No prizes for coming third

No prizes for coming third


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2008

The German magazine Partituren has asked 52 critics to name their current hottie. Top of the singers is Juan Diego Florez, best composer is Hans Werner Henze and fastest up-and-coming is Gustavo Dudamel. No surprises, there.
But when it comes to favourite orchestra, a large majority of critics plump for the Freiburg Baroque ensemble, followed at some distance by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen. In third place, with just three votes, stands the Berlin Philharmonic, supposedly champions of the world.
Well, a poll is a poll is a good way to fill six pages. But what jumped out at me from this survey was the breakdown which showed that critics who live in Berlin voted more than 2-1 for Freiburg against their local ensemble. These are people who hear Rattle & Co perform week in, week out. They don’t seem too impressed. Perhaps they ought to tell us why.
Elsewhere in the mag, there is a long piece of hagiolatry on Herbert von Karajan by one of his misty-eyed biographers. Say what you like about the K brand, but in his time no German magazine would have dared to place his orchestra third to some baroque outfit and a chamber phil – not without Herbie’s lawyers having the issue injuncted before it hit the newsstands. Those were the days…
Here’s the survey, for those that read German: