Why do Swiss orchestras keep getting it wrong?main
There has been general consternation abroad at the decision by Zurich’s Tonhalle orchestra to sack its young music director, Lionel Bringuier, after just one four-year term.
Musicians tell us they found his rehearsals boring and unstructured and decided it was time for him to go.
Is that so? The most boring rehearsal conductor in recent memory was Claudio Abbado, who drove most of the London Symphony Orchestra and some in the Berlin Philharmonic to despair. But the players persisted until they got used to his methods and eventually they reaped great rewards.
Bringuier has been assistant to Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel, both of whom vouch for his talent. What he didn’t learn from them should have been augmented by experienced musicians in the Tonhalle orchestra. But they showed no patience or sympathy for a conductor on a learning curve and let it be known that they’d had enough.
A weak manager and a dumb board of bankers and local worthies simply did their bidding.
That’s how the Swiss run their orchestras.
In Geneva, where two managers walked out of the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, they still don’t know if Jonathan Nott will sign his contract as music director. If he sees what’s happening in Zurich, he should decline.
Zurich and Geneva are the two premier orchestras in Switzerland and their clockwork has broken down.
Happily, the Lucerne Festival has saved the nations reputation. Its new music director Riccardo Chailly has begun with a Mahler Eighth blast and the orchestra is the envy of the continent.
Bringuier, meanwhile, made his Salzburg Festival debut this week.