This man is the hottest conductor in the world. The critics love him. So why aren't Prom-goers snapping up seats to see him?
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Wednesday 28 August 1996
The public still associates the orchestras of Berlin, New York and Chicago (all of which sold out instantly) with the Olympian heights of classical music. The city of Rotterdam does not cause the spine to tingle in the same way.
Classical music concert-goers, it seems, are as susceptible to the lure of a "brand name" as their counterparts at rock concerts who blithely ignore key personnel changes among the musicians.
Certainly, the aforementioned orchestras are still among the best in the world, but the world of classical music has changed since Von Karajan in Berlin, Solti in Chicago and Boulez in New York ruled relatively unchallenged. As CD buyers know, the less glamorous names on the less glamorous labels at budget prices can produce music which achieves critical acclaim. And the great orchestras can have their off days.
The music critic Norman Lebrecht - whose new book When The Music Stops claims that the big orchestral names "are often overpaid and overplayed" - said yesterday that audiences take a gamble when they buy tickets for the big names.
"There is a premier league of orchestras who, when they play on top form, are unbeatable. But when they play on less than top form they can pull a real stinker. They may have been touring too much or they don't care because money has become more important than institutional pride.
"None of the London orchestras can play as brilliantly as the Berlin Philharmonic on top form; but equally none of the London orchestras can play as badly as the Berlin Philharmonic can do if they don't like the conductor or the coffee wasn't quite right at breakfast."
There is also, says Lebrecht, the problem of too much playing. "You always have to ask whether the orchestra is coming in as a first step on the tour or the third or fourth step. Are we getting wide-awake performances? The New York Philharmonic came in fourth step on their tour. So all these things have to be taken into account. It is a gamble for audiences, though less of a gamble at the Proms when the exuberance and the foot stamping tends to rouse even the biggest orchestras and give them back their old enthusiasm."
But for Lebrecht and other experts there is as much excitement in names that are unknown to the public at large. "The Chamber Orchestra of Europe is one of the most interesting bands around," he said. "Conductors who have worked with them tell me it is a total experience. You're playing with some of the best young musicians in Europe."
At this year's Proms, the premier league names all sold out; but there have been some new British entrants into the top division. Britain's Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are also among the hottest tickets. There were sell-outs too for soloist horn player Barry Tuckwell's farewell performance and for conductor Trevor Pinnock with the English Concert Orchestra.
Tickets were also at a premium for the National Youth Orchestra. Are they now a major force among world orchestras? "Possibly," said a Proms official, "but you also have to remember there are a lot of parents and friends."
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 3 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Becky Watts: Four appear in court charged with hiding body parts after teenager's death
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
Professor Brian Cox brands astrology-believing Tory MP David Tredinnick an 'outlier on the spectrum of reason'
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...