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Reports: Gergiev’s move to Munich is ‘done deal’

Both the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Bayerische Rundfunk website are firming up earlier reports that Valery Gergiev will become chief conductor of the  Munich Philharmonic in 2015. All the deal needs is city council approval, and that is hardly likely to be withheld.

Slipped Disc is treating these excitements with circumspection. If Berlin’s in the reckoning, why shack up with Munich? Unless it’s a two-year warm-up for the Rattle job. The only source for these reports so far is Munich’s cultural concillor, Hans-Georg Küppers.

We’re trying to reach Valery’s people for confirmation. Will keep you posted.


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  1. I wonder if Maestro will turn up to more rehearsals than he does in London?

  2. Wonder if he’s going to dump the LSO. And what do they think?

  3. christophe says:

    Lets look at the positives:

    Gergiev is the most dynamic conductor today with an original vision for making music. I have never heard sforzandi like he gets out of an orchestra. He finds the magic moments unlike anyone. I had the unique experience to play a concert he conducted. It is true his technique is rather intimidating. But so was Furtwängler’s! But it kept ALL of us on the edge of our seats and we listened and played better than we ever did, as if under a spell. He is a great humanitarian, regardless of what some people might think about his politics. And he will keep Munich the great music capital it is. People speak as if the Berlin Philharmonic is and will always be the greatest orchestra. They are great. But the truth is Munich has always had their fair share of great and eccentric conductors. And they pay the highest wages. I see this as a win for Munich. First they get Guardiola. Now they get Gergiev. As far as Im concerned, London better up the ante if they want Gergiev to stay.

    • We don’t up the ante in London, as many maestros have discovered to their dismay.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        I am not a big fan of Gergiev. Therefore, I have forced myself to watch the complete Tchaikovsky Symphonies recorded in 2010 with the Marinsky Orchestra on tour (featuring spectacular camera work and excellent audio balance and sound quality). There is real chemistry there and for the most part, the performances are excellent. Then I watched him do a very recent performance with the LSO (Fall 2012, I think), Kovakos as soloist. The first half was Szymanowski and was generally quite good, especially the concerto with the take-charge Kovakos (who now looks more like Rasputin than even Depardieu!). Then came Brahms 4…OMG…I was totally underwhelmed and did not listen to the end.

        The LSO is an excellent band but I don’t see the belief and trust that is apparent among the younger, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Marinskys, most of whom he has apparently selected personally. His rehearsals seem disorganized but he speaks lovingly to the young solo players using images and non-musical comparisons to get his point across, while asking at one point, “what is tonight’s program” (the rehearsal was on the day of the concert). His English is good enough and he has a command in interviews that is both convincing and poetic. He seems like a real media animal.

        All that said, IMHO, he doesn’t have the command of a broad repertoire to become the leader of a great international orchestra like the Berlin, the Concertgebouw, or the Chicago Symphony. He is an authentic musical personality who, in spite of his totally bizarre technique, can occasionally inspire remarkable music making. Yes, Furtwangler and especially Koussevitsky come to mind.

        If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend the first half of the Berlin Phil New Year’s concert (Dec. 31, 2012) with suites of dances by Rameau, and Handel arias sung by Bartoli, two of which featured brilliantly played instrumental solos (oboe in one, and then oboe and trumpet together in another). Does it get any better than that? (rhetorical question, no need clogging the blog with answers, LOL). Sir Simon has seldom appeared more at ease and natural. The second half, ending with Daphnis Suite 2, was fine but not wonderful.

        Finally, there is an interesting novel by Sarkozy’s former Minister of Agriculture, Bruno Le Maire, titled “Musique absolue, une répétition avec Carlos Kleiber” (published by NRF/Gallimard) available only in French for the moment. It mixes fact with fiction, but gives an impressive portrait of one of the great conductors of recent history through the eyes of one of his players from the Stuttgart days. (There is a video circulating from that period of a rehearsal and performance of Die Fledermaus Overture with Stuttgart which is revelatory).

        • There is also a similar video with Freischütz and a good documentary called “Traces to Nowhere”. If you want to find out more about Carlos Kleiber, you don’t have to rely on a semi-fictional novel, there is actually a very good biography available now

          which is packed with well-researched facts and testimony from countless orchestral musicians, singers, managers, friends, colleagues and others who worked with or knew him.

          As for Gergiev, I haven’t heard him much in “Germanic” repertoire so I don’t have a real opinion about that, but it appears to me that for many – not just you – it seems a foregone conclusion that he just can’t be good in that area, a foregone conclusion perhaps based on many of the same nationalist stereotypes that were unloaded by many contributors in the recent “who will succeed Rattle” discussion, and perhaps “confirmed” by a very occasional sampling of him performing a work from that canon, or in your case, just a portion of a work.

