Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NYPO Suggestions & Speculation from the NY Times

Well, this isn't either surprising or particularly interesting: the Times classical music critics put forth some thinking about who should lead the NY Phil. Michael Cooper, who wrote the introductory section, tactfully refers to the "sometimes willfull" musicians, who have long had a reputation for being ornery, stubborn, resistant, and generally a difficult bunch to corral and direct. Whether that reputation is deserved or current, I do not know.

So who comes to mind?
  • Tommasini: Esa-Pekka Salonen (Note the photo placement, which has Ludovic Morlot's photo next to Tommasini's section)
  • Fonseca-Wollheim: Tells you who not to hire, in rather broad strokes, with hidden references to real events. I believe that was Jaap van Zweden who demoted a musician right before a performance. The Revolutionary sounds an awful lot like Pierre Boulez, who left the orchestra decades ago: the tip-off is "Who needs seats?" which might be a reference to Boulez's legendary rug concerts. Look, it was the 1970s and an attempt at informality. How does that differ from today's SoundBox and Poisson Rouge concerts? I attended one and it was a lot of fun! Anyway, stop fighting old battles, please.
  • Woolfe: Vote No. 2 for Esa-Pekka Salonen, but he does come up with some additional interesting names, Morlot, Susanna Malkki, James Gaffigan, and Daniel Harding.
  • Allen: "Perhaps" Salonen, perhaps Pablo Heras-Casado or Malkki, but if we're looking for someone more traditional, Manfred Honeck, currently MD of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
  • Schweitzer: A lot of blather and a mention without antecedent of "Mr. Robertson" that makes me suspect an editing error.
About what you might expect, plus Tommasini lauds the appointment of Alan Gilbert. The critics are united in nominating conductors under age 60, though there's no one under 30 listed. 


Aleksei said...

I laughed when I saw this comment at the NYT today:

Once again, Anthony Tommasini makes his pick based on the new Music Director's ability/sympathy with modern music. This is the same critic who picked Debussy, Bartok, and Stravinsky on his list of 10 greatest composers of all time and left off Haydn, Mahler, and Tchaikovsky (not to mention Dvorak).

You can't force audiences to like something they don't, and they/we don't like modern music. Give me someone who excels at Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Sibelius, Schubert, and so on.

The garbage Tommasini is talking about will be forgotten in 10 years. Why should we have to put up with it in the meantime?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Music ended in 1900, I guess! But I'm glad I missed that particular memo.

greg b said...

To Aleksei,
Yes, ALL the composers you listed are wonderful.
But I must agree with Tommasini: Debussy and Bartok are in fact two of the ten greatest composers in history.
Please open your mind and your ears.....
Salonen is an excellent interpreter of them all, and he is certainly conversant with contemporary music, but I have doubts that he wants to take on a post like the NY Phil.
As I understand it, he wants more time to compose.
- Greg from SF

Lisa Hirsch said...

Greg, Aleksei is quoting someone posting a dumb comment on the NY Times article I link to. He left out the quotation marks and I don't think he agrees with the Bartok-hating NY Times commenter.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Salonen retire from LA specifically because he wanted to spend more time composing and less at the all-consuming job of being a music director?

That doesn't sound to me like a likely candidate for the NYP. Though people before now have been wooed away from just such pledges.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yes, that's why Salonen left, and yes, people change their minds. But I can understand why everybody and her sister is naming him as front runner.

Anonymous said...

Also, Salonen has moved his family back to LA from London, apparently because his son wants to go to high school in LA (I think his kids went to the Crossroads School in Santa Monica). He didn't actually get much composing done in London -- too much the center of the musical universe. None of this sounds like someone who wants to uproot himself again and move to New York.

greg b said...

You're right, Lisa. So sorry, Aleksei!
- Greg from SF

Anonymous said...

"He didn't actually get much composing done ..."

Cue Leonard Bernstein, sigh.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Salonen has never been very prolific. Here is a works list going back to 1979. I'm not sure that his conducting career is to blame. Anyone know whether he has unfulfilled commissions out there?

Anonymous said...

Salonen's website has not been keeping his list of works up to date: there are a couple of newer pieces. Iri da Iri, written for the LA Master Chorale and first performed last June, is an a cappella setting of the final canto of Dante's Paradiso.

And Karawane, written for the Zürich Tonhalle orchestra and premiered last September, is a large setting for chorus and orchestra (well, 35 minutes long, which is large for Salonen) of a famous Dada nonsense poem of the same name. The new music director in Zürich is Lionel Bringuier, former assistant conductor in LA under both Salonen and Dudamel, and Salonen has been doing a lot in Zürich. The LA Phil will perform Karawane in November, under Bringuier.

Mark Swed has been covering all this in the LA Times, which is how I know about it. Anyway, Salonen hasn't been completely idle.