Watch: Mirga conducts the Met

Watch: Mirga conducts the Met


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2018

Tchaik 4 tonight at Carnegie Hall with the Met opera orchestra.

This is what the excitement’s about.


  • Rob says:

    Very good, and pregnant too. Congratulations.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

    • Olassus says:

      … and to the father, who is married to another woman (we understand from a recent SD post).

      • Van gogh says:

        Yes, married to another woman and father of two little children

      • Artm says:

        Wow, really great conduction…

      • anon says:

        Women and children are liberated today, they no longer need a husband or father; this woman is perfectly capable — financially, professionally, personally — to raise her child alone.

        I dare say she and her future child will be in a better position — financially, professionally, personally — than the average population of the city of Birmingham.

        (Megan’s father disappeared and she grew up to marry a prince. Obama’s father disappeared, and he…)

        • musiclover says:

          Breaking up a family with young children is never a cool thing , no matter what the circumstances are . who knows what will happen , but nonetheless a sticky and not pleasant situation…

  • Fred says:

    Mirga’s Tchaik 4 a few years ago with the L.A. Phil was absolutely fabulous. It made me an instant believer in her.

    • Karen says:

      For those interested in listening for themselves, here is Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla with LA Phil in Tchaikovsky symphony no. 4:

      • Karen says:

        For those interested, since both Nézet-Séguin and Philadelphia have now been mentioned in the comments as contrasts, here is Nézet-Séguin with Philadelphia Orchestra in Tchaikovsky 4 last year in October:

    • Rgiarola says:

      From the same people that believe Dudamel is splendid. Whatever…

      • Bill says:

        What an ignorant response. That the LAPhil plays for Dudamel is irrelevant – the only question is your reaction to the performance on the broadcast, which is not conducted by Dudamel. If you didn’t listen, who cares whether you like their usual MD&C? And if you did listen, why not give your opinion of the performance? Dudamel snark is about as relevant as the color of the carpeting on the way to the gift shop (and I usually find myself wondering what all the excitement is about with him). Or dismissing the video above because it’s the Met orchestra and you dislike Peter Gelb and the current crop of singers available at the Met…

        • Rgiarola says:

          I’m giving my opinion about LA eternal hype loveness, since previous commenters made reference to the orchestra that represent it. Dudamel is just an good example about the way they choose things. My opinion about Mirga is in another comment I did here, but It’s seems that you did not read before said something. By the way, “argumentun ad hominen” is the inferior kind of argument ever possible, according to the socratic manual of dialetic. You can do better!

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Look, my first ‘incredibly exciting’ Tchaik 4 was with a ‘district youth orchestra’ when I was a teen ( on tuba). I’ve played in several ‘incredibly exciting’ performances of it, since then, with community orchestras and semi-pro orchestras. If the conductor takes a reasonably fast tempo for the finale, how can it NOT be incredibly exciting! My point: you don’t have to be Mirga (or anyone else).

    • Ben says:

      Exactly. The Mirga hype is deafening … shall we start calling her “The Gal”?

    • Fred says:

      I’ve heard the piece numerous times under various orchestras. Your point is taken; it’s still the case that Mirga did a wonderful job of drawing out exceptional playing when I saw her conducting an orchestra that I knew very well.

    • msc says:

      And yet there are dull performances of it …. The conductor does make some difference.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Of course. Some are better than others, and a certain amount of ‘interpretation’ is inevitable. When dealing with orchestras, it’s sometimes a case of whether they, the orchestra, feel inspired or not. Like anybody, they occasionally have their down days.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    Even in a non-acoustic, with both players and Mirga marking, her, and the band’s quality, shine through. The concert should be marvellous,

  • RW2013 says:

    Who said that they’re excited, and about what?

  • collin says:

    The best thing to happen to New York since the introduction of the bagel.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Really now!? What about Carnegie Hall, where they performed…that was built after the introduction of the bagel 😉

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Indeed, this clip is only worth watching. Musically it’s unremarkable, possibly because of the very poor sound quality and the room’s acoustics.

