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12.4.07

Iván Fischer at the Helm of the NSO. (For Now)

Iván FischerEarlier today, the National Symphony Orchestra has announced that, effective the 2008-2009 season, Iván Fischer will be Principal Conductor of the NSO. For "the 2008-9 season – formerly the third year of his contract as Principal Guest Conductor – Maestro Fischer will spend eight weeks with the NSO, including five weeks on the Orchestra’s classical subscription series. The following season he will spend seven weeks with the NSO, six of which will be on the subscription season. In addition, during those two years, he will lead the American Residencies and any other potential tours. He will also advise the Orchestra on overall artistic issues."

"The National Symphony’s fifth music director, Leonard Slatkin, will step down at the end of the 2007-8 season. Maestro Fischer’s term as Principal Conductor runs through the 2009-10 season. During that time the music director search will be ongoing."

This is doubly wonderful news, because it means that Mr. Fischer, a boon to the NSO, will be more involved with the orchestra -- while the NSO has a comfortable amount of time to look for a new Music Director that fits the job perfectly. It is an approach that Chicago has chosen, too (with Haitink and Boulez as the über-qualified place-holders for - presumably - David Robertson [Ed.: Riccardo Muti) and the NSO has ingeniously bought itself the necessary time to find the conductor that will lead the NSO to the next level. As a luxury-interim solution, they could hardly have done better than Fischer... and we have two more years for delicious speculation who might be the next NSO MD.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I know that you favor Conlon, but let me make a shrewd proposal: Miguel Harth-Bedoya. He gave excellent concerts both with the NSO and the Baltimore Symphony. What I like about his conducting is that he's not afraid to "let go" - remember the finale of the Tchaikovsky concerto with Sonnenberg for example? - even if this may have a price in the fact that he sometimes lets the brass cover the orchestra. Plus he proved that he can make an orchestra grow: he's basically doing the same thing in Forth-Worth that Comissiona did in Baltimore: make the orchestra grow both in size and in budget, make it an year-round band, and increase the number of subscriptions. So the fund-raising issue is covered, plus he got to learn the trade with a smaller band. And yes, he still needs a bit to grow but so does the NSO. And then there's the repertory that he will program: Golijov, Chavez, Revueltas, and he's no stranger to contemporary works.

Charles T. Downey said...

Here's an added wrinkle. According to Tim Page, Fischer actually turned down the NSO's offer to be Music Director, in favor of remaining at the head of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Hungary.

So, let's rephrase the question. Who might actually want to be the next Music Director of the NSO?

jfl said...

*Want* and *get* are two different things, indeed. The NSO post is not all that attractive... there are many more important positions to be had in the U.S., and there are places that can spend more money on that position...

...but neither the NSO MD position something to scoff at. As any great conductor will show, it's what you make of it. Salonen/LAPhil, Zinman/B'more and Zinman/Zurich, Vanska/MN (which has a great history, admittedly), Judd/Florida (not that we want to end up in the same situation, of course).

As long as we get someone with name recognition (unfortunately that's a *must* in this town) *and* someone who takes it seriously and as his no.1 priority, we should do fine. I enjoyed what M. Harth-Bedoya did... but he had not yet crossed my mind.

I think the association with Fischer is great and this solution better than had he taken the job. Who knows, maybe I'll even warm up to Deneve... watching his DVD of the Love for Three Oranges helped, certainly. (What a glorious performance in every single aspect!)

jfl

Charles T. Downey said...

As you say, the undesirable aspects of the position will probably mean that either a rising junior star (Denève, Harth-Bedoya) or an older but lesser name (say, Richard Hickox) will be the solution. The risk will be how young and inexperienced a conductor the NSO might choose. Will the L.A. Phil eventually regret the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel?

Denève has done interesting programs with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, not least a concert performance of Pelléas with Laurent Naouri and Natalie Dessay singing her first-ever Mélisande. The reportedly near-empty houses for his work there may help push him to look for another position.

Has the name of Jiří Bělohlávek occurred to anyone else? His contract with the BBC SO lasts through 2009, I think. Something to ponder when he leads the NSO this coming week...

jfl said...

I still think the candidate would ideally be a native English speaker, preferably American... at least comfortable with fundraising. LA didn't regret Salonen when they made him their young conductor 17 years ago... when he was only 31. We'll see - but he's hot right now, he's with the same record company (DG), and every great conductor attests him incredible talent.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer a rising star which would bring energy and enthusiasm. And besides the track record in the history is encouraging: Mengelberg, Stokowski, Bernstein, Salonen, Haitink (true, Jochum was co-dirrector for a few years but he was still young when he assumed Concertgebouw directorship), even Celibidache - he did miracles with the BPO in the postwar years before handing the orchestra back to Furtwangler.