Carnegie’s next Gatti sub is…. Eschy

Carnegie’s next Gatti sub is…. Eschy


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2014

Daniele Gatti is out for two months and Carnegie’s having to recast its Vienna season. Latest press release:

(For Immediate Release, February 14, 2014, New York, NY)—Carnegie Hall today announced that Christoph Eschenbach has graciously agreed to step in for Daniele Gatti and conduct theVienna Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. The concert is the penultimate concert by the orchestra in Carnegie Hall’s three-week, citywide festival Vienna: City of Dreams, which runs from February 21 to March 16. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s March 15 program—Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished,” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soprano Juliane Banse—remains the same.

As previously announced, Maestro Gatti with deep regret has cancelled all of his professional engagements for the next two months, including two Vienna: City of Dreams programs, due to a tendinopathy (acute inflammation of the tendon) in both shoulders. Franz Welser-Möst will step in for Gatti with the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. in a concert performance of Berg’s Wozzeck.

The March 15 concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will be Maestro Eschenbach’s second appearance in the Vienna: City of Dreams festival. As a pianist, he collaborates with baritone Matthias Goerne in a performance of Schubert’s song cycle Die schöne Müllerin onWednesday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m.


  • Daniel Farber says:

    I love that “graciously”. What a serious disappointment for ticket buyers! The best that CH and the VP can do is Eschenbach? SHAME on them!

  • Deborah says:

    Couldn’t be more disappointed to hear this. I spent a lot of money for this ticket – they should refund!! Eschenbach is the worst.

  • MacroV says:

    I’ve only seen Eschenbach conduct once or twice, and both shows were pretty good. I don’t doubt the poor opinion of him held by many listeners and orchestra musicians. But the VPO, as a self-governing orchestra that is very choosy about its conductors, is under no obligation to book him, so it’s interesting that they did for this gig (I assume that even Carnegie Hall can’t compel the VPO to play with him).

  • thomas baldner says:


  • Walter Apostolou says:

    The machinations of the classical concert industry leave me dumbfounded and aghast, more and more of late. It is clear that whoever signed for this one, just doesn’t give a hoot, nor do they see the Vienna Philharmonic’s concert at Carnegie Hall as anything more than, just another concert on the calendar. Not too long ago, a visit by the Vienna Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall was an event, a major event on the New York music calendar. There were VPO concerts there with Böhm, Karajan, Mehta, and other conducting giants. To now bring in Christoph Eschenbach, especially after his repeated fiascos, with the very same Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, just shows how standards have dropped down many notches. Apart from his very recent disasters with the VPO this autumn, being booed and trashed in the international press, Eschenbach’s track record elsewhere is certainly one of the worst in the business. I personally find him uninspiring and terribly mannered and illogical and avoid his concerts whenever I see them on the London programmes.

    This concert will undoubtedly come and go and in one year nobody will remember it even happened. So much for a once quality driven profession.

  • nyer says:

    God, now I am glad I don’t have a ticket to that concert!

    • John Kelly says:

      Moi aussi. Franz isn’t available? I mean, he’s doing other programs on Tues and Wednesday with them and he definitely has Mahler 4 in his rep. Nelsons is doing Salome with them in the same groups of concerts. Both would be preferable IMO

  • Erika Schmidt-Haas says:

    I agree that the VPO could certainly have been more creative and bold in finding a replacement for Gatti’s Carnegie hall concert. To end up with Christoph Eschenbach is really scraping the barrel. How much more interesting it would be to bring in a new discovery, a young super talented conductor who would either make international headlines or disappoint. Think back to the debuts of Leonard Bernstein, Esa-Pekka Salonen and countless other, at the time, unknown super talents, who were given their big break and they kept on giving and stars were born. This choice of Eschenbach, is not even politically correct, it is downright boring and will be, as stated above, a concert to be forgotten. Where is the courage in this business anymore? Classical music and its narrow restricted world may be dying a painful death, but the very ones who could do something to change it, to revitalise it, to inject new blood into it and help it make new discoveries, they prefer the status quo and with the choice of Christoph Eschenbach opted for faded mediocrity.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Bernstein and Salonen made their last minute debuts stepping in for concerts in the orchestras’ home towns, not while the orchestras were on massively expensive international tours. It is easy to understand and has nothing to do with “faded mediocrity” that the organizers of this tour want to play it safe, even though I agree that Eschenbach is not exactly a highly inspired choice. And it has nothing to do with classical music “dying a painful death” either. That mantra has become very old, and very boring in itself.