  • Doug says:

    I have to say, I am skeptical about any form of praise towards *any* conductor. As a rule they are sociopathic narcissists and if orchestras are serious about surviving into the next century they will either eliminate this vaunted role or evolve it so that *they* become subservient to the orchestra and not the other way around as it us now. Posts like this perpetuate this pestiferous nonsense.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    What’s really alarming, is that they frequently bring in a ‘new’ conductor to rehearse a work that the orchestra has played for a hundred years with pretty much everybody, and there’s all this expectation that the ‘new’ conductor is going to – or should – make a dent. Get real. In many cases, the players know these pieces better than the guy/gal waving the stick will in five years time. It’s an absurd expectation.

    I was told a story that a very prominent conductor in today’s current crop – I won’t name names – was brought in to do the Brahms 1st symphony with the Chicago Symphony. This person stopped and fussed with the piece constantly. During the break, Ray Still or Clevenger (or somebody else) went up and told this person, “look, just conduct through the piece – don’t fuss with it – and we’ll give you the Brahms 1 of your life” (I’m paraphrasing). The rehearsal then went quite differently and, sure enough, this conductor got a huge ‘write up’ in the Tribune for his Brahms 1. True story.

    • Sixtus says:

      The MET orchestra had not been doing orchestral concerts long enough for it to have played much of the standard orchestral repertory. So they cannot have played this symphony for a hundred years and especially not ‘with pretty much everybody.’ That’s part of what makes their Carnegie outings so fascinating: a world class ensemble approaching for the standard repertory often for the first time. It probably makes it exciting for a conductor as well — no preconceived notions from the players as to how a piece is ‘supposed’ to go.

      • Sixtus says:

        PS: That said, I found her insertion near the end of a couple of unmarked subito mezzo fortes so as to enable a couple of crowd-rousing crescendi, also unmarked, to be both too traditional and musically unnecessary, especially if the tempo had been a tad faster. Tchaikovsky modulates the intensity in this passage, clearly marked sempre fff, by changes in instrumentation and in string figuration. No need to jiggle the volume knob. The full-orchestra fff alone should be able to bring an audience to its feet.

        • Paavo says:

          +100. That criticism aside, Gražinytė-Tyla conducted the Cinderella of Bruckner symphonies, No. 6, wonderfully in Helsinki couple of years ago. She swept the supposed weaknesses of the symphony away.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        I’m not going to dispute your point. But again, a very good community orchestra with a good conductor can do a ‘bang up’ job with the Tchaik 4. The rest of the program that the Met Opera Orch. and Mirga are doing is more of a challenge, IMHO, and will take some real rehearsal – particularly Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death” in the Shostakovich orchestration. I assume that the mezzo employed, Anita Rachvelishvili, is well up to the task.

        Indeed, it’s a solid program and will probably come off very well. Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred” is an entirely different kettle of fish, though – very demanding for both the orchestra and conductor. ‘Newbies’ generally don’t tackle that one (not that Mirga is a newbie).

    • Rgiarola says:

      Karajan said one time for the interviews that produced the book onversations with karajan that “it is better to listen a new conductor with an average orchestra, since a top-notch one will do it great in any case”. It is true MET oschestra doesn’t do much symphonic repertoire so often, but they are probably the best ensemble in the USA, or at the least among the top 3.

      • Petros LInardos says:

        I can understand the argument that a new conductor will be better judged on an average orchestra, because that’s where they’ll make more of a difference.

        But to assume that a top orchestra will give a great performance in any case is inconsistent with my personal experience of the Vienna Philharmonic. As a student in the 80s I heard them in many unremarkable performances, in concert and at the opera, sometimes under famous conductors. At their best they fully up to their reputation, but I could never count on it.

        • Rgiarola says:

          Indeed Linardos. I’m quite sure karajan would defend Vienna against all odds, even a fair one. Lol. Just as a curiosity, he did this comment in the 60’s concerning Mehta conducting Vienna ;-))

  • Ricardo says:

    Wrong note on the first violins, fifth stand inside at 01:11

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    It’s not that these people aren’t talented or well trained. Of course they are, or they wouldn’t be there. It’s just the classical music world is not all that dissimilar to the professional sports world – there are a lot of ‘power plays’ being made by the agents and p.r. people behind the scenes. We’re told that these people are great before they ever really get the chance to establish themselves. As a result, we end up with a lot of ‘flavor of the month’ situations (classical violinists seem to get turned over by the month). In due time, these people usually do establish themselves, but a lot of ‘damage’ and ‘damage control’ goes along with it. We see it all the time.

