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Posted at 1:00 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Conducting notes

By Anne Midgette

Today, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced that Gustavo Dudamel has extended his contract as music director through the 2018-19 season. When the Cleveland Orchestra nailed down its young music director, Franz Welser-Möst, to a similarly long contract, it was as a half-defiant gesture of support for a conductor not everyone thought was the best leader for the ensemble. When the Los Angeles Philharmonic board decided to extend Dudamel's contract (which originally ran through 2014), it was to keep other orchestras from courting him. Probably no other conductor these days is so hotly watched. He's only in his second season, though, and it is still a question how he will continue to mature -- but now, Los Angeles will be the first to know.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Riccardo Muti is giving further cause for concern. Having cut short his triumphant inaugural period in October as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's new music director and flown back to Italy due to exhaustion, the 69-year-old conductor returned this week for the winter season -- and fainted at rehearsal. He suffered only "superficial facial injuries," but had to be hospitalized and cancel this week's performances: Mitsuko Uchida led the orchestra on Thursday, and Leonard Slatkin is stepping in on Friday.

Slatkin, of course, has had less conducting work than he anticipated this season since the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hasn't played a single concert. It has now reached the 4-month mark of a bitter strike; management is making a new contract offer this week, which some have referred to as the final offer.

By Anne Midgette  | February 4, 2011; 1:00 AM ET
Categories:  national, news  
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Next: And about those chorister seats


Both Leonard Slatkin and Mitsuko Uchida led the orchestra Thursday night and will again Friday. The program was revised, with Uchida conducting the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 from the keyboard followed by Slatkin conducting Shostakovich's 5th symphony after intermission.

Posted by: Dave997 | February 4, 2011 2:36 AM | Report abuse

As a matter of fact Welser-Möst is a more accomplished and distinguished conductor than gifted but unexperienced rising starlet Dudamel. Wait for five or six years and distrust the daily sensation, the rules of classical music are different ones.

Posted by: manekineko | February 5, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse

And speaking of Welser-Möst, it's a distressing sign to see that the Cleveland Orchestra cannot fill Carnegie Hall. On Friday, an entire section was empty. I haven't heard the orchestra at Carnegie Hall since the Dohnanyi years (I did hear it at the Kennedy Center a few times since), but at that time I remember a full Carnegie Hall.

And say what you want about Welser-Möst, the orchestra is in great shape. These woodwinds are fantastic. One would want more "interpretation", but once in a while I am simply satisfied in listening to a great orchestra - although I am not sure I would want it night after night in a subscription season.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | February 7, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Dudamel is definitely over-appreciated. He is simply not as serious, as serene, and as thoughtful as he needs to be. Beyond that, he is simply doing things which everyone else has already done many times before. Nothing new here, except the pretty face. It seems like Symphony Boards scare easily!!!

Posted by: pronetoviolins | February 9, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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