          I recently heard a live recording though with the LSO of Brahms 3 and the Haydn Variations and that was actually very convincing and engaging, especially the symphony. Very lyrical, very flexible, with a good feel for fine nuances as well as the overall dramatic arch, particularly impressive the moments of awed stillness in the slow movement, something I really hadn’t expected the ever restless and high-tension Gergiev to do so well. The freely breathing flexibility with which he conducts is actually a great plus in this kind of repertoire, and the LSO followed him very well and delivered some stylish and engaged playing.
          So I wouldn’t just write him off only because he doesn’t fit the clichés about what a conductor of that repertoire “should” be like.

          After hearing this, I would actually really like to hear him with, for instance, Brahms with the MP. I was one of the first to say that it was a bad idea to hire him in Munich because they just bought a big name. But maybe I was wrong – it all depends less on his musical abilities than on whether he decides to actually spend some time there and work with the orchestra beyond just flying in and improvising the concert.

    • itrinkkeinwein says:

      Christophe is right. Berlin is not necessarily the music capital of Germany.

      He is also right about a “finis” for the LSO relationship.

      And Robert is right about the weaknesses of Gergiev in various corners of the repertory.

      But the appointment is a helluva fix just *four months* into Lorin’s tenure, which, contrary to one report, was never announced as “temporary”; rather it has been speedily identified as a failure.

      • itrinkkeinwein says:
        January 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        “Christophe is right. Berlin is not necessarily the music capital of Germany.”

        With 4 large full-time orchestras and 3 opera houses, when it comes to “classical” music, it certainly is. Of course, the quality of concerts and opera performances fluctuates, and just because there are more than anywhere else, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are always very good. But that applies to every city.

      • Lord Montague says:

        “Berlin as musical capital” argument is a straw man argument. Berlin never was or claimed to be the music capital of Germany. Maybe a few of the usual musically challenged from the writing guild said so. But who cares.
        Music knows no capital in geography. Music’s capital is in the musical mind.

  4. Novagerio says:

    What has happened to Lorin Maazel?

  5. Lorin keeps busy. He is too old for the gig.

  6. dlcello59 says:

    Maazel to Boston as music director? any thoughts? outside chance but not impossible I think

    • A really stupid idea. The BSO has suffered greatly from the failed MDship of Levine who had to cancel more often than he actually showed up because of his health problems. Maazel is very fit for his age, and may he have many more years to come, but what the BSO now needs is someone they can really build a long term relationship with, ad he is simply too old for that. It’s sad that US orchestras either obsess about buying some big old name like Muti in Chicago who hadn’t had much of a relationship with the orchestra and who now, unfortunately, has ongoing health problems as well, or some hot new super star with great hair. While there are quite a few highly competent but less flashy or grand conductors around. I think it’s a shame none of the so-called major orchestras has hired Robert Spano yet, he is one of the best American conductors currently active. But he doesn’t have great hair nor is a grand old name from Europe.

      • christophe says:

        Axelrod is a great American conductor in Europe, went to Harvard and has Boston roots and has great hair. He’s also an excellent musician. But I agree Spano is underrated.

  7. Gergiev is very variable. I have heard amazing things with the LSO however the Tchaikovsky 5 I heard recently was one of the worst concerts I have ever attended and since then I decided there are other conductors I would prefer to hear. Would love someone new at the LSO – petrenko, nelsons, sokhiev, seguin ….

    • buff, lucky londoners, if you have gergiev as music director, still complaining…
      munich phil, this is the series: celibidache, levine, thielemann, maazel, gergiev…
      any orchestra in the world doing better in regards of their music directors?

      • Lord Montague says:

        Yet since Celi’s death they are stagnant or even declining…

        Big Names are like talent. Without hard work, they mean nothing in music. (But everything in marketing).

        I hope Munich has made a contract with Gergiev, that forces him to a reasonable minimum presence and rehearsal time with the orchestra.

  8. Elizabeth Owen says:

    I still don’t understand why he can’t conduct LSO and Munich. Their seasons don’t clash and it’s only a mere hop skip and a jump away in his terms.

    • That’s true Elizabeth. When the focus in on a young conductor, two or even three MD or principal conductor position in different continents seems Okays, for some people sound even right (Modern times, they say). Someone cannot stand for Gergiev interpretation at all and it is fair, but don’t say it is impossible to be on these positions during a very same season. It is a recently fashion, and iassuming this position could wreck the whole excuse. Besides it, there is direct fly from London to Munich taking just 1 hour, then 3 hours to San petersburg. There are no commercial direct fly from LA to Gothenburg, and even though it takes no less than 10 hours each leg.

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