    Remember when EMI touted Simon Rattle as the greatest thing since Toscaniini and Furtwaengler? There was quite a bit of backlash to that – rightfully so. But now Rattle has clearly established himself as one of the leaders. In fact, I’m glad he has the LSO.

    Also, kudos to the Berlin Phil. for disregarding the pressure and picking the person they most want to lead them: Kiril Petrenko. I hope it works out.

  • Gregor says:

    Conducts like a bad student

  • Anon says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, I must report that most players in the video find her to be more hype than substance.

  • conductor says:

    I’m sorry, but this looks ridiculous.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    WTF? Did I miss something? Was there some revelation in this over-played symphony she brings out that no one else has ever discovered? I got no adrenalin thrill, I heard nothing exciting. Are we supposed to be impressed because she’s a pregnant woman conducting the Tchaik 4? Maybe it was the room acoustics, but I found it dull and routine. Did nothing to erase the electrifying performance I heard Tugan Sokhiev give a few years ago, not to mention Eschenbach with Cleveland and some others. Maybe I’m just getting old and it takes a lot to impress me. But frankly, this younger generation of conductors has little to offer compared to the masters of yesterday.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      “this younger generation of conductors has little to offer compared to the masters of yesterday”
      I feel that way about some of the currently “hot” conductors, but wouldn’t generalize. I too was underwhelmed by the above clip, or even by the Mirga/CBSO youtube recording of the full 4th symphony (available on youtube). But have been very impressed by this excerpt of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique with the Berlin Phil under Kirill Petrenko:
      This is just one example of younger conductors doing supreme work.

      • Cubs Fan says:

        Generalizing is dangerous, and of course there are exceptions. I wonder though, is there anyone conducting today who in, say 50 years, someone is going to write a biography about? Will anyone care? Maybe the classical world is so marginalized that it is irrelevant. In my library I have biographies of some 150 conductors: the likes of Beecham, Reiner, Monteux, Walter, Karajan, Koussevitsky, Barbirolli, Boult, Bernstein, Szell, and many other giants. Are there any today who will be similarly worshiped? Who was the last conductor to appear on the cover of Time magazine? Solti – some 45 years ago? There are conductors today who give excellent, wonderful concerts…absolutely. But so often it’s hype and marketing. Maybe we don’t have those legends anymore and we pump up what used to be called second-rate.

        • The View from America says:

          We’re dating ourselves when we think getting on the cover of Time Magazine means anything today.

    • Anon says:

      You haven’t figured out NL’s music taste? If you are petit like Yujia Wang and MGT, NL automatically thinks you are automatically the most exciting. I wonder what type of excitement these people make NL feel.

  • Freddynyc says:

    Where did she learn that bizarre stick technique – from her middle school band director…..?

  • Not Today says:

    Betcha most of the above here couldn’t tell one conductor from another in a blindfolded test. Oh but a/he drew out such wonderful playing from the band! Such tempos!

    Metronomes with hair. Musicians do the playing.

  • anon says:

    Millennials find this video unremarkable.

    Those older than 50 think they are witnessing the Virgin Mary.

    • The View from America says:

      If that’s the case, then we should be far more impressed with her future baby.

    • Bill says:

      Some of us in the 50+ crowd find it unremarkable as well. I have no issue with female conductors who are well-prepared, and I do not doubt that she knows the score for Tchaik 4. But knowing the score and eliciting a musically gripping performance, well, I’d say that in the case at hand, the first did not bring about the second in this video, which looked like a rather ordinary read-through at a get-acquainted session. And maybe that’s exactly what this clip is, because it does not seem to present any evidence of notable greatness by either conductor or orchestra here, though I believe the latter, at least, to be true. If this clip was audio only, labeled with the name of some former Eastern European orchestra and conductor of the sort you see used by Naxos to record inexpensively, no one would have much of anything to say.

      I think the women I know who have given birth to full-term babies would have a good laugh at the description of MGT in this clip as “very pregnant”!

      • Michael Comins says:

        As one who first heard/learned Tchaik 4 via Koussevitsky/BSO – still never equalled in some ways IMHO – I found this clip to be quite ordinary in tempo, conception and playing granting that the Met’s orchestra rehearsal space (I’ve played there) isn’t an ideal acoustic. Perhaps this was just a first rehearsal/read-through. Mirga’s conducting of Brahms 4th with the outstanding Juilliard Orch. within the last two seasons was also unremarkable.

