Riccardo Chailly is to leave the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester at the end of the 2015/16 season – four years earlier than expected. Back in June 2013, Gramophone had reported that his contract with the German ensemble had been renewed until 2020.
What prompted the change of plan is not clear, though a statement issued by the orchestra implies it didn’t want him to leave. The city’s mayor Burkhard Jung is quoted as saying he ‘has conceded’ to Chailly’s desire to leave ‘in recognition of the exceptional accomplishments of Riccardo Chailly in furthering the artistic and international reputation of the Gewandhausorchester.’
Those accomplishments have indeed been impressive – in the 10 years since Chailly took over the orchestra it has become recognised as one of today's leading ensembles, accolades bestowed on it including the 2014 Gramophone Recording of the Year for the complete Brahms Symphonies, issued on Decca.
Tobias Haupt, Chair of the Orchestra Board, also paid tribute to Chailly’s leadership. ‘Riccardo Chailly is always primarily concerned with paying tribute to the thoughts and feelings of the composer and thereby making these accessible for us today. We treasure his exemplary seriousness in the formulation, in the precision of the shape and form, and in his unmistakable intuition for the deeper relationships in the music’.
Chailly was named last month as the new Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra from 2016, and this January took over as Music Director of Milan’s La Scala opera house.