Geneva's main newspaper Le Temps has announced that Marek Janowski has decided to shorten his tenure at the Swiss Romande Orchestra and will step down in 2012. Bertrand de Billy is already mentioned as a potential replacement whose appointment could be confirmed next week.
de Billy is a major talent which I have only heard in the Opera House, either in Salzburg for a swift and lively Zauberflöte as well as in London for a solid Carmen.There are worse possible choices for the OSR.
At the press conference done last yearby the orchestra to present the new season, there were a number of comments which hinted at Janowski's disconfort of having the orchestra spread between the Opera house (which does not have a musical director) and the concert hall.
There are a number of orchestras that hold both duties as in Vienna or in Leipzig. However, these are ensembles with bigger headcount which have enough principals to be able to perform in multiple places while maintaining a consistent level. They also benefit from halls with better acoustics than the Victoria Hall.
In the case of the OSR, Janowski brought a certain discipline and rigour which definitely helped the orchestra coherence and overall level to go up. In the right works like in Mendelssohn's Elias, his long-lined approach paid superb dividends and the performance was first-rate. His sudden departure feels like a blow to the musicians and the coming months could feel tense.
I will keep you posted as news follow.