        Speranza Scappucci’s conducting of the Juilliard Orch’s. commencement concert two nights ago was sensational.

        • JohnWB says:

          I was at the Juilliard concert too: scappucci made the Juilliard orchestra sound like the best professional orchestra ! And she was thrilling , all three compositions on the program brilliantly rendered . Mind blowing Forza ouverture , subtle support of the singer and colors in the Beethoven and an amazing full of life Mendelssohn 4 ! Charismatic , leader always at service of the music. The students played their hearts and souls out and the result was pure magic

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Oh please, my children are twins. Or maybe that’s the reason why I have no clear idea what a singleton very pregnant woman looks like.

  • Doug Grant says:

    Why no similar raves about Nathalie Stuztman? Much more profound and communicative.

  • Cynthia670502 says:

    She is a joke . A parody of conducting . And the musical result is simply appalling . Is this Tchaikovsky ???? Enough with this PR pushing someone who looks like a clown on the podium . There are so many talented and great women conducting today who get less attention because they serve the music and are not about making stupid faces and bouncing up and down the podium.

  • NyMusician says:

    With Yannick, bringing Mirga here on the podium is really unfair to here. I am sure she is a nice person.

  • Hyper says:

    This conductor looks like a marionette …and the sounds coming out of the musicians are a reflection of it …

    She looks ridiculous while “conducting” and the musicians seem to be conducting her

  • Gerard says:

    Come on, Norman! Whats so exciting about this? Bad recorded and bad acoustics. Don’t exaggerate…

    • NyMusician says:

      Her powerful backers, like NL and Deborah Borda, are using the same strategy that Donald Trump does all the time: Keep saying something untrue for a thousand times and people will believe.

      Unfortunately, it ain’t gonna work for musicians when people play with Yannick all the time. She is a nice and beautiful looking woman who has a mediocre conducting talent and lacking understanding of fine traditions.

    • Anon says:

      Her powerful backers, like NL and Deborah Borda, are using the same strategy that Donald Trump does all the time: Keep saying something untrue for a thousand times and people will believe.

      Unfortunately, it ain’t gonna work for musicians when people play with Yannick all the time. She is a nice and beautiful looking woman who has a mediocre conducting talent and lacking understanding of fine traditions.

      • Ben says:


        BTW Yannick didn’t slam his baton last night amid the obvious frustration. The media just sensationalized the whole ordeal. He did the right thing by immediately walked off the stage.

      • Rgiarola says:

        Actually Goebbels strategy. He was the one who said “A lie repeated 1000 times, turned too be true”. The interesting thing for me is the fact Deborah Borda is behind this new hype again. Doesn’t she get tired of that? She got the messiah, and forgot him in west coast . Now she wants to create the virgin mary. What a bad Deb!
        Indeed, NL was so supporting to the messiah back in 2009.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    > Boring
    > terrible place to rehearse esp for the MET
    > She’s hot and at least one other male agrees with me

    Let me know if I missed anything.

  • Lydia Wahlberg says:

    Jesus Olassus, did you really have to say that?

  • anon says:

    The NYT was at best luke warm in its review of MGT.

    For the NYT, she represents somewhat of a symbol to contrast with Levine, but even then, a tenuous and tangential symbol, since Levine’s alleged victims were teen boys, not women.

    • collin says:

      That’s right, the Met ought to start putting teenagers on its podium.

      Daniel Harding was Simon Rattle’s assistant in Birmingham when he was 18 years old.

      (Can you imagine if Levine had hired a 18 year old assistant at the Met? Le scandale!)

      • Rgiarola says:

        There are people insisting that decisions are all based on musical skills only. Competency is just 40% of the game.

    • Wiki says:

      But if you read the review of the musical side of the performance the NYtimes basically destroys her and says the only good thing was the encore , an unknown Lithuanian piece …the Met deserves so much more and better conductors than this mediocrity

      • Rgiarola says:

        No news Wiki. 10 yrs ago east coast was accused of jealousy since they did not believe Dudamel was a top-notch artist, but just a hype. Peter Dobrin from Philly Enquirer was chased by Deb Borda PR machine among other by Borda peers such the useless art section of LA times.
        Since Bad Deb is again behind this new hype, they will do the same. Now probably the excuse will be prejudice against woman pregnant conducting.
        Don’t mess with any new money maker of them. That’s simple!