Last year's planned Cleveland Orchestra Proms appearances were binned as agreement couldn't be reached with their musicians union on the fees for webcasts of the concerts.
This year's performances of Mahler's 3rd Symphony (right) and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis went ahead last week, and the orchestra became the only major US orchestra to appear this season. But somewhere a God was angry as two of the soloists for the Beethoven fell ill, and then the Royal Albert Hall's air-conditioning failed leaving the audience sweltering in truly biblical heat.
The problems didn't end there. The Cleveland musicians union contract now only allows live internet streaming - not delayed streams. So the two concerts can't be reprised on BBC Radio 3's Listen again service if you missed them first time round. But they will be broadcast in the US by WCLV, WCPN and WKSU in September
The irony is that the two Cleveland concerts were two of the least memorable of the season. Nothing dreadfully bad, but equally nothing outstanding. Music Director Franz Welser-Möst didn't overwhelm London audiences during his period with the London Philharmonic in the 90's, and I'm afraid he didn't overwhelm this time either. (During his period with the LPO Franz Welser-Möst earned the nick-name 'frankly worst than most' from the rank and file players. However an incandescent Meistersingers with the Zurich Opera in London last June indicated that the 39 year was maturing into a conductor of stature.)
In Tuesday's Mahler 3 the last movement was drawn-out to the point where the musical thread was in danger of breaking. The Beethoven Missa Solemnis the following night just seemed a strange programming choice for a touring orchestra with an itinerant choir, and when musicologists ares changing the way we think about, and play, the work. It came over as a good try in the circumstances. But given the overall quality of Proms performances this year (particularly from the new wave of 'pick-up' bands) that just wasn't enough.
Memo to Cleveland Orchestra management. Webcast repeat fees aren't as important as performance quality. Remember that shit happens in the real world, and don't programme two blockbuster choral works on successive nights when touring thousands of miles from home. And the next time you play the Albert Hall bring a supply of portable aircon units.
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