanov Orchestra had to live through some very serious hardships with musicians leaving for other bands and non-creative issues like the “war” against Yevgeni Svetlanov occurring. Back in 2002, when I joined the Svetlanov Orhestra, there were 70 new musicians in the cast – the orchestra was in fact rebuilt from scratch.

– Did you consider becoming the conductor of the SO, when you heard it playing for the first time?

– It was in Chișinău somewhere back in the 1960-s when I heard the Orchestra playing on the radio. The “Melodiya” record company later issued the “Best performers” series of LPs. I listened to the Svetlanov Orchestra playing Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” and decided that if I ever to conduct an orchestra it would be this one. The sound and the rendering were fantastic.

When I worked with the Bolshoi Theater, I used to get invitations to work with other bands, including Kirill Kondrashin’s Philarmonic Orchestra. However, I refused to leave the Bolshoi for anything but the Svetlanov Orchestra, and my patience was rewarded –I joined it and worked for 9 years as a member of the cast.

– How did your conducting career develop?

– I owe my first concert to Natan Rakhlin, the then-head of the Symphony Orchestra of the Gabdulla Tukay Philharmonic of the TASSR. I launched a formal request to be allowed to conduct the concert, and Rakhlin approved it with a note: “I don’t know this conductor, but let him try”.

This was a debut of mine. Later in the 1980-90s, I worked with many orchestras all over the world, including the MAV Symphony Orchestra in Budapest and the Busan Symphony Orchestra in the Republic of Korea. I also created the State Symphony Orchestra Novaya Rossiya, and in 2002 became the art director and chief conductor of the Svetlanov Orchestra.

– Today there are over twenty orchestras in Moscow only. What makes the Svetlanov Orchestra stand out of them all?

– Alas, not all of these orchestras are real creative teams. Today musicians work with one band after another, rarely thinking about the problems of a band as a consistent creative entity. However, it’s the conductor who sets the sound of any orchestra. According to one old Furtwängler’s saying, “A strange thing: one conductor makes the Vienna Philharmonic sound like a marching band, and the other makes the marching band sound like the Vienna Philharmonic.”

– What creative challenges do you offer as a head of the orchestra?

– First of all, the orchestra must play with proper technical skills – mind the balance in ensemble acting, watch the accents and so on. Interesting rendering is possible only when it’s based upon proper skills. The chief conductor should work on it every day, because any touring conductor will need only a couple of chords to understand if the orchestra and the chief conductor are professionals.

Concerning the repertoire, the band of this class must be able to play any music. Speaking about me personally, I prefer romantic and modern music. We’ve recently premiered some wonderful compositions of Rodion Shchedrin, Vladislav Kazenin. It is also a great pleasure to work at Giya Kancheli’s creations.

– What are your thoughts regarding the program of the jubilee season?

– We’re going to give subscription concerts in the Big Hall of Moscow Conservatory and the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Many musicians volunteered to play with the Svetlanov Orchestra, and, to let everyone in, we even have to break with our tradition and play the concerts with two soloists instead of only one. We will give 4 concerts dedicated to the artistic directors of the Orchestra – Gauk, Rakhlin, Ivanov, Svetlanov, and one dedicated to my own 60 years’ jubilee.


Mark Gorenstein

Mark Gorenstein is a Russian conductor and violinist.

Mark Gorenstein

Russian coductor Mark Gorenstein

Born 16 September 1946– Odessa, USSR

Legal name Mark Borisovich Gorenstein
Nationality Russian
Mark Gorenstein was born on September 16, 1946, in Odessa, the USSR. Since 1953, he studied in the Stolyarsky musical school at the violin class. In his early childhood, Mark Gorenstein dreamt of becoming a conductor.
He graduated from the Kishinev Musical College after Stefan Nyaga and entered the Kishinev Art University after G. Muzichesku.
In 1982, Gorenstein became a laureate of the All-Russian Contest of Conductors and started “performing with symphonic orchestras in Russia and abroad”.
In 1984, he graduated from the Novosibirsk Conservatory, at the conductors department at the class by Arnold Katz.
Mark B. Gorenstein was invited to the position of the chief conductor of the Symphonic orchestra of Hungarian Railway, MÁV Szimfonikus Zenekar in 1985, and later, in 1989, he became the chief conductor of the symphonic orchestra of the city of Pusan, South Korea.
Since 1993, Gorenstein headed the Russian State Symphonic Orchestra “The Young Russia”.
The chief conductor of the Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra 2002-2011.
In 2002, Mark Gorenstein received the title of the Russian People’s Artist – the Decree of the president of the Russian Federation as of 13.03.2002 N 278 “ON AWARDING OF STATE AWARDS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION”.
In 2005, the maestro received the Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation in the field of culture.
In 2006, he was awarded with the Order “For Merit for the Fatherland” of IV class.
Since 1994, Mark Gorenstein has made about forty records of pieces by Dmitry Shostakovich, P.I. Tchaikovsky, M.P. Mussorgsky, I. Brahms, Beethoven, Sergey Rachmaninov, F. List, G. Bizet, Rodion Shedrin, Alfred Schnittke, A.K. Glazunov, T. N. Khrennikov, A. N. Scriabin, Richard Strauss, J. Gershwin, Anton Bruckner, M.I. Glinka, Sergey Prokofiev, Mozart, Gustav Maler, S.I. Taneev, Vladislav Kasenin, A.P. Borodin.


“…Gorenstein, already persuasive the thrift and clearness of his gestures, was a sovereign leader of the orchestra with marvelous woodwind instruments , compact disciplined brass and wonderfully harmonious strings. A great evening! …”
Kartner Tageszeitung, Austria

The sixty-five-year-old Mark Gorenstein motivates the 120 members of his orchestra, the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia, with immense precision. And what a rewarding experience! From the very first moment one feels the musical suction effect with which the developments are lived through with heart and soul and culminate in the deceptive cadences of the famous Adagio finale movement. Mahler with Russian soul – who might resist it? {MDG Records}

Scriabin – Piano Concerto, MVT 3. Vladimir Krainev (piano), Mark Gorenstein (conductor)

Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini Op. 32 Mark Gorenstein Novosibirsk Philharmonic

Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin

Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin was  the Ukrainian conductor.
Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin was born December 28, 1905 – Snowsk (now Snovskoe) near Chernihiv, Chernigov Oblast, Ukraine
Age at Death
73 years old – June 28, 1979 – Kazan
Legal name: Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin
Nationality: Ukrainian
Natan Rakhlin attended the Kiev Conservatory and graduated from the department of conducting of the N.V. Lysenko Higher Musical Drama Institute in 1930.
From 1941 to 1945 he was Music Director of the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR
In 1966 Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin became Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the Tatar ASSR.
From 1946 to 1966, Rakhlin was a Professor at the Kiev Conservatory, and in 1967 he became Professor at the Kazan Conservatory.

State academic symphony orchestra «EVGENY SVETLANOV»

GASO Conductors 1936-2015

Aleksandr Vassilievich Gauk. Conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra 1936-1941
Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin. Conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra 1941- 1945
Konstantin Konstantinovich Ivanov. Conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra 1946-1965
Yevgeny Fyodorovich Svetlanov. Conductor of the State academic Symphony Orchestra 1965 -2000
Vassily Serafimovich Sinaisky. Conductor of the Russian State Orchestra 2000- 2002
Mark Borisovich Gorenstein. Conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation 2002- 2011
Vladimir Mikhailovich Jurowski. Conductor of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation 2011 -now