  • Papageno says:

    It was also announced that Lorin Maazel is conducting the orchestra (with the same program) in Costa Mesa, CA. Guess he was not available for the Carnegie concert. But needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing Maazel and Vienna and March 3rd.

  • Joel Stein says:

    pretty harsh on Eschenbach-recently heard him conduct Bruckner 9 with the BSO-you can read the review of the concert in the Boston Globe , or better, listen to it in the classical new england web site. I heard Gatti several times in Boston last year as part of his “try out” and the results were definitely mixed. I wouldn’t consider Eschenbach a downgrade from Gatti. I am going to the Wozzeck on 2/28 and believe I am getting an upgrade from Gatti to Welser-Most.

    • Papageno says:

      I feel the same way with Lorin Maazel — big upgrade from Gatti for me (although I’m sorry to hear about his physical problems).

      As for Eschenbach, I’ve heard him in concert several times with the LA Philharmonic — I found his Bruckner 7 to be a bit on the turgid side, but his Prokofiev 5th and Francesca di Rimini were first rate, and he also conducted a thunderous Mahler 6 that brought the house down. I saw him with Philadelphia on tour performing the Tchaikovsky 5th years ago, and thought the overall results were good. A shame that he’s been having trouble lately. But I agree with Joel that I wouldn’t consider Eschenbach a downgrade at all.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I was there for the BSO Bruckner 9, too (Saturday night), but I left with decidedly mixed impressions. It was easy to see what Eschenbach tried to do there, and he led the orchestra competently, to the degree of micromanaging every detail he could. But the only other time I have heard this symphony played this slow was with Celibidache, and he had an orchestra that could actually sustain such slow tempi and that he worked with all the time (and he had probably twice as many rehearsals), while the BSO audibly, and in some cases even visually, struggled with the slow tempi. In some places, they literally ran out of air and there were many ensemble problems. So it was a kind of interesting performance but I felt that Eschenbach tried to force some “profoundness” there that didn’t really happen.

      • Walter Apostolou says:

        Eschenbach is a conductor who does what he does for the effect and for his inflated ego and for nothing else. His obsession with micromanaging every single detail of the music eventually suffocates the music and in turn it strangles and angers the musicians and it ultimately bores the audience to tears. This sort of “look how profound I am” conducting, with deliberately slow, exaggerated and mannered gestures and struggling tempos are all part of the Eschenbach conducting fraud. It’s amazing how many orchestras have bought into this guy and then got burnt and saw their attendance numbers plummet. It happened in Philadelphia, it happened in Paris and friends in Baltimore tell me that the Kennedy Center concerts with Eschenbach are, for the most part, poorly attended. It has recently happened in Salzburg, with the VPO and again in Vienna, again with the VPO. Yet, the VPO let him jump in for Gatti at Carnegoe Hall! The reader below commented that he must have a teflon coating, to have survived this long, with such an appalling track record. I hear that finally his teflon coating is wearing thin and many are simply tired of this pretentious bore. Somebody here spoke about Celibidache and his own slow tempos. That’s where the comparison should stop. Celibidache was a giant, a deep thinker and a philosophic artist, who will go down in history as one of the most unique and profound Maestros to have ever lived. Eschenbach certainly will not!

  • I think Gatti’s overrated, at least in the opera house. Eschenbach seems to have a teflon coating, though.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Sorry naysayers, but Eschenbach came after a string of good to great concerts with his home band in Washington. I particularly enjoyed his reading of Brhams – Schoenberg quartet. And not all of his concerts were poorly attended.