New stick in Spain

New stick in Spain


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2020

The the Orquesta de Extremadura has named a young Madrid conductor Andrés Salado as its music director from next season.



  • Fernantrumpet says:

    I have been conducted once by Salado here in Spain, and I can only say this: shameful appointment. Our recommendation to the artistic director was that he should not be re-engaged. This guy is by far one of the worst conductors I have seen on the podium. He is all image, and no-substance. He is one of the juries in a sort of TV talent show in the spanish national TV broadcasting company, and very active on social media. Behind his image there is nothing.

    • Gizmo says:

      Yet another one.

    • Violinisto says:

      Although I respect your opinion, I’d like to say that I am a professional player who has also worked with him, recently and repeatedly, and I can say there are many musicians like myself who think highly of him and respect his great quality as a conductor and as a human being. On the other hand, you seem to despise his great educational work, for example, in the only programme on Spanish TV that fosters instrumental playing, classical singing and dance on prime time. This, together with many other things he does on social media, are in my opinion praiseworthy as they show his committment to use his position as a well-known artist to keep improving our beautiful country.

      Because of all of this, I wonder if such a negative opinion you have on him is based on an experience from years ago (remember, he’s young and conductors are not born already knowing how to conduct perfectly). If that’s the case, I’d suggest you to give him another chance. Moreover, in this appointment the orchestra’s players had an important vote. That’s something to take in mind and to respect.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Unfortunately (and talking from my experience in an orchestra in another EU-country), many under-experienced (and sometimes under-skilled) conductors are pushed into careers they are not ready for. The reason for this is very complex, but has to do with the business side of orchestras and artist management, not with music. Whatever the reason, the result is that after a concert with an under-experienced conductor, us – the orchestra musicians – , make a recommendation to the powers of the orchestra not to re-engage the conductor in the future. Opportunities with major orchestras happen once, and if someone is not able to deliver, the opportunity is given to someone else the next time. Perhaps these conductors should spend a lot more time gaining experience with youth and amateur orchestras before stepping on the podium of a good professional orchestras. Conductors used to be highly experienced musicians, but things changed amd now conductors in their late 20s can be music directors of major orchestras. The question is: is this good for music and orchestras?

    • Clarineteazul says:

      Everything about this man is such a mystery: with no merits he was with Letitia Moreno and Manuel Blanco in the cover of ‘El Pais Semanal’; with no training in conducting (studied percussion) was appointed as a conducting professor at Alfonso X University; with no experience and merits was giving a Royal Prize (‘Princesa de Girona Prize’)… why? Is he such an extraordinary talent? Based on what I have seen, I don’t think so.

    • MyEstring says:

      He might not be a good conductor, but it seems he is popular because his television work, and gives the right image (young, hipster…). Remember, music skills and artistry are nowadays only one part of the equation.

    • Batallasyguerras says:

      Come on, this post smells not good…Did you read the news? He was chosen in a open process, for first time in Spain, by the members of the orchestra. OEX is a talented orchestra but, of course, maybe they are wrong… or maybe you are the trumpet prince of the north 😉

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Was this the guy who said in his bio that he was the “resident conductor of the Wiener Staatsoper” when he actually had just been listening to the rehearsals as observer (Hospitant)?

    • Lacasadelapradera says:

      Yes, he is the one. And you can find it everywhere:

      But, that is Spain. Lying is OK: you can lie on your biography or your CV and it doesn’t matter. We have examples among musicians (lying about orchestras conducted, lying about positions), among politicians (lying about thesis, about masters)…

      • Rigoletto says:

        Wow, that is one big lie!

        I started reading and found interesting that he lists the Salzburg Chamber Soloists and Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra as orchestras he conducted. When I read a conductor’s biography and see he/she lists masterclass for conducting course orchestras (as it is the case with Salzburg Chamber Soloists and Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra) as orchestras the conductor work for or performed with, I know immediately that many other things in the bio are either exaggerations or lies.

    • Ages00 says:

      LOL I can’t believe this guy actually said he was the resident conductor of the Vienna State Opera! In some countries a person who is caught in such a lie could never be appointed to any job in a public institution.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Totally non-apropos of this posting, here’s a link to the AP article about the Met’s season plans:

  • ´dgar Self says:

    that’s a pity. Extremadura deserves a good conductor for its orchestra.

