From the experienced Tom Manoff’s review of the decapitated festival:
I’ve been attending and reviewing OBF off and on since 1982. Having lived also in Stuttgart, I’m very familiar with Helmuth Rilling’s artistry. I found Matthew Halls an extraordinary successor to Rilling, and a musician who immediately brought a new life to the festival when many thought it would die without its founding artistic director.
Judging from the seven events I saw this year, OBF 2018 was below the standards of years past. Nothing distinguished it from an ordinary lineup of classical fare. No artistic vision unified the schedule or oversaw the standards of performance. Engaging with how a particular conductor thinks about music was no longer possible for devoted audience members. Following that conductor’s musical talent (first Rilling, then Halls) from year to year and piece to piece has been the most important feature of OBF. With the absence of a world-class musician heading the festival, I felt a profound artistic void.
After the festival, (executive director Janelle) McCoy said that one reason for OBF 2018’s success was the use of “more conductors.”….
Read on here.