mercredi 1 septembre 2010

For better or worse ... some rants on Levine's health rumors ...

There has been a lot of discussions and articles on James Levine's health. He has had to spend another extended time off the podium, missed a lot of events in Tanglewood and was replaced on various cases at the Met.

In his usual insinuating style, English critic Norman Lebrecht has hinted that he will be replaced by Riccardo Chailly in Boston and also mentioned that both Pappano and Jurowski will depart from Covent Garden and Glyndebourne in 2013 at a time when the Met could be available. The Boston Globe (sorry, I have not kept the link) had also some negative and more direct disapproval comments, highlighting the high cost of maintainting Levine in his position.

I am a huge Levine fan and am shocked by these to be frank. Lebrecht's tabloid sensationalism is documented in many places so there is no need to add anything, but the Globe is also missing some important points.

I spoke to several musicians in Boston and a few fellow critics in New York and the picture I got was very different:
  • Levine may have had some rough time with critics and audiences, but this is more due to a modern and adventurous programming, which should be the pride and envy of many orchestras. 
  • Work with the musicians is very happy. Again, I spoke with various of them and in particular some of the new members and they are conscious of the exceptional opportunity it is to have him.
Levine has during more than 30 years build by far the best orchestra in the US and probably the best Opera Orchestra in the world. The BSO he inherited from Ozawa was and still is a superb ensemble and the work he has done, repertory wise is unique and unfinished.

So think of the situation as in a marriage. If you have been married with someone for decades, you do not kick your husband/wife if he/she is unwell. You stay married for the best and the worst of the times. When you are lucky to have as a chief conductor someone like Levine, you stand by his side when he has health problems.

For those who wants a taste of Levine's unique capability to accompany singers, listen to the harmony between Renée Fleeming and the orchestra at the end of the aria. It takes decades to build this so what are a few cancellations in front of such artistry ?

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