Risks worth taking ...

His energy has not always endeared him to orchestras or critics, some of whom equate his jet-setting lifestyle with a shallowness of preparation. Stories are legion of Gergiev turning up hours late to rehearsals, giving interviews during concert intervals and holding up the second half, and cutting his schedules so fine that they give orchestral managers panic attacks. I have heard Gergiev give concerts where he has fallen off the musical cliff-edge he creates: a performance of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto with Alexander Toradze that was sometimes hilariously out of kilter, as if pianist, conductor and orchestra had never met, let alone rehearsed. These are the downsides of the risks Gergiev takes; but when the magic works - as it does so much of the time - they are risks worth taking.

From Tom Service's interview with Valery Gergiev in today's Guardian. Gergiev is artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and principal guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He also has a close association with the Vienna Philharmonic - and, from 2007, will be the new chief of the London Symphony Orchestra . . .

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