Today’s Guardian positively salivates over the news that Esa-Pekka Salonen (left) is taking over as principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London from Christoph von Dohnanyi. Martin Kettle gushes that “in this new battle of the batons the only certain winners look likely to be the London music public, who can look forward to an orchestral life of a quality and diversity with which no other city can compete … Salonen’s wide-ranging, non-traditional approach makes him the closest thing any London orchestra could have found to Sir Simon Rattle. Short of tempting Rattle back from the Berlin Philharmonic, it is hard to think of a more exciting appointment for the Philharmonia to have made”. But slipped in among the purple prose are the key words that Salonen “will remain in charge in Los Angeles when he takes over the Philharmonia.”
Now if we leave aside the fact that some of the Berlin press may well have wished that Rattle had been tempted back from Berlin, we will soon have the Philharmonia headed by a conductor with one foot in London and one in the West Coast, and the London Symphony headed by Valery Gergiev, who will have one foot in London, one in Rotterdam, and his heart in St Petersburg. Shuffle Maestros may well appeal to iPod audiences, but there are many who would have welcomed an appointment by the Philharmonia in the style of Jonathan Nott at the Bamberg Symphony. This talented young conductor has raised an unknown band to world-class quality by working in the old Kappelmeister tradition, and keeping both feet, and his heart, firmly anchored in provincial Germany.
For more on shuffle maestros follow An Overgrown Path to Vienna Philharmonic in perpetual motion
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