who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

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who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

I think Abbado.He has a thorough sense of style(his mendelssohn,brahms,schubert..sound diffrent).He knows his limitations.He is not a recording or set making maniac. He developes his interpretations (compare to Karajan).

RE: Home

While music is not a sport, and there never can be a "greatest" anything, Sir Charles Mackerras has to be in the running for the top echelon. Superb in everything from Janacek to G&S, his Beethoven and Mozart with the SCO rank with the best.

There are marvellous recordings of him in the "standard" repertoire (Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Stravinsky, Dvorak, Rimsky-Korsakov - a great Telarc "Scheherazade") - but all dotted about on various labels and sometimes hard to find.

I'm not disputing Abbado's greatness, either. His Mahler with the Lucerne orchestra in particular is outstanding.

 

RE: who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

I would say Lorin Maazel.

RE: who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

Bernard Haitink comes to mind, although Lorin Maazel cannot be dismissed from consideration. However, I would have to say Haitink has more and generally better recordings, especially those with the Concertgebouw.

"Some say it is Napoleon, some Hitler, some Mussolini. For me it is simply Allegro con brio." – Toscanini, speaking of the Eroica
RE: Home

 

A tricky, if not simply impossible (even pointless?), question to answer - much like the "greatest [living] guitarist" question beloved of other music magazine/forums. 

I suppose it all depends on what you look for in a conductor and what you regard as "standard repetoire".

Do you want a conductor who's 'conventional', or one who takes risks? Both could be regarded as 'great' - or they could be dismissed as either  'unadventurous' or 'too adventurous', depending on the outcome.

And there's a real sense in which conductors define what's 'standard'.  Playing safe, or pushing the envelope?

Maazel & Mackerras are both outstanding. And I think Marin Alsop will prove to be truly first rate with 'standard repetoire' in time (eg, her Brahms  symphony cycle). 

But looking for just one "greatest" is a snare and a delusion.  There really isn't one, and it could distract from hearing some wonderful music conducted by someone who didn't make an essentially arbitrary 'cut'. 

 


 

"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"

- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.

RE: who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

I'll pick Neemi Jarvi. From his recordings of the music of Estonian composers (Auster, Kapp, Raats), through his Glazunov, through Alfven, through Sibelius, through Stenhammar, through Dvorak, through Still, and so forth, I cannot think of any living conductor as adventurous and broad-ranged as him. And yet he's great in standard repetoire as well (to answer the question more directly).

David A. Hollingsworth

RE: who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

I agree totally with SpiderJon, the regrettable search for The Greatest sometimes obscures our view of The Interesting and The Challenging.

When I started buying records as a teenager there was no question in my mind as to the greatest conductor...Karajan. It had to be Karajan because everybody was telling me so, bolstered by bludgeoning marketing. Solti was up there too. It was all to do with marketing, and I also regret using the Penguin Stereo Guides as some sort of Bible, with their "star rating" league tables. Two-star records, in my mind, just weren't worth bothering with.

One of the great boons of the CD era has been the re-issuing of recordings by less well-known conductors such as Scherchen, Konwitschny, Schuricht, Kletzki, Rodzinski as well as more famous ones whose recordings didn't always make the 3-star rating... the playing field seems more level these days, and critics do seem to be more even-handed.

It's a much healthier environment....and Karajan? While I still treasure many of his recordings, I can see his pros and cons in better perspective. With 18 Tchaikovsky Fifths in my collection (instead of just HvK's) I feel I have a more balanced view of the piece.

Conductors should, of course, be recognised for lifelong outstanding achievement, but never should there be a Greatest.

RE: Home RE: Home

SpiderJon,

I agree entirely: this comes from the world of ClassicFM and a passion for list-making and league tables.  There are a large number of modifying factors, some objective and some subjective.  What orchestra are they conducting? Should we give especial credit to a conductor who has not just taken over a well-honed insrument like the Berlin (Rattle) but has transformed a hitherto average orchestra into a really good one (Rattle, this time at the CBSO).

What is their repertoire?  Do we give especial credit to the specialist (e.g. of Russian works, such as Ashkenazy, Gergiev) or should we prefer conductors who have strengths in several periods (e.g.Mackerras)?

At best, we could draw up a list of perhaps twenty or thirty conductors who could be counted as great, with perhaps the same number who may very well be 'great' later.  But even then, I am dubious.

Maybe we should leave it as a purely subjective thing, and  talk about personal favourites without leaving hostages to fortune by nominating 'great', or 'greatest' conductors

RE: Home

"Karajan because everybody was telling me so, bolstered by bludgeoning marketing. Solti was up there too."

You have forgotten Bernstein - though he did a lot of self-marketing. Joking aside, I don't think anyone gets a big name and retains it for decades without having considerable merit.

Adrian

RE: Home

Adrian3 wrote:

You have forgotten Bernstein - though he did a lot of self-marketing. Joking aside, I don't think anyone gets a big name and retains it for decades without having considerable merit.

As if I could forget Lenny! But I'm racking my brains to think of a single one of his recordings I'd recommend as the sole representation of a piece in somebody's collection (maybe the DG Mahler 5....?) However, I treasure many of his sometimes eccentric, sometimes outrageous performances over some by more sober interpreters. His DG Pathetique may be the slowest ever, but I personally find it absolutely compelling....but not to be copied by lesser mortals, and certainly not the only version to have in your library!

RE: who is the greatest living conductor of standard repertoire?

Bernstein was fantastic but died in 1990 which is a slight impediment to be the greatest living conductor.  Where have you been for 20 years?

For the older regime here in the UK Colin Davies and Sir Charles Mackerras ride supreme for me.  Otherwise Jansons, Maazel, Masur, Haitink, Rozhdestkensky, Berglund look pretty fine to me.  Plenty of younger talent on the way through too - Elder, Aramo, Salonen, Petrenko.  Sorry if I have forgotten someone,

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