Thursday, December 18, 2008

Double-dipping Mahler


Here we go again. New York Philharmonic trombonist David Finlayson plays Mahler under Gilbert Kaplan, a Wall Street billionaire and orchestra donor. Mr Finlayson does not like Mr Kaplan's technique, so savages him in his blog. The knees jerk in agreement. We are not told whether Mr Finlayson returned his fee.

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10 comments:

Marc said...

I don't understand your criticism of Finlayson. Should he not voice his criticism in public? Should he have made his public criticism of Kaplan by playing poorly for him, and ruining the symphony? Is he not supposed to have musical knowledge of his own, and to base opinions on that knowledge? Why should he give back his fee?

Pliable said...

Marc, at no point did I say that David Finlayson should not voice his criticism in public.

But Gilbert Kaplan has been conducting this Mahler symphony for 26 years. I am sure that everyone at the NYP, including Mr Finlayson, knew before this concert, as I did, that Kaplan is not a full-time professional conductor, and that his ability to pursue his hobby of conducting leading orchestras is not totally unrelated to his wealth. Kaplan's prowess, or otherwise, can easily be guaged by the two commercial recordings he has made of Mahler 2.

In these circumstances it seems rather disingeneous to accept the booking, take the fee, then publicly express surprise at Kaplan's shortcomings, and brand him an 'impostor'.

sfmike said...

Dear Pliable: You seem to be comparing apples and oranges here. I don't think the New York Philharmonic is a freelance orchestra where individuals (other than soloists) accept bookings/fees or not. If you're a member of the orchestra, you play for whoever the management of the orchestra says you play for, which in this case seems to have pissed quite a few players off, quite justifiably. Writing about it from the inside as Finlayson does seems to be more a case of courageous indiscretion.

Pliable said...

Mike, my discomfort is that this 'courageous indiscretion' is also part of a growing trend in classical music to have your cake (or apples or oranges), eat it, and then blog about the experience in disparaging terms.

Personally, I would also like to read about some people who declined the cake.

But I guess I'm just a hopeless idealist.

Pliable said...

Email received:

Ah, well.To paraphrase Richard Strauss, "never look at the trombones. It only encourages them!"

Cheers

David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

Interesting viewpoint here -
http://rgable.typepad.com/aworks/2008/12/symphony-no-2-gustav-mahler-as-conducted-by-an-american-amateur.html

Pliable said...

And - 'if you don't like Kaplan, don't take his cash. And if you let him conduct your orchestra, make sure the players who get paid to play for (with, whatever) the guy are professional enough not to slam him on their blogs'.

http://operachic.typepad.com/opera_chic/2008/12/the-trombone-doesnt-like-the-conductor.html

Pliable said...

Could this be the first time ever that Norman Lebrecht and I agree? -

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2008/12/the_player_who_forgot_his_plac.html

Pliable said...

More light, as opposed to heat, here:

http://www.nightafternight.com/night_after_night/2008/12/todtenfubar.html

airlockben said...

Pliable--

I'm grateful to hear your voice on all of this, and thanks for all the extra reading. The morning after the concert we interviewed Mr. Kaplan (on audiovideo.economist.com), and I'm writing a small follow-up piece. All of this information is extremely useful, and bravo to stating your argument in what has been a sea of one-sided blogging.