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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Three Strauss-keteers

Fabio Luisi and Valery Gergiev step in with the Munich Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Juggling batons: With Lorin Maazel (left) ill,Valery Gergiev (center) and Fabio Luisi (right) will step in to
conduct major Strauss tone poems with the Munich Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.
Photo of Mr. Maazel from his website. Photo of Mr. Luisi © 2014 Opernhaus Zurich.
Photo of Mr. Gergiev by Laura Luostarinen © 2006 the Polar Music Awards. Photo alteration by the author.

New Yorkers have lost their chance to hear Lorin Maazel conduct major works by Richard Strauss this weekend.

On Monday evening, Carnegie Hall announced that Mr. Maazel had cancelled both of his planned New York appearances with the Munich Philharmonic Orchesta due to illness. The conductor has served as that ensemble's Chief Conductor since 2010.

Carnegie Hall announced Tuesday that Friday's concert will be conducted by Valery Gergiev. It features Emanuel Ax playing Strauss' rarely heard Burleske for piano and orchestra, flanked by two familiar tone poems: Also Sprach Zarathustra and Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streich.

Earlier this season, Mr. Gergiev's appearances on the Carnegie Hall podium as Music Director of the Mariinsky Orchestra in St. Petersburg were greeted with protestors outside and boo birds inside. Pro-gay-rights protestors attempted to confront the Ossetian conductor on his close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Gergiev is scheduled to become the new Chief Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic in 2015, replacing Mr. Maazel. In addition to his Mariinsky duties, he is music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, a position he will relinquish at the end of this season.

Saturday's concert will be conducted by Fabio Luisi, current Principal Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. The program is unchanged. It consists of  the Suite from Strauss' opera Der Rosenkavalier, Ein Heldenleben and the Four Last Songs with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila as soloist.

The double shot of Strauss is intended as part of ongoing celebrations of the composer's sesquicentennial year. Strauss was born in Munich in 1864. His 150th birthday falls on June 11.

Mr. Maazel, now 84 is a familiar figure to New York music lovers, having most recently conducted Don Carlos at the Metropolitan Opera. He served from 2001 to 2009 as the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, where he conducted a notable concert version of Strauss' Elektra. Mr. Luisi is also a qualified Straussian, having conducted the Met production of that opera, along with Die Ägyptische Helene and Ariadne auf Naxos.

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