Daniel Harding pitches low for Concertgebouw job

Daniel Harding pitches low for Concertgebouw job


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2019

As job interviews go, this one is notably low-key.

The British conductor, who is leading the C’bouw on a US tour in place of the dismissed Daniele Gatti, gives an obligatory eve-of-tour interview to the parish paper.

But instead of puffing out his chest and doing the global maestro shtick, Harding lets the conversation centre on his litany of failures in America. “I haven’t found in the U.S. — I haven’t found my place, so to speak,” Mr. Harding said in a phone interview. 

Zachary Woolf zones in quite rightly on his ‘notably graceful candor.’

If this is a job interview, it’s a first-time fail. And the pictures are likewise defeatist.

But Harding may be playing a different game. The Dutch don’t like tall poppies or swagger sticks. The humble tone may be the right one to impress this bunch of players. They are the voters in this election, not the writers and readers of the NY Times.

Was this what his PR advised?

If so, good call.

UPDATE: C’bouw in Chicago: first review



  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I have always thought of Harding as a future London Symphony conductor. He would be a rather safe/conservative choice. I hope Dutch will emulate Berliners and make a daring/inspired choice.

    • tristan says:

      but Harding much less exciting than Kiril Petrenko, no companion

      • David H Spence says:

        Kirill Petrenko is exciting? How? Why? His Berlin PO visit to the Proms last summer was good to mediocre, depending on which piece he was doing. His Trittico from Munich, after a little better than mediocre Otello from there, was for the most part dreadful, partly due to a few of his singers and a really lousy production too, but in large part due to him as well. Harding maybe isn’t, much of the time, too terribly exciting either.

  • Pedro says:

    I hope he doesn’t get the job. Someone who can’t conduct Don Giovanni properly as I have heard in Salzburg in 2006 doesn’t deserve to lead the best orchestra in the world. They should invite Mälkki for instance, who conducted yesterday a superb performance of Rusalka at the Bastille, or Mikko Franck who last week leaded the Santa Cecilia in a stupendous performance of Franck’s d minor symphony in Rome. My other favourites ( Barenboim, Thielemann, Salonen, Gergiev, Yannick, Muti, Nelsons ) are busy elsewhere and Mirga is too young.

  • Onlythetruth says:

    How do you cancel San Francisco in the later portion of February due to a shoulder injury and conduct the tour now? Not possible.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Harding has a repetitive strain injury. If I recall correctly, it was stated elsewhere here on SD that while he is able to conduct, he was told to cut down on engagements.
      As to cancelling in San Francisco, it does make sense…he has to reduce the number of engagements, he “hasn’t found [his] place” in the United States and his debut with the SFS last year was, by most accounts, rather tepidly received.

  • anon says:

    I think orchestras are pretty much over the whole idea of the transformative wunderkind.

    If it appears to have worked in Los Angeles, that’s because the 30-something wunderkind was paired with the 70-something wonder woman (Borda).

    Absent a Borda on your side, you need proven, long-term experience in managing and leading 100 people, at progressively higher levels.

    Harding is still struggling with a spotty record in terms of reliability (keeping engagements), even artistically (he does not get uniformly good reviews).

    It’s good and telling that Borda invited him back to NY after 8 years, he needs that kind of support. Prematurely appointing someone hurts that person more than it helps him.

  • MacroV says:

    With respect to the Concertgebouw, I can at least say their rendition of Ein Heldenleben last night in Washington was fantastic. Of course the orchestra can do it well with any conductor so I’m not necessarily going to say it’s a vote in his favor for the permanent job.

    BTW, he was walking with a limp, though his conducting motion was fine.

  • kuma says:

    His Chicago performance was rather patchy. I hope Concertgebouw get someone more inspiring than Harding.

    • Robert Groen says:

      Nothing against Harding, who I think is a reliable conductor of mainstream repertoire but the Concertgebouw should really kneel in the dust before Daniele Gatti, apologize and beg him to come back. The orchestra deserve the best there currently is (Gatti) and poking around for replacements at a level below is a humiliation for a band that played with the likes of Mengelberg, Jochum, Van Kempen, Van Beinum, Monteux, Haitink and (more recently) Chailly.

  • barry guerrero says:

    Being a Mahler enthusiast, all I can add is that I picked up his recent Mahler 9 (Harmonia Mundi) and own a ‘pirate’ of a live performance of Mahler 3, both with the Swedish Radio Orchestra. Both are very, very good, to say the least. Seems to me that that would bode well for a possible match with the Concertgebouw. I’ve never seen him live, but the RCOA needs a conductor who thoroughly knows these big Mahler canvases in order to continue that tradition, don’t you think?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Mahler is the composer that Harding has the best reputation in.

      The problem for Harding is that he had too much, too young, and came across as an arrogant, slightly brash, immature twat. He really should not have taken quite so many engagements at the top orchestras when he wasn’t ready. He would have been better making his mistakes at smaller orchestras while he learnt his trade (and everybody makes mistakes). Of course, most of this was many years ago.

  • Frederick says:

    Daniel Harding is really an outstanding young conductor and I have enjoyed every one of his concerts I visited over many years, particularly in Mahler he has a lot to offer. His modest (“non-Maestro”) style is actually very pleasant and effective. He would be great at the helm of the Concertgebouw, though I’d be sad if he gave up the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for it…

  • Karl says:

    I heard Harding with the Orchestre de Paris in Berlin with an uninspired performance of Beethoven and Berlioz. But the musicians like him