Concertgebouw unrolls its list of candidates

Concertgebouw unrolls its list of candidates


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2019

The orchestra has just put out its 2019-20 season.

These are the guest conductors from whom the next music director will likely be chosen.

A great many renowned guest conductors are leading the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2019–20. Daniel Harding gets the ball rolling with Act 2 of Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. The festive RCO Opening Night on 13 September features Franz Welser-Möst conducting works by Tchaikovsky, including the Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen as soloist. Another guest conductor featured this season is Christian Thielemann, who is returning for the first time since 2002 with Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony.

Herbert Blomstedt, for his part, will be conducting the Fourth. Mariss Jansons leads the orchestra in two programmes with works including Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra. Under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, the orchestra is performing Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps and Willem Mengelberg’s 1924 version of the Adagio and Purgatorio from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10.

Myung-whun Chung is leading the orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on subscription concerts and the Third and Ninth Symphonies at the 2020 Mahler Festival organised by the Concertgebouw. Emmanuelle Haïm is conducting a captivating Baroque programme, and Thomas Hengelbrock is leading the orchestra in works by Handel, Rameau, Beethoven and others. Sir John Eliot Gardiner is conducting Schumann’s Szenen aus Goethes Faust. Elim Chan is leading the orchestra in a Children’s Concert, while this season’s conducting masterclass is presided over by none other than Iván Fischer (pictured right).

An extensive tour of Taiwan and Japan with conductor Paavo Järvi is planned for November. 



  • Rgiarola says:

    Sounds like a realistic list, without artificially included names just for the hype to be in this list.

  • concertgebouwfan says:

    Give us Daniele Gatti back!

    • aj says:

      What they need is a Kaspszyk of the Warsaw Phil
      He has already made the Warsaw better than the

  • Steve says:

    I would go for Myung-whun Chung. South Korea still don’t know what they have lost…

  • Sarcastico says:

    No Alondra?

      • Jerome Hoberman says:

        It seems to me that at 50 Blomstedt and Haitink were considered fine but historically inconsequential conductors; at 30 they were nobodies except locally. Now they’re geniuses.

        Of course RW2013 and all of those who post snarky comments about young conductors have themselves had the experience in their 20s of standing in front of 100 consummate experts in their 30s to 60s, armed only with talent, study, sincerity, courage and potential, and commanded them without benefit of the ability to hire or fire, using only persuasion in addition to the above, and received as committed a response.

  • Dave says:

    All are pretty good choices. Slight preference for Jarvi, Chung or Fischer.

  • Karl says:

    Myung-whun Chung has the musicianship, experience, and authority for this post.

  • Barry says:

    As an aside, I had tickets to see Thielemann conduct Bruckner’s 5th with the RCOA in late 2001, but he cancelled and Inbal conducted the concert instead. I wonder if he returned the next year to conduct it or if the above note on him having conducted in there in ’02 is an error, in which case it would be even longer since his last RCOA appearance. I doubt he’s a serious candidate.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Thielemann conducted the KCO in December 2002 with Tchaikovsky.

    • Barty says:

      He did return in 2002 conducting a concert which included Tchaikovsky 6.
      I seriously doubt that he could be tempted to leave Dresden.

      • Tamino says:

        His workload in Dresden is not that big. He could easily do like Nelsons and command two top orchestras.
        The same can probably be said about van Zweden, if he let go of anyone but the NY Phil…

    • Max Grimm says:

      I guess it would be more accurate to say that Thielemann conducted the KCO in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony in 2002.
      Thielemann conducting ‘with’ Tchaikovsky would have been quite a feat…

  • MacroV says:

    A lot of those people are probably not candidates. Most are too old to have interest in another MD job. Jarvi, Chung, Van Zweden, Hengelbrock, and Harding would seem to be in the right age range for the job. Thielemann could be an inspired choice.

  • WDP says:

    Sorry Norman, but I cannot find several of the concerts you mention on the website of the Concertgebouw: Welser-Möst/Janssen, Gardiner with Faust, etc

  • Emil says:

    Or not. Who says they’re hiring this year? The season was most likely already completely planned when Gatti was fired six months ago, so unless they were psychic or re-planned their whole season after the firing, we might have to wait a year or two (or they might hire someone who has conducted them in the past but happens not to be on the roster next year).

    • Saxon Broken says:

      They would have had to find replacements for the concerts Gatti was originally scheduled to conduct. These would be an opportunity to see potential candidates.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Is Jaap a Nope?

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    The RCOA has a great Mahler tradition. Sorry, but I’ve been anything but impressed with M-W Chung’s recorded Mahler. I’m not at all impressed watching him on Youtube either. My feelings have nothing to do with him being Asian. I think they’re great Bruckner/Mahler/R. Strauss tradition would be better maintained by Ivan Fischer or Paavo Jarvi. Van Zweden, Thielemann and Welser-Most all seem pretty well set already.

    • barry guerrero says:

      Sorry for the ‘typo’. Obviously I should have typed “their” and not “they’re”. And I must be doing something right if I’m getting so many thumbs down! I stand my ground and don’t care what others think.

  • bsimpson says:

    I will become a subscriber of NY Phil again if Jaap is shipped to Amsterdam.

  • Robert Groen says:

    As a list of casual visitors to the Concertgebouw rostrum this is very impressive. Not one of them has a natural right to usurp the position of the scandalously ousted Daniele Gatti but other than that, these are all big, big names. Whether any of them will fancy a permanent appointment after what was done to Gatti, I very much doubt. Amsterdam now comes with a pretty emphatic health warning. But if they’re willing to put their careers on the line for a wink, a nod, a touch or even a kiss, then these are my preferences. Without any disrespect to the others I would first go for those most versed in the Austro-German repertoire, such as Welser-Most or Thielemann, both of whom can be implicitly trusted in the likes of Richard Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms etc. But, as I said, no disrespect to any of them: Fischer, Eliot Gardiner, Chung and Jarvi (who does such splendid work with the Frankfurt RSO), They are all great names. Even Emmanuelle Haim (who may be a bit restricted in her repertoire) is a very fine musician, as is, of course, Herbert Blomstedt, who may be just a bit on the old side for a steady job with the RCO. So, to wrap it up here’s my choice: Thielemann or Welser-Most ex aequo.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “But if they’re willing to put their careers on the line for a wink, a nod, a touch or even a kiss…”

      Huh? If they don’t sexually harass the musicians then they will not have any problems.

  • debusschubertussy says:

    Jaap van Zweden is a candidate? Isn’t that a bit soon after taking the NY Phil post?

  • Well, freely paraphrasing Sir Thomas Beecham: why choosing a bloody foreigner as the new KCOchief in Amsterdam, while in the Netherlands there is enough mediocre talent?

  • Peter van Laarhoven says:

    You forget to mention Sokhiev

    • Brian says:

      Indeed, and I have a strong inkling he is or will become a hot favourite. Very talented, perfect age (which happens to be my own age, too, but I only checked after writing the word “perfect”), enough experience etc.

      If being in one’s late 60s is no object, I would love to see Iván Fischer get the job first. Absolutely wonderful conductor.

      • Rgiarola says:

        It would ne like Petrenko’s choice in 2015. No one expecting it. I would like to another surprise like that!

        • Saxon Broken says:

          K.Petrenko was known and well regarded in Germany itself. He won several awards. It is just that he was barely known outside Germany.

  • Alexander Rigas says:

    Where is Honeck?