Sunday, April 23, 2017
The question is raised by two new studies of the nebulous profession, both in German. Finlands Dirigenten, by the Helsinki critic Vesa Siren , is a compendious attempt to explain why so many recent baton stars come from a country of five million people who speak a language related to no other. Siren suggests some of it is to do with the Sibelius heritage and some with quirky teaching at the Sibelius Academy, which Jorma Panula turned into a production line for fresh batons. These considerations aside, Siren comprehensively dismisses the idea that all Finns come in on size, underlining the temperamental ocean that divides the extravagant Leif Segertam (pictured) from the exceedingly self-contained Paavo Berglund. Finns are nothing if not individualists. Siren’s book is an essential bedside dipper for the limitless eccentricities of Suomi men with sticks. Dirigenten by Peter Gülke is a different kettle of egos. A former music director in Wuppertal, Gülke delivers potted profiles of conductors whom he considers important, from Hans von Bülow to Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Even more notable are his omissions – which is any conductor (except Toscanini and Markevitch) who is not German. So: no Nikisch, Mengelberg, Monteux, Mravinsky, Koussevitsky, Kubelik, Abbado, Muti, Mitropoulos, Talich, Solti, Haitink…. it is staggering to imagine that so myopic and insular a history could be published today in Germany.
"He looks like a club DJ. The titles of his pieces - Omnivorous Furniture, for one - are punk-rock friendly. The music itself sounds so spontaneous it has to be at least partly improvised." David Patrick Stearns talks to composer Mason Bates.
We present, by popular request, a revised Slipped Disc power list: 1 Anna Netrebko and Yusuf Eyvazov 2 Minnesota music director Osmo Vänskä and concertmaster Erin Keefe 3 Powerhouse Daniel Barenboim, pianist and festival director Elena Bashkirova 4 LSO chief Sir Simon Rattle, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena 5 Boston chief Andris Nelsons, hyper soprano Kristine Opolais 6 Trumpeter Alison Balsom and new husband, director Sam Mendes 7 Tenor Roberto Alagna, soprano Aleksandra Kurzak 8 Soprano Sonya Yoncheva, conductor Domingo Hindoyan 9 Soprano Elina Garanca, conductor Karel Mark Chichon 10 Conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky and pianist Viktoria Postnikova, together since 1969 11 Conductor David Robertson and pianist Orli Shaham 12 Composers Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière 13 Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, conductor Rafael Payare 14 Glyndebourne hosts Gus Christie and Danielle DeNiese 15 Violinist Nicola Benedetti, cellist Leonard Elschenbroich 16 Composer György Kurtág, pianist Marta Kurtág 17 Israeli composers Noam Sherriff and Ella Sheriff 18 Met boss Peter Gelb, conductor Kerry-Lynn Wilson 19 Pianist David Fray, director Chiara Muti 20 Cellist David Finckel and pianistWu Han, chamber music entrepreneurs
When the Berlin Philharmonic selected a successor to Sir Simon Rattle two years ago, the players shortlisted the three most successful conductors in Germany, judged by their summer performances in Bayreuth. Kirill Petrenko defeated Christian Thielemann in a close ballot. The third man, Andris Nelsons, picked up the Gewandhaus orchestra and Boston Symphony as runner-up prizes. All agreed that the orchestra had gone about the search in the most musical possible way. When the New York Philharmonic needed to replace Alan Gilbert as music director, the players were presented with a choice of Jaap Van Zweden of Houston and Manfred Honeck of Pittsburgh. Neither ranked among the rainmakers in US orchestras. The buzz conductors – Dudamel (LA), Muti (Chicago), Nezet-Seguin (Philadelphia) and Nelsons (Boston) – were not auditioned. This was not a musical process. However, when it came to picking a manager for the floundering NY Phil, the board went unerringly after the best orchestra boss in America – and yesterday got her. What does that tell you about the NY Phil? That it prizes a great manager above a great conductor.
Are Orchestras Better than Ever? Why Riccardo Muti is Wrong Are orchestras better than ever? Riccardo Muti thinks so. Recently, ... he said: “The level of the orchestras in the world – especially in the seventies and eighties — has gone up everywhere.” ... read more AJBlog: Unanswered Question Published 2017-02-26 Burying the Bad News: Sotheby’s Earnings Call Ignores 30% Drop in 2016 Adjusted Net Income “I feel good,” Tad Smith repeatedly declared during Sotheby’s earnings call with securities analysts this morning. Buoyed by New Year’s hopes for better performance in 2017 after a lackluster 2016, Sotheby’s president and CEO enumerated ... read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2017-02-27 The Serene Eye of a Storm Danspace Project presents Julie McMillan in Benjamin Kimitch’s KO-BU. ... read more AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2017-02-27
Our young Chicago friend Liam Jankelovics, 15, is co-principal double bass of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has recently enjoyed his first exposure to the music director of the CSO. Here are Liam’s impressions: My Evening With Muti Living in Chicago provides many incredible opportunities for young musicians, and although I get to hear many inspiring artists in concert, I never would have thought that I would get to actually perform with one of them. I am 15 years old, and have been playing double bass for six years. I currently serve as a co-principal of the bass section of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and as inspiring as that is, I had no idea that it would lead me to performing onstage with one of the greatest conductors alive today. Last week, I played in the Chicago Youth in Music Festival, a weekend festival celebrating the vast amount of young talent in the Chicago area, culminating in an open rehearsal at Symphony Center under the baton of maestro Riccardo Muti. I was overjoyed when I was first invited to participate, and especially so when I learned that we would be playing Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. As someone who grew up going to concerts at Symphony Center, listening to the CSO, and marveling at the genius of maestro Muti, it was truly an honor to stand in the spot where many other masterful musicians have stood before me and to learn from Muti’s wisdom firsthand. Maestro Muti is the personification of over 50 years of wisdom about conducting and playing music. However, he delivers his thoughts in such a charming and engaging way that we, as well as the audience, were immediately won over. At one point, he humbly told us that if we were to listen to each other more, we wouldn’t need a conductor. Sure enough, he told us to play the passage without him making even one gesture, and, forced to rely upon one another, we sounded much more coherent and together that way. This proved his point that conductors need to do as little as possible and not draw all the attention to themselves. “I am Neapolitan, if i want to make the clown i can do it better than anyone”, he said, talking about how flamboyant some conductors are. He of course had a lot to say about specific musical articulation, like how “staccato does not mean it’s Rossini”, and especially in this symphony we should not play too short and clipped. He also exhorted the string players to vibrate before playing the actual note or else it would be too late, and that the second movement (written “in modo di canzona”) should be played like “a peasant collecting tomatoes”, because “To make music in the simplest way is the most difficult thing”. One can also see his opera heritage in everything that he does. He kept telling us how every instrument needs to be singing, even the timpani. As the timpanist accompanied the strings, Muti said “the violins are the spaghetti, the timpani is the sauce.” This, everyone onstage had no problem understanding. Maestro Muti specified, quoting Toscanini, that the short notes in particular need to be sung, because “they need our help”. He wanted the lines to be long and always have a direction, just like in an opera on stage. My favorite part of the rehearsal was when the Maestro Muti turned to the bass section and told us something totally unexpected: He said “The double bass is the most important instrument in the orchestra, every note should be full of life, even if it is repeated 300 times. It’s the foundation of the orchestra. If the basses lift the notes, the rest of the orchestra will breathe. You have a whole house in your hands!” As a young bassist, it was extremely inspiring to hear this from such a prominent and wise conductor like Maestro Muti. This was a transformative experience, and surely one that I will remember and cherish for a very long time.