Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Slatkin to Leave Detroit Symphony

And another surprise: Leonard Slatkin will leave the Detroit Symphony Orchestra after the upcoming (2017-18) season. He has been music director for ten years.

Updated list of known openings:
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra (when Leonard Slatkin leaves in 2018)
  • Seattle Symphony Orchestra (when Ludovic Morlot leaves in 2019)
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (when David Robertson leaves)
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (when Jaap van Zweden takes up his new post at the NYPO in 2018)
  • Milwaukee Symphony
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • San Diego Symphony
  • Orchestra Nationale de France
  • Vienna Staatsoper / VPO (Dominique Meyer not planning to appoint a WSO MD; his contract expires in 2020.)


Evan Tucker said...

Predictions for over here (which of course is purely a game, I'll get'em all wrong, and doesn't mean a damn thing...)

Detroit: Macelaru or Guerrero - nobody wants it so they have to go the next rung down...
Seattle: Dausggaard - he's principal guest, he probably knew something before we did
St. Louis: Storgaards or Deneve, I'm inclined to say Storgaards just because Deneve is always the bridesmaid whom nobody really seems to get excited over. But if they snap up Markus Stenz before Baltimore I'll go postal...
Dallas: Tough, probably either Lintu or Casado. If Casado wants it it's probably his, but I'd imagine he doesn't so I'd go with Lintu.

Also, isn't Toronto still open? In that case I'd guess Mena since Storgaards is clearly very close to the St Louis SO, unless Valcuha wants Toronto but I'd imagine he's headed for higher climbs.

Soon enough, posts will probably be open in Batimore (Stenz), Chicago, and Pittsburgh (a shame because Honeck and Pittsburgh are amazing together)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Dausggaard just stepped into the BBC Scottish job a year or two back, though. Will he want or need two jobs that are 11 hours away from each other?

Doesn't Baltimore love Alsop at this point? What's your indication that there will be an opening there? Her other job is in South America and is unlikely to become her only job.

I'm always surprised that Heras-Casado doesn't have a full-time US position. Also looking for someone to pick up Gaffigan.

What about Malkki? I would think she would be a candidate for any top-flight US orchestra. She might be a good fit with St. Louis.

Evan Tucker said...

Whenever a principle guest is hired right before the MD leaves, I always assume there's an understanding. You're absolutely right about Dausggaard's commitments, but I shouldn't pretend to understand conductor logic...

I don't much care for a number of PHC's interpretations I've heard, but I deeply respect how huge his repertoire is, with so many interests, I doubt he would find the kind of creative freedom he probably wants at a second-level American orchestra. Maybe in NYC/LA/Chicago, maybe even San Francisco. But I doubt Dallas of all places would appreciate anything but tried and true.

Malkki is another one whom I would imagine is a little too big for the appointments currently open. I'd imagine that if Muti leaves Chicago, both she and PHC will be looked at, ditto if Honeck leaves Pittsburgh (perhaps for Chicago).

I've heard it mentioned that Gaffigan and Cleveland are sort of slated for each other whenever FWM decides he's had enough.

Generally speaking, Baltimore loves Alsop, but I doubt Alsop loves Baltimore. Most of us are sure she wanted to 'move up' by now and was disappointed she didn't get NY. You're right, Sao Paolo is not exactly everybody's idea of a great post, but I don't doubt she could get something interesting in England or on the continent or even Japan. Attendance is very low these days, partially because they fired the PR firm at the beginning of the year and never hired a replacement, and everybody worries that there's about to be a labor strike - albeit they started negotiations early, which is a very good sign. Alsop is the right music director for Baltimore if classical music wants a future here, but that's assuming it has any at all... Stenz, on the other hand, is one of the great conductors in the world who deserves something on the Berlin Philharmonic's level. But I definitely picked up the sense, from Stenz's recent pre-concert talk, that there was some kind of understanding, which makes me extremely excited. I have no idea what he can do to improve attendance that Marin couldn't, so maybe this would just be the last glorious ride on the way down. Marin did some great things here, but she can find a more appreciative public elsewhere. She's about to found a summer contemporary music festival in Baltimore, so I wonder if this won't be her yearly honored return. I'll be happy enough if she stays, and even happier if she figures out a way to make me something other than the youngest person in the hall by 35 years.

Lisa Hirsch said...

So getting back to this, which I should have replied to in Mary...