    Extremadura was home to one of Spain’s best modern pianists, Esteban Sanchez, born in Orellana la Vieja, Badajoz, in 1934 and died there in 1997, having returned in 1978 to teach at the Badajoz Conservatory.

    Barenboim says he likes Sanchez’s “Iberia” better than his own and asked how Spain can keep this pianist a secret. Sanchez recorded Barios, Turina, Falla, Faure, Beethoven, and especially Albeniz for Ensayo, &tc. Brilliant Classics reissued his Albeniz in an inexpensive box. They compare with the best.

    When I got his “Iberia’ I listened to “Evocacion”, six times before going on to the second piece, to be sure of what I was hearing.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Hi ´dgar,
      I’m in total agreement with you about Esteban Sanchez. He is marvelous.
      I own two copies of his Albeniz on Brilliant Classics: one for the car and one for the house. The sound isn’t bad at all; it’s about on a par with De Larrocha’s first “Iberia”, a Hispavox recording (reissued on EMI).
      – best regards, ´reg

  • Edgar Self says:

    Greg, we must have been separated at birth, our tastes so ofen coincide. Not obligatory, but nice all the.

    When Barenboim told us he liked Esteban Sanchez’s “Iberia” better than his own, omeone said ,”We all do, Mr. Barenboim.” I have everything by Sanchez I can find, even a Spanish LP with “Navarra”, almost in Rubinstein’s class, which nobody’s is.

    You asked about Craig Sheppard’s Beethoven. I’m still looking and have marked the name

    From GPS:m Extremadura is in Spaiin’s extreme west. , along the border with Portugal. A beautiful country indeed!

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Hi Edgar,
      Yes, we do seem to be thinking along the same lines.
      I find “Iberia” to be one of the most endlessly fascinating compositions – in any genre – of all time. I never tire of listening to it.
      And my car set of E. Sanchez / Albeniz contains enough music to get me anywhere in the Bay Area coastal counties and back (depending on the traffic)!
      Have you heard the “Iberia” recording by Leopoldo Querol? It’s my favorite. It was recorded in the early 50s for Ducretet-Thomson.
      And continued good luck in locating Craig Sheppard’s Beethoven set. I came across it in a flea market (!) and bought it only because it was so cheap. I’d never heard of Sheppard before, but he quickly became one of my most admired Beethoven interpreters.
      (BTW, I’ve never been a big fan of Barenboim’s pianism. Perhaps there our tastes diverge?)

  • Anon says:

    OK, settle down, everyone. This is not an unexpected or undeserved appointment.

    First of all, Andres Salado is 37, so he’s not particularly young for a conductor. Secondly, he’s been involved with Extremadura for a while now – he’s done a great job with the Extremadura youth orchestra and a number of educational projects. So this is a logical step up.

    Here’s the thing: we are talking about Extremadura here. This is one of the poorest regions in Spain & one of its newest orchestras.There is a passionate base of classical music lovers there, and despite economic conditions, Extremadura has produced some of Spain’s top musical “exports” – stellar orchestral players who are working in big orchestras abroad. But the orchestra itself is new and unproven and struggles to survive financially.

    It must be difficult to get good guest artists/conductors in Extremadura because the region doesn’t even have a decent train service connecting it to Madrid or any other major city. So they almost need to hire someone who knows them, knows their area & understands the pitfalls of working there.

    Regarding Mr. Salado – yes, we know he’s not a Lopez-Cobos. But this is important: HE also knows it. He is a very modest guy who tries to get along with everyone & he seems quite aware of his own abilities, and that they might be limited. He treats musicians respectfully and he has none of the conductor big ego thing going on. He is fair and doesn’t try to endear himself to any one person or group in an orchestra. He reaches out to everyone fairly. Maybe he’s not the best, but he is very pleasant to work with and a genuinely nice person.

    Yes, we were all surprised when he was named as a “celebrity” judge on the Spanish classical music TV show Prodigios. He is not in the same league as the other judges on the panel. As nice as he is, it’s pretty clear to anyone who knows anything about music that he doesn’t belong there. But he’s cute and entertaining and fakes it very well. He’s an actor being a really good TV conductor.

    Prodigios is a popular show, and as might be expected, many people mistake Mr. Salado for an actual top conductor. He’s had lots of publicity. He looks the part. People know his face, who he is. Maybe this is exactly what Extremadura needs