Thursday, February 07, 2013

Père et Fils

A gathering of a family crime syndicate?

No. Neeme and Paavo, Järvi père and Järvi fils.

A second son, Kristjan, has also joined the family business.

All the Järvi conductors are highly controversial. None has been able to attain a top-tier career, with top-tier appointments and top-tier guest appearances and top-tier fees—although Paavo very definitely competes in the second tier, and about ten years ago was on the verge of moving into the first tier, an advancement that was not to occur.

Neeme’s most significant position was with the Detroit Symphony, where he was what may be described as “a local success”. Otherwise, Neeme toiled away for decades in Gothenburg, Glasgow and Newark, waiting for the phone to ring.

Paavo has held two significant positions, first with the Cincinnati Symphony and now with Orchestre de Paris. When he assumed the Cincinnati post, Paavo was the man many believed would take the orchestra to a new level. Such was not to happen. Cincinnati remained mired in the middle rung of major American orchestras, and Paavo left sooner than expected.

I doubt that Paavo’s Paris tenure will be a long one. I cannot foresee Paavo finding happiness or success in Paris, working with an orchestra notorious for its prickliness. No conductor since Daniel Barenboim has hung around Orchestre de Paris for long.

In any case, musicians from major orchestras, as a general rule, have given Paavo negative assessments in internal surveys. One outcome of those surveys is that Paavo no longer is in demand by the world’s top ensembles, and has to work mainly with less prestigious orchestras.

The results of such internal surveys get around, as Antonio Pappano was quick to learn ten years ago. Pappano, trying to develop an American career, was uniformly panned by American orchestra musicians after a round of appearances in Cleveland, Boston and elsewhere. The result: Pappano’s American career died in one season, probably a record of some sort.

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