- Deneve to St. Louis, replacing Robertson.
- robertson now on the loose. I have no idea where he might land.
- I wonder whether Alsop's Baltimore contemporary music festival is going to be like Cabrillo, which I have found a weird combination of terrific and exasperating over the years. (Her replacement in Cabrillo is a conductor that nobody seems to know much about.)

Speaking of conductors who don't have full-time jobs: Evan Rogister, whom I found very impressive in Santa Fe's King Roger in 2012.

Evan Tucker said...

- Deneve is not a genius, but he's incredibly reliable and deserves better. Not that St. Louis is anything to sneeze at, but he should by all rights be in Boston - apparently the orchestra liked Nelsons but they loved Deneve. It was management pushing Nelsons on them. Nelsons has it in him to be the next Furtwangler, but he's absentee from Boston and I can't imagine him lasting more than ten years.
- Robertson still has Sydney, which is not nothing. I wouldn't be utterly, totally, surprised if Robertson as a dark horse gets a five years at Czech Philharmonic just as a way to try something completely different - gotta work better than Luisi or Zweden or Marin taking on a third orchestra, which acc. to Lebrecht is the most likely scenario. John Eliot Gardiner strikes me as the most likely stopgap candidate until Hrusa's available or Netopil's ready - Jeggy's surprisingly amazing in Czech music.
- I'll report to you about the music fest next week. I ran into a friend who works at the BSO, and said that the BSO is disappointed Stenz is not more of a box office draw. Which strikes me as extraordinary because nobody was a box-office draw at the BSO this year as they fired their publicity team. I often wonder who the idiots are running these organizations...

My feeling is that, as usual, the wrong conductors will end up at the wrong orchestras, and there will be a lot of serving time at all these places and hand-wringing. Whatever his flaws, a lot of San Franciscans don't seem to understand how extraordinary the partnership with MTT seems back east. Just here in Baltimore, Temirkanov, however extraordinary, absolutely should not have been the MD after Zinman - the BSO was an amazing, Cleveland-like orchestra back then. YT fired most of the principals and wasn't around often or long enough to do anything with his replacements. There was an enviable roster of possibilities - talk about Tate, Fischer, Marriner, Herbig, and they chose the biggest name of all. Any one of them would have treated the BSO with a lot more respect and given lots of wonderful performances, even if Temirkanov hits it out of the park like hardly anyone in history when he's on. A lot of people in the old guard really still hate Alsop. I think she's good in 20th century music and making herculean efforts to solve problems at the BSO that cannot be solved. A lot of the musicians clearly still hate her, and many have left the BSO in droves - the BSO doesn't have the money to replace them. They contracted 94-97 strong under Zinman and have to barely 70 now. Instead was supposed to be Juanjo Mena, whom I would have loved though I'm sure everybody else wouldn't have cared, there was also talk about Tortellier, Roberto Abbado, maybe a few others but definitely a rung down from the options pre-Temirkanov. Alsop was thought of by everybody in the orchestra as a 'hell no' appointment but was installed by a radical non-classical executive who didn't even last two years. I'm one of those who think Glicker showed a lot of foresight in getting Alsop, because the BSO was always on a precipice, might honestly have gone bankrupt already without her, on the other hand, maybe that would have forced them to get their act together. In any event, I hope she leaves in 2021 on good terms. It's been, for all its many many problems, a quite accomplished tenure under adverse circumstances, but personel and attendence is a slow motion crisis Alsop hasn't been able to solve (the former being impossible without the latter). Unless something changes things will get really dire and they get a second chance to really right a ship that hasn't been quite right since Zinman under Stenz or Lintu or Mena (probably already too big for us now...) or whomever else. I dunno what they would try that's different or better, but who knows, a real crisis might refocus the city on the BSO. Nothing else is working...

...and don't get me started on the NSO :)

Lisa Hirsch said...

I've enjoyed Deneve's SFS appearances, which have had quirky programming and lots of charm. St. Louis is a damn good orchestra, imo. Nelsons is certainly the bigger star and that would be why the BSO grabbed him. I wish their contract with him hadn't allowed him to take Leipig.

The BSO fired their PR team? What. the. Fuck.

Re van Zweden, have now heard first 2 Ring recordings and saw him live in Chicago and I am so not impressed.

JEG is a terrific conductor! I love his Schumann set and pretty much everything I've heard him in. Oh, the Troyens DVD is excellent.

