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Tanglewood replaces three conductors in a weekend. Is this a record?

Aside from Andris Nelsons, who is concussed in a Bavarian hospital and will be depped by Carlo Montanaro (pictured), the festival has lost Friday and Sunday conductor Christoph Eschenbach to an inner-ear infection.



His Friday stand-in maestro is Edo de Waart, with Garrick Ohlsson taking Eschenbach’s other role as pianist. Sunday afternoon will feature former BSO Assistant Conductor and current Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot. Is this a record number of conductor changes in one weekend?

Oh, and will Eschy be fit to handle the Mozart-Da Ponte triptych at Salzburg?


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  1. Kenneth Zammit Tabona says:

    Goodness! In Malta we have a tradition called TBAHHIR which they say is of North African origin but somehow got entangled (as things do) with Malta’s Catholicism. It consists of an old crone, holding a large pan in which the olive leaves of the previous Palm Sunday are burnt; going about the house chanting weird incantations against the Evil Eye. It’s very smoky and I remember my grandmother’s cook doing it regularly while Granny (who was half English) was pretending that ‘nothing was happening’. and It works ‘like a charm’ in the true sense of the word. Maybe Tanglewood should adopt it?

    • “In Malta WE have a tradition” : Kenneth, speak for yourself! That is very ancient and has been rare for many generations.

  2. Nina Micheltor says:

    We may be in for another conductor change after the BSO has a first rehearsal with Montanaro… (unless they are in the “it’s Verdi, he is Italian, so all must be right” mood).
    Apparently these days, as long as you have a good CV all is fine… what about checking how someone actually did in those places?
    It’s sad to see the BSO reaching such a low moment;
    And to think that there are still people complaining about the Leinsdorf years there…

    • Michael Chen says:

      So I take it that you know of this substitute Verdi conductor and his work elsewhere and it is not up to standard?

    • Nina, how many choices do you think they had on such short notice? Particularly since it would have to be someone who already has legal residency or a work visa for the US as well as experience following opera singers in performance (not at all the same as purely symphonic work, as we know).

      I’m sure there are a bunch of talented and inexperienced young conductors who’d love such a break, but I’m not sure we can blame the BSO for engaging someone who has documented upper-level experience if he’s available on short notice.

      (Also, for all we know, this could be a matter of doing someone else’s agent a favor.)

  3. Paul van Nieuwkerk says:

    Nina Micheltor: Alone the fact you do not know such outstanding conductors as Carlo Montanaro, Edo de Waart and Ludovic Morlot says enough !

    • Nina Micheltor says:

      Paul, my lines were just about Montanaro, of whom I have had direct experiences in more than one occasion, and I also know many colleagues who share my point of view.
      To reply to your insinuations, it’s exactly because I know conductors like de Waart that I wrote what I wrote and I can easily spot the odd man out.

  4. It’s the BSO. They will give a good concert.
    How can they not? They are the BSO.

  5. Hey everyone — it’s summer. Lighten up and bring ur bug spray.

  6. NSO Insider says:

    Maestro Eschenbach is fit and well, he has no ear infection whatsoever. The truth of the matter he is disappointed that the BSO didn’t choose him as their MD. He sees his job at the NSO Washington as a step down after his failure with the Philly Orchestra therefore calculated his “comeback” to the very top hoping to snatch the BSO post. No but No………….Currently the Maestro is sitting in the rehearsal room in Salzburg with Sven Eric Bechtolf preparing for their Cosi fan Tutte staging rehearsals. Eschenbach had planned to cancel his Tanglewood appearances when Pereira agreed to engage him to replace Franzie. As Eschenbach has an upcoming 2,5 half week stint with the Australian Youth Orchestra starting August, Pereira wouldn’t have agreed to engage him had he not come to Salzburg to attend parts of the staging rehearsals.

    • thank you! Isn’t that ever-so-slightly dishonest of him to cancel so late?

    • Was Eschenbach ever even in the running for the BSO job? Had they ever engaged him as a guest conductor?

    • Steven Honigberg says:

      I have a hard time believing the post from “NSO Insider” and challenge him/her on it. I’m in the NSO and I sense that Eschenbach is proud of his position with this orchestra. Not only is he doing very well in his conducting weeks, he manages other festivals at the Kennedy Center as well. You are not supposed to travel with any kind of ear infection and it is my guess that he is precisely taking this precaution.

  7. NSO Insider says:

    You know well this business, dear Mr. Lebrecht!

  8. Superstitious Artists are sometimes the Best Artists: especially in Germany, where the ENTIRE country is color-coded and Number-Coded, with special Meanings given to anything involving 7, 8, 9, 3, 5, 6, 2, or the colors black, white (weiss), red (rot), yellow (GELB!!!), pink (rose), blue (BLAU), and most especially green (gruen).

  9. I think that the fact that Eschenbach is not conducting the BSO in Tanglewood is no big deal and certainly no loss to neither to the BSO nor the Tanglewood audience. Sorry to say this but I personally find Eschenbach among the most irritating, self indulgent and weird conductors that I have ever heard. I have sat through many Ravinia performances under his direction and was driven to frustration by his manipulating everything and pulling and twisting everything in the most superficial way possible. Some may say that he is “interesting”. I would say a self centered, self indulgent egoist and nothing more. How everyone can not see through the superficiality of his “art” astounds me. Ear infection or not, whatever the orchestra and the audience will get, will certainly be better, or at least more sincere.

  10. Cassandra Riis says:

    Did they ask James Levine? I’ll bet he would have done fabulously with Verdi! And the singers would have loved him, too!!!

  11. I find it hard to put much stock in comments by “NSO insider.” Eschenbach is one of the most honest and genuine musicians that walk this planet. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about his musical interpretations; however this is a true “mensch.” He is one of the most highly principled humans I have ever had the privilege to work with (for a decade, in the Houston Symphony).

    Most likely, he would not want to take the podium or stage–especially at Tanglewood- if his hearing was anything but at its peak. And if he was to perform and conduct from the piano, being able to HEAR himself as well as the orchestra is a bit crucial. I wish him a speedy recovery from the ear infection.

  12. Why all the fuss? Outdoor concerts are like Arena League Football, a pale substitute fill time until the real season begins. Heat, insects, and lousy acoustics: that’s three strikes (to mix metaphors). Why anyone would want to sit through these things, let alone fret over who takes the stand, I can’t understand.

    • Mark Fishman says:

      Heat, fine, no argument — although in the Berkshires at night it’s often quite cool; insects, fine, no argument — although the birds at Tanglewood eat many, if not most, of them; buit acoustics: have you ever actually been INSIDE the Shed? It has an open back and half the side walls, but it’s hardly “outdoors”, it has fabulous bass support, the sound off the stage has great clarity, imaging, and impact, and the sight lines are very good from most seats.

      I’ll stay home and listen to the radio rather than sit on the lawn, but I’m the kind of person who hates the beach, too. If you have seats in the Shed, of course you should care who is performing.

      • Indeed. The sound in the shed for Dalayman and Terfel last weekend (Die Walkure 3rd Act) was spectacular. Lothar Koenigs did a wonderful job exploiting the terrific BSO brass section and running a tight, powerful ship.

      • The outdoor venues for classical music to which I have been have all acoustically stunk. Haven’t been to Tanglewood so I will have to take your word on that one. Hearing concerts at Symphony Hall, as I presume you do, I would think your standards would be unapproachably high.

  13. Barbara Ruggeri says:

    To Norman and all Slipped Disc readers:

    [redacted] I don’t think the linked report can be trusted

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