Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bad week for child prodigies & jet set maestros

The excellent ionarts reports 'Teenage composer Jay Greenberg's honeymoon with the press is over' and links to my recent article. While Anthony Holden's Observer review today suggests jet set maestro Valery Gergiev's honeymoon with the London press was over before it even started.

Bag-eyed, straggle-haired and in his usual hurry, he finally made his much-heralded, once-postponed entrance. On giant screens to each side of the stage, a 'new era' was proclaimed by the London Symphony Orchestra as the dynamic Russian maestro Valery Gergiev (picture above) finally embarked on his new role as its chief conductor.

Had he surrendered even one of his half-dozen other jobs to give this lustrous appointment the attention that is its due, he might well have been hailed as a thrilling catch for one of the world's finest orchestras - lending it a commercial glamour it has not known since the days of Andre Previn, with a heft worthy of the successor to
Colin Davis. As it is, the honeymoon somehow felt over before the marriage had even begun.

Now the LSO's president, Davis (photo below) will still be spending as many weeks per year with the orchestra, to the point of leading it on overseas tours, as Gergiev is scheduled to conduct concerts. Will his reputation for haste and lateness, not to mention workaholic indisposition, see bass player Michael Francis constantly stepping in to lead rehearsals, even concerts, as in Russia last year and at the BBC's recent
Gubaidulina weekend? Will Gergiev really steward the LSO's continuing evolution, as is surely his job description, or merely drop in from time to time to give us the odd Slavic thrill?

If his debut had been a football match, it would have been deemed a concert of two halves. The first was loud, garish and nothing if not boldly original; the second was contrastingly trad, user-friendly and several notches classier. Gergiev will have to pull off the latter act in a wider range of repertoire to convince the doubters that he is more than merely the dreamchild of the
LSO's marketing department.

Read the full Observer review here. And learn more about jet setting in the Vienna Philharmonic in perpetual motion
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