I understand how extraordinary the SFS/MTT partnership is, but I am increasingly aware of his flaws as time goes by. One of his flaws is that it can take him an extraordinary amount of time to deal with open principal chairs - years to replace David Herbert at timpani (although Edward Stephan, who took the job a year ago, is AMAZING) and Bill Bennett at oboe; still hasn't replaced Jonathan Fischer at associate principal oboe.

That's horrifying about Temirkanov. Way to build an orchestra! That's also truly terrible about the number of players. The whole BSO story is incredibly sad.

Alsop sounds as though she has in fact been a good appointment, although it is also a truism that women get appointed when things look desperate and then they take the blame for long-term problems. See Marissa Meyer at Yahoo, for example.

You can rant about the NSO, if you like. I don't think Eschenbach is a particularly good conductor, they had...Slatkin? before that, and Rostropovich, who may have been impassioned but...

Lisa Hirsch said...

P. S. What about Runnicles? He's no longer at the BBC Scottish SO, has Deutsch Oper Berlin and the Grand Tetons Festival in the US.

Evan Tucker said...

I wrote another long one before your PS that seems to have been lost on the way.

As for the NSO, it's just not that good an orchestra. Good enough I suppose, but the BSO routinely outplays them for $50000 a year less. Lots of problems with the NSO just phoning it in - like a worse New York Philharmonic........ The core audience seems to me to be the international diplomatic corps that changes every five years. The hall is of course terrible. DC should have the best orchestra in America, I sometimes wonder if it's even in the top 20.

I both deeply respect Eschenbach even if I throw my hands up all the time - his natural talent is on the Barenboim level. He has an absolutely mammoth repertoire there isn't a single performance I've heard from him that doesn't have incredible insights. Both Midgette and Downey dislike him because they require a lot more precision than I do so I never really cared that he wasn't a great technician. But he is precisely the wrong conductor for the kind of big-money jetset Dutoit/Maazel-like career he's cultivated. He should have stayed with some orchestra for 30 years like Barenboim or Gergiev who can translate his weird musicality into real substance. They could have had Ivan Fischer if they tried but they snapped up Eschenbach just before Fischer changed his mind - for a musician who hates American orchestras he threw his hat into the ring a lot around here... But the one lots of people wanted who was passed over was Conlon. They ditched Conlon for an ever-so-slightly larger name who was much more expensive in the hope of selling five more seats. Noseda is very very exciting in many ways, but he's also clearly a bit of a shallow virtuoso - Muti+Gergiev.... He was a good choice, better than Eschenbach, but the choice I heard people really wanted was (drumroll) Runnicles. Who knows why he didn't get it - maybe he didn't want it, but the reviews for his concerts have been rapturous. Like everybody else, I think Runnicles is amazing, one of the best in the world and nobody understands why he isn't bigger than he is. He deserves nothing less than the Met.

Evan Tucker said...

I should probably request you not write about the BSO PR in a post in case you thought about it unless you find another source., It's not really a secret, but I would imagine the paper trail could probably get me in a little trouble. Temirkanov is a drunk, not too surprising from the country that gave us Mussorgsky and Svetlanov but still... I had a conductor in college who studied with him, he said that the 'infamous' month that Temirkanov cancelled 4 weeks of concerts was because he got so drunk he had to go to the hospital.

Zweden is not amazing, but he can be good in a George Szell way - exciting, self-effacing, solid. People make him sound like a tyrant in rehearsal, but who knows, that could be exactly what NY needs, and poaching Borda is obviously the right move. He's a real musician who gets real results, even if he's not the most imaginative sort. I like his Bruckner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, I even like his Wagner.

St Louis is a great band, always has been. Deneve is a very good pick who will broaden the Robertson/Slatkin approach. Deneve has done so much in this country that he's long since deserved a really good orchestra.

Marin's a hero, and a lot of people really love her here in addition to her many detractors. But I worry that if she stays past her current contract, up in four years, she will be ushered out as ignominiously as she was ushered in. Maybe she'll be next in Detroit... She's not brilliant except in the manner of a good movie producer who creates big special events, which she really is exceptional at - hopefully they bring in more money than they cost... Before Mahler, she's generally just dull, and in real meat and potatoes can be worse than dull - I've heard an Eroica in which she ended the opening 15% slower than she began it. But still, I've heard some very good Mahler, Strauss, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and obviously American music... The conductor she most reminds me of is not Lenny but Previn - same love of enormous sounds, brash and lush, it can be very exciting even if it isn't the deepest thing.