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Thread: A Discussion of Living Conductors

  1. #31
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    And then there is the intriguing case of Barbara Hannigan. It isn't that going from singer to conductor is that unique, even that she sometimes does both at the same time, but I am fascinated by her very cautious choice of repertoire outside of the vocal arena - Haydn symphonies, early Schoenberg, Stravinsky, early Ligeti, etc. It is a great shame that her Mahler 4th concert with the Munich Philharmonic, scheduled for last month, was a COVID casualty as it represented an interesting repertoire expansion. Definitely not the predictable career path!

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Among those super star stick wavers of today, Gustavo Dudamel is one of very few who has aroused my interest. To be honest when he first came into the scene, the hype around him gave me a negative impression, but now I think he may be the real deal. His recordings have shown he's less of a showman than I was led to believe. There is something more subtle, musical beyond the spectacle.

    I do think Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the real deal, but he's a bit different from the rest. His sensual Bruckner/Mahler and warm Ravel on records may not have become everybody's favourite, while his otherwise excellent Schumann was messed up by DG's as-usual poor engineering, but he certainly has a unique Nézet-Séguin sound, and I like that very much.

    Vasily Petrenko, Vladimir Jurowski, Daniel Harding and Simon Rattle are some conductors whose records I tend to buy "blind". I like all of V. Petrenko's records that I have listened to, especially his Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and most recently Richard Strauss. I like how musical they sound and there is absolutely no cheap thrill. Jurowski is the more unpredictable maverick, making his records a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, but his Tchaikovsky and Mahler are excellent and his Richard Strauss is different but very interesting. I've been a long-time fan of Harding's records, but it is very much an acquired taste - There is a kind of fluffiness in how his recordings sound, an prominent example being his Mahler 10, which I've grown to love. Well, I suppose Simon Rattle should be (rightly) placed in the super star category. I've found his Mahler, Beethoven, Messiaen, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Sibelius either excellent or very interesting.

    I like the unorthodox soundscapes of the Fischer brothers very much, with Ádám being even more a maverick than Iván. If Iván's Mahler 7 sounds different from the rest (esp. with that "happy" element!), Ádám's M7 sounds absolutely nuts! Love it. And Ádám's Beethoven is also top drawer.

    Neeme Järvi should be credited for doing us a great service by giving us a whole library of underrated/obscure/second line works, even though most music lovers probably would not vote for him as their favourite conductor (although his two conductor sons did in a Gramophone poll years ago). Having said that, his all-rounder Prokofiev cycle remains one of my favourites.

    Herbert Blomstedt is probably the last of the old guards, age wise at least. Is he getting more and more refined as he ages? His recent Mahler 9 recording is magnificent. I wish him a long and healthy life.

    I think Emmanuel Krivine is one of those overly underrated conductors. I first came across his name from the positive reviews of his period Beethoven cycle, which has now become one of my favourites. I'm also very impressed by his heart-on-sleeve Ravel and to a certain extent his Debussy.

    Philippe Herreweghe, Jos van Immerseel and Marc Minkowski are some of my favourite HIP conductors. Have to admit, Herreweghe and Minkowski are a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, but I really like Herreweghe's Antwerp Schumann and Minkowski's Haydn and some of his Schubert. Immerseel's records tend to be more consistent with my taste, especially his Beethoven and, perhaps a surprise, his refreshing Johann Strauss Jr.!

    My most recent "discovery" is Thomas Adès the conductor! His recent Beethoven/Barry record has completely won me over.

    One young conductor that I'm going to follow is Pablo Heras-Casado. I've found his recent Falla disc very impressive.

    And finally, Teodor Currentzis! Everything he touched has become gold IMHO.
    Last edited by Kiki; Jun-03-2020 at 05:32.

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  5. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplicissimus View Post
    I haven’t seen any mention of David Zinman either. I saw him a few times in Baltimore and think he’s solid right through the repertoire.
    I think he's retired. He's certainly retired from the Tonhalle - I listened to his last concert, at the Proms in 2014.

  6. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    Among those super star stick wavers of today, Gustavo Dudamel is one of very few who has aroused my interest. To be honest when he first came into the scene, the hype around him gave me a negative impression, but now I think he may be the real deal. His recordings have shown he's less of a showman than I was led to believe. There is something more subtle, musical beyond the spectacle.

    I do think Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the real deal, but he's a bit different from the rest. His sensual Bruckner/Mahler and warm Ravel on records may not have become everybody's favourite, while his otherwise excellent Schumann was messed up by DG's as-usual poor engineering, but he certainly has a unique Nézet-Séguin sound, and I like that very much.

    Vasily Petrenko, Vladimir Jurowski, Daniel Harding and Simon Rattle are some conductors whose records I tend to buy "blind". I like all of V. Petrenko's records that I have listened to, especially his Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and most recently Richard Strauss. I like how musical they sound and there is absolutely no cheap thrill. Jurowski is the more unpredictable maverick, making his records a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, but his Tchaikovsky and Mahler are excellent and his Richard Strauss is different but very interesting. I've been a long-time fan of Harding's records, but it is very much an acquired taste - There is a kind of fluffiness in how his recordings sound, an prominent example being his Mahler 10, which I've grown to love. Well, I suppose Simon Rattle should be (rightly) placed in the super star category. I've found his Mahler, Beethoven, Messiaen, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Sibelius either excellent or very interesting.

    I like the unorthodox soundscapes of the Fischer brothers very much, with Ádám being even more a maverick than Iván. If Iván's Mahler 7 sounds different from the rest (esp. with that "happy" element!), Ádám's M7 sounds absolutely nuts! Love it. And Ádám's Beethoven is also top drawer.

    Neeme Järvi should be credited for doing us a great service by giving us a whole library of underrated/obscure/second line works, even though most music lovers probably would not vote for him as their favourite conductor (although his two conductor sons did in a Gramophone poll years ago). Having said that, his all-rounder Prokofiev cycle remains one of my favourites.

    Herbert Blomstedt is probably the last of the old guards, age wise at least. Is he getting more and more refined as he ages? His recent Mahler 9 recording is magnificent. I wish him a long and healthy life.

    I think Emmanuel Krivine is one of those overly underrated conductors. I first came across his name from the positive reviews of his period Beethoven cycle, which has now become one of my favourites. I'm also very impressed by his heart-on-sleeve Ravel and to a certain extent his Debussy.

    Philippe Herreweghe, Jos van Immerseel and Marc Minkowski are some of my favourite HIP conductors. Have to admit, Herreweghe and Minkowski are a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, but I really like Herreweghe's Antwerp Schumann and Minkowski's Haydn and some of his Schubert. Immerseel's records tend to be more consistent with my taste, especially his Beethoven and, perhaps a surprise, his refreshing Johann Strauss Jr.!

    My most recent "discovery" is Thomas Adès the conductor! His recent Beethoven/Barry record has completely won me over.

    One young conductor that I'm going to follow is Pablo Heras-Casado. I've found his recent Falla disc very impressive.

    And finally, Teodor Currentzis! Everything he touched has become gold IMHO.
    Agree with quite a lot of this, but count me out when it comes to Rattle. For me his readings are excessively micromanaged, always looking to "do something with" the music instead of bringing out what's already there and letting it speak for itself. The one exception that I've come across is his set of the Beethoven concertos with Brendel and the VPO, and I strongly suspect it's no coincidence that an even longer-established musician had a crucial input into those performances.

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  8. #35
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    I forgot to mention Barenboim, Blomstedt and Haitink....the latter two are certainly getting up there in years, but I've heard fine concerts from them...same with Barenboim...I've heard some very excellent Mahler(7), Bruckner (8) sand Wagner from him....
    Absolutely, I just left Haitink out of my list since he retired last year.

  9. #36
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    I would like to add Ton Koopman, René Jacobs and Trevor Pinnock to my earlier list, as I sort of left out the HIP-po's, as if they don't do a great job on conducting. Each of them is a vivid and energetic conductor has delivered landmark interpretations.

    I also have a particular appreciation for Gabriel Garrido, an Argentinian conductor who recorded a magnificent Monteverdi cycle with his Ensemble Elyma. I don't know if he is still active and if the Ensemble Elyma is still there, it is very difficult to find any information about them. The recordings were released by the equally obscure French 'K617' record label.

    Also, add Francois-Xavier Roth, who is a later day HIP conductor with his own orchestra 'les Siecles'. Heard him doing great things with Mahler and Debussy.

  10. #37
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Agree about Francois-Xavier Roth. He's an excellent conductor, with a lot of imagination and personality.

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  12. #38
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Has there ever been a better Bartok conductor than Ivan Fischer? His Concerto for Orchestra with the Budapest Festival Orchestra is a desert island recording for me. His Mahler 4 is also excellent. Honestly though, now that I’ve thought a bit more I’d have to say my favorite living conductor in terms of consistent quality is J.E. Gardiner. Sure, his very quick, high-powered approach isn’t always to my taste, but he always gets nuance, musicality, and flair out of his players and singers. His Haydn Creation, Brahms German Requiem, Berlioz Fantastique, Mass in B Minor and Bach cantatas, and lots of others are some of my go-to recordings. I can say the exact opposite about his HIP counterpart Herreweghe, who always sounds like he takes very cautious, underpowered, intentionally “tasteful” approaches of music by just casually skating over the surface with excessive polish.

    I don’t understand the Manfred Honeck vibes. To me he is more bombast than soul.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Jun-03-2020 at 13:42.
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Has there ever been a better Bartok conductor than Ivan Fischer? .
    Ever?? Sure, Reiner most definitely, Solti...of course, they are long gone.....

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    Records are a terrible way to judge conductors. Some of them really shine in a live context. Esa-Pekka Salonen is one of them. His discs are fine, but they don't have the intensity he brings live, and they feel much more clinical than they should. Other conductors makes good records, but are deeply disappointing live, when they aren't downright awful.
    On a general note, I think Rattle, Nelsons, Dudamel, Nézet-Séguin, Gilbert and all the so-called "star conductors" of today mediocre at best. They're where they are for political and commercial reasons more than musical ones. Some lesser known conductors are much better.

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    Confining my list to living conductors I've heard here in Cleveland:

    Lintu
    Malkki
    Jurowski
    Welser-Moest (Yeah, I know about the criticisms from the past, but he has become much more energized in the last decade)
    Blomstedt
    Spano (saw him conduct a fine Mahler 5 with the student orchestra from Cleveland Institute of Music)
    Falletta (she conducted the CIM orchestra in Pines/Fountains of Rome, Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphoses)
    Jahja Ling (never gave a bad concert here, and his Mahler 8th was outstanding)
    Wigglesworth (on this list based on his local performances of Mahler 10 and his Shostakovich recordings)

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    Senior Member 20centrfuge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    There's been quite a bit of positive fuss about the young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša. I haven't heard him live, gut the recordings I have heard him in are exceptionally good.
    Yeah, based on this clip alone, he seems amazing!


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  20. #43
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    There often seems to be somewhat of a "knee jerk" reaction to some conductors, e.g. micro-manage for Rattle. It seems to be an easy and immediately dismissive criticism, but while he certainly does do that at times, it certainly isn't a constant truth as demonstrated by some of my blind comparisons. Another classic example of that kind of reaction is HvK, which I will admit to occasionally having done myself!

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  22. #44
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    He must have been there somewhere but I missed him - Teodor Currentzis - have not produced that many records but those he has have been exceptional. I do also think that Vanska deserves a mention even though his way is less tub thumping than subtlety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    There often seems to be somewhat of a "knee jerk" reaction to some conductors, e.g. micro-manage for Rattle. It seems to be an easy and immediately dismissive criticism, but while he certainly does do that at times, it certainly isn't a constant truth as demonstrated by some of my blind comparisons. Another classic example of that kind of reaction is HvK, which I will admit to occasionally having done myself!
    What makes you call that a "knee jerk", Becca? I have probably used those words about a lot of his earlier work but the words were borne of disappointment after trying hard to get on with the highly recommended discs I had purchased.

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