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Monday, October 4, 2010

Ten Super Conductors

The Top Ten Maestros I've Seen

Claudio Abbado at work.
Hi folks. I finally got to hear Gustavo Dudamel conduct this weekend. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to put up my top ten list of great conductors that I've seen lead an orchestra or an opera.

I'll try to add what I've seen them conduct, as I can best remember it. In a few cases, there are just too many performances, so I've picked a notable one. Oh and the order is completely arbitrary as I thought of them for the list.

1) Claudio Abbado: Berlin Philharmonic, Mahler Symphony No. 3; Bruckner Symphony No. 9

2) Giuseppe Sinopoli: Dresden Staatskapelle. Tone poems and opera excerpts by Richard Strauss. Sinopoli is one of my favorite, underrated composers. He died in 2001, collapsing in the pit while conducting Act III of Aida in Berlin.

3) Daniel Barenboim: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Tristan und Isolde; Mahler 5 and 7 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

4) Pierre Boulez: Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortileges with the Cleveland Orchestra and Suzanne Mentzer.

5) Riccardo Chailly: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Mahler Symphony No. 7

6) James Levine: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra. More performances that I can count at the Met, but all of the Wagner operas, especially Parsifal and Lohengrin.

7) Bernard Haitink: Mahler Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At Symphony Hall when I lived in Boston, probably in 1996.

8) Sir Colin Davis: Program of English music with the New York Philharmonic featuring works by Vaughan Williams (the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis) Michael Tippett and Edward Elgar.

9) Kurt Masur: Many performances with the New York Philharmonic. Pressed to pick one: The St. Matthew Passion or Debussy's La Mer. And he led a superb Bruckner Seventh last season.

10) Riccardo Muti:"The Pines of Rome" with the New York Philharmonic. Simply devastating.

The Next Ten: Alan Gilbert, Christian Thielemann, William Christie, Zdenek Macal, Valery Gergiev. Seiji Ozawa, John Eliot Gardiner, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Gustavo Dudamel and Sir Simon Rattle.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.