Cadaques names a winner amid continuing disquiet

Cadaques names a winner amid continuing disquiet


norman lebrecht

December 20, 2013

Lorenzo Viotti was last night named the winner of the 11th Cadaques conducting competition. A French citizen, Viotti is the son of the well-liked opera conductor Marcello Viotti, who died in 2005, aged 50. He is also the godson of the conductor Bertrand de Billy.

The competition, which boasts Gianandrea Noseda and Vasily Petrenko among past winners, has been dogged throughout the finals by dissent. Hardly any women candidates got past initial selection and rumours reached us from an early stage that Viotti was the favourite. Orchestra members and two jury members showed sour facial expressions when the semi-finalists were announced, suggesting that better candidates had been unfairly eliminated.

We wish M Viotti well in his future career.

Cadaques needs to apply the rules in future with greater rigour if it is to regain credit as an even-handed competition.

lorenzo viotti


  • Luciano says:

    Well, on the evidence of the La Valse clip, he is clearly very, very talented, pehaps even more so than his father. If that is the case, what is there to complain about?

  • Erich K. says:

    Rumours are RUMOURS. I agree with Luciano above that the evidence of the La Valse clip would suggest this this young man possesses an IMMENSE conducting talent. That sort of command of sound and tempo at 23 years old??? Please, the industry is ugly enough, can we not simply celebrate this young man’s achievements in winning the competition? If it was a ‘dirty’ competition, so be it. As Bartok said: ‘Competitions are for horses, not artists.’ There is significant truth to that. The proof, as always, is in the subsequent career. I’m willing to go out on a limb and predict a major, major career for Mo. Viotti (Jr.)…

    • Enrico Ramirez says:

      i just discover this article right now i feel to say it is RIGHT.

      Rumours or not my friend it is the true he was one of the very worst of the competiton the video what we see with la valse he is karajan in compare of what we show there…. was there following as a listener the competition, all publuc was shocked with results its also interesting that all good conductors with allready a good job and a carriera was all out in the first rounds……nothing to say

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    Viotti may indeed be a very talented conductor- good luck to him and his career.

    But conducting competitions should be scrapped. More often than not- the result is political and the best candidate fails to triumph.

    But this is clearly not the principal reason for the case as to their immediate extermination. The cut off age is generally 35 which is absurd and the idea of 20 year old conductors dancing around with little experience equally so. A more appealing idea would be extending the age limit to at least 50, then you’d get more interesting candidates.

    Piano contests are not much better, but with so many young keyboard wizards about, it the only way of them gaining recognition. But just as they are unlikely to unearth the next Horowitz, Lipatti or Moiseiwitsch- conducting ones are hardly producing the next Abbado or Kleiber!

  • Malcolm James says:

    Lorenzo Viotti has been given an opportunity, but a quick look at the list of past winners of competitions shows that an awful lot of them don’t go on to make a big career. The sour faces meant that they didn’t agree with the judges’ choice, but that seems to be par for the course in any competition. Very often the best candidates have too much individuality and polarise opinion. The winners can therefore be the safe compromise candidates, but that is not a recipe for making it to the top.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    Judging by video is really another thing and is one of the problem of admissions. In a competition you must be not only talented but the best of the group in all the repertoire. This seems not be the case.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    Lorenzo Viotti can have a big talent but what it’s important in the competition is to show it everyday in all the repertoire and be the best of the bunch. This was not the case in Cadaques.where the winner did not deserve to pass the 2nd step. You cannot judge on the base of a tape, if not there would be no reason to call 100 conductors in Spain but simply collect tapes of all the candidates. I wish to this winner to have a big career like his unlucky father had until his premature death but a competition have to be fair with all the contestants admitted. How come that the result was predicted by days by other young conductors? How come that one of my students gave up without going in Cadaques for the same reason? Well, there is the possibility that Viotti is too good for them all but the streaming of the competition did not show this.

  • Anton Weber says:

    Competitions are not about to show someones talent but for the best to win…. The article suggests that this was not the case. Even if this winner is talented the fact does not change that the competition is a joke. A pre-decided result that does not serve excellence but rather individual interests… Shame!!!!

  • Toscanini says:

    I am skeptical of the Cadaques jury’s artistic qualifications, as a whole, to determine new conducting careers. There are 4 members of the jury who are listed as conductors, with the other jury members being general managers – administrative bosses.

    Let’s take a look at those 4 conductors on the jury. Are their qualifications so stellar that they are up to task here?

    1. Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor. President

    Here is his orchestra history:

    1951-1961 Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (conductor)

    1961-1974 Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio and Television (Moscow)

    1964-1970 Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre (principal conductor)

    1974-1985 Chamber Theatre Orchestra

    1974-1977 Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (artistic director)

    1978-1981 BBC Symphony Orchestra (chief conductor)

    1980-1982 Vienna Symphony

    1983-1991 USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra

    1992-1995 Royal Stockholm Philharmonic

    2. Lutz Köhler, conductor

    Maestro Köhler is well known for his pedagogical work, especially as a top conductor of Spanish youth orchestras. His professional experience is a bit harder to trace online.

    3. Jaime Martín, Principal Conductor of the Gävle Symfoniorkester (Sweden) and Principal Conductor of the Orquestra de Cadaqués

    A prominent flautist and professor of flute in London, Mr. Martin decided about 5 years ago that he would transition to a conducting career. With his charismatic personality. excellent connections and fine musicianship, he has enjoyed a modest success so far, although it’s not clear what formal training as a conductor he brings to his new career.

    4. – Joji Hattori, conductor. A Japanese violinist raised in Vienna, Mr. Hattori is violin professor at London’s Royal Academy of Music. He is apparently a colleague of Mr. Martin who also served on that faculty as flute professor. Like Mr. Martin, he decided to make the transition from violin to conducting. Again, it is not clear what his formal training is as a conductor, and what his qualifications are to judge a conducting competition.

    The 3 remaining members of the Cadaques jury are General Managers, or Administrative Heads.

    – François Bou, General Manager of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya

    – Cristina Rocca, Artistic Director of the Orchestre National de France

    – Louwrens Langevoort, Executive and Artistic Director of the Köhlner Philharmonie

    Each jury member has one vote and Cadaqués Orchestra has two votes. It should be mentioned that the Cadaques Orchestra is a pick-up orchestra made up of a group of friends who invite each other to play. They do not audition for their jobs. Their names are posted no where on the orchestra’s website.

    Cadaques is a nepotistic, political organization. People are on the jury and in the orchestra because of connections and friendships, not actual qualifications. The transparency of the live streaming this year was a major improvement. Candidates are spending a lot of money for travel and for the privilege of auditioning and careers are made on the results. I believe that the public should be very much aware of who is voting on these young conductors and what their qualifications are.