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News: Alan Gilbert Goes to Hamburg

Alan Gilbert. Thinking deeply. Photo © Michael Avedon When Alan Gilbert was named the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in July of 2007, the classical music world did its best impression of one of those cartoon-double takes and a Tim Allen grunt. The New York Phil had courted Riccardo Muti to continue to lead them out of their era gerontology (Kurt Masur 1991-2002 and Lorin Maazel 2002-2009), one of the biggest names in the industry (if hardly a guarantee for excitement) and therefore a conductor the New York Philharmonic will have deemed fitting to lead it. After all, the band – despite decades of delivering little more than civilized torpor, considers itself one of the great, select few orchestras in the world. Then, rather suddenly, Muti – openly coy about taking another engagement in the US after his 12 years in Philadelpha – opted to become the new music director of the Chicago Symphony, a direct rival of the New York Philharmonic (to the extent that rivals can really exist in this business). Ouch. And as everyone was looking how the New York Phil was going to scramble to come with as big a name possible to wash away the stain of embarrassment, they announced, eventually, that Alan Gilbert would be their next guy. Alan Who?...

The full article can be read on

New York-Hamburg: Alan Gilbert's New Orchestra And His Architectural Upgrade


Evan Tucker said...

I obviously never heard NDR and Hengelbrock live, but I've been incredibly enthused by what I've heard by recording and video and I'm kind of shocked he's leaving. Is there any sense of what he's doing next?

jfl said...

I've not shared the same sense of enthusement, but I've not heard as much. In particular I've not yet heard his Mahler "Hamburg-almost-Titan" First Symphony, which looks interesting. In concert I've found him fine but also irritating... he can program very well but doesn't strike me as a superb conductor. (Think Liebreich, Poppen et al.)

I've not heard anything of his next stop; it will be interesting to see if he continues in the 'mainstream' and tries to be a latter-day Norrington (we need one; I loved what Norrington did) or whether he focuses more on the HIP world for a while.