Monday, 9 February 2015

Rattle Sibelius Barbican LIVE plus Conductor Chess

Simon Rattle at the Barbican this week, conducting the Brerlin Philharmonic in all the Sibelius symphonies.  Tickets sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. Luckily, the concerts  will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 HERE HERE and HERE.  Rattle has been conducting Sibelius since early days at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He's good. With the  Berliners, he has an orchestra that did Sibelius with Karajan.  Enjoy! This is what the BBC does well and best. Long may this commitment to quality outlast current fashion. You can also listen to Rattle and the band doing Sibelius on the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall.

On Saturday night, Rattle and the Berliners  do Mahler Symphony no 2 and Helmut Lachenmann's spectacular Tableau,  "a short, intense work which uses a huge conventional orchestra to unconventional ends. It's a perfect foil to the Mahler, a typical Rattle juxtaposition designed to make an audience sit up and think."  You bet!  This will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 HERE

Rattle  was the wildly charismatic whizz who turned the CBSO from a small-town band to one of the great orchestras in this country. The CBSO has aince become a springboard for Sakari Oramo and for Andris Nelsons, Edward Garner regularly works there too. What the Berliners needed when they chose Rattle in 2002 was a man who could develop the orchestra's profile. Obviously it was a superlative orchestra, and still is, but Rattle opened things out in other directions, helping to usher in the Berliner Philharmoniker we have today, with its international focus and adventurous programming.  There's a lot more to conducting than waving a stick.

After the Berliner Philharmoniker, there are no further peaks to conquer. Rumour has it that Rattle will take over at the Londoin Symphony Orchestra, where he's much loved. The band isn't as stellar as the band in Berlin, but Rattle's job would be to grow the LSO and the Barbican. In a way, back to his roots. Speaking of roots, the photo shows Rattle when his hair was dark - that's a natural Afro!

This week Alan Gilbert suddenly announced that he'll quit the New York Philharmonic. I don't know the inside story and I won't make wild guesses as to who might replace him.  Gilbert has conducted the Berlin Phil almost as many times as Dudamel, who Rattle took on as a protégé right from the start, and is bankable, if not musically demanding.  Soneone's got to pay the bills! Orchestras do not choose chief conductors on a whim. Any really significant orchestra (and its board) has some kind of vision for the future. and looks for a good fit.

Conductor chess is a game of skill, and genuine knowledge. I've discussed the Berlin succession before (follow my label Conductor Chess below and on the right)  Always, always, ask the questions first before speculating on answers. Where does the Berlin Philharmoniker want to go in 10 or 15 years.  Does the NY Phil want to go backwards or forwards.  As for Alan Gilbert, I hope he'll return to Europe  where his musical interests seem to lie.  There are huge differences between the US and Europe in terms of music, culture and audiences. Europe is the biggest pond of all, in which the biggest fish swim. That said, I don't think Gilbert will get Berlin, but there are other jobs coming up soon.


NPW-Paris said...

Would you believe I first saw Rattle when he was conducting the Merseyside Youth Orchestra, ironically at Birmingham Town Hall?

Doundou Tchil said...

Wow, You've had such an interesting life, Nigel !

NPW-Paris said...

Mmmm... well, long.