According to a report by Daniel Wakin in The New York Times on Wednesday, Lorin Maazel raised eyebrows at a Tuesday afternoon press luncheon for the new Symphonica Toscanini when, apparently unprompted, he announced that he had informed the New York Philharmonic board that Daniel Barenboim is the right man to succeed him when he steps down in 2009. Maazel reportedly likened his suggestion to giving a daughter away in marriage.
This would be the same Daniel Barenboim who stated, when he left the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, that he had neither the time nor the energy to fulfill the many non-musical demands -- flesh-pressing and fundraising, one presumes -- that an American maestro is expected to undertake. Barenboim's response came a bit later in the International Herald Tribune, reported by Mark Landler: "Nothing could be further from my thoughts at the moment than the possibility of returning to the United States for a permanent position." But he also provided room for pondering: "Nobody has offered me the job, so why should I say yes or no?"
So, in addition to the anticipation fluttering around the extended guest appearances of Riccardo Muti, David Robertson and Alan Gilbert this season, should we now assume that there is a dark horse in the running? Oy. Actually, Robertson's probably still out of the running, since he's extended his contract with the St. Louis Symphony through 2010. But still...
Almost as curious, if not yet so widely discussed, is a short item that appears on page 10 of the December 2006 issue of Gramophone. The article, "Who next for Philadelphia after Eschenbach?," appears without a byline. After a short summary of the events that led to Eschenbach's impending departure, there appears a shortlist of potential heirs apparent.
The magazine preserved a bit of plausible deniability by stating, "Possibilities could include," and the list begins with everyone's number one contender, Simon Rattle. After that, things get strange. Sure, David Zinman and Andrew Litton are available, but are they really being considered? True, Zinman made his American conducting debut with Philadelphia in 1967, and has been back since. Litton, too, has some history with the orchestra; he has the experience, if not necessarily the profile.
Still, it was the final two entries on the list that really gave me pause: Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and music director of the American Symphony Orchestra and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and, once again, Alan Gilbert.
Botstein is an extraordinary musical thinker and a bold programmer; Gilbert is a hot young prospect who has guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra. But is that enough evidence to suggest that either is under consideration for one of the plum posts in the American orchestral world, especially after the way the relatively unfamiliar, esoteric-leaning Eschenbach was so summarily chewed up and spit out? What on earth led to their being mentioned in this context? (Extra credit assignment: What do Botstein and Gilbert -- and Eschenbach, and even Gramophone -- all have in common?)
Back on terra firma, Marc Geelhoed of Time Out Chicago and Deceptively Simple related news of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's new radio broadcasting and recording plans on the TOC blog today. In the latter category, a new live recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 conducted by Bernard Haitink is due out from the orchestra's new label, CSO Resound, some time next year. Never mind that there are no fewer than 65 performances of that particular symphony currently available via ArkivMusic. Never mind that Haitink's magnificent Concertgebouw Orchestra recording of that work has just been reissued by Philips. Never mind that the same label has just issued a Haitink-led performance of the work with the Berlin Philharmonic on DVD. Apparently, it remains the rule with orchestra-operated labels that there's no such thing as oversaturation or clutter.
Charalambides - Our Bed Is Green, Joy Shapes and A Vintage Burden (Kranky)
Klaus Schulze - Moondawn (Revisited/SPV)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (Kranky)
Frederic Chopin - 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Four Impromptus - Claudio Arrau (Decca)
John Taverner - Hodie nobis coelorum rex; Mater Christi sanctissima; Magnificat a 4 - Nesciens mater; Quemadmodum a 6*; Missa Mater Christi sanctissima; In nomine a 4* - Fretwork*, The Sixteen/Harry Christophers (Helios)
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Gaude gloriosa; Missa pro defunctis; Salve regina; Pange lingua; O bone Jesu; Canticum canticorum (selections); Gaude, Barbara - Chanticleer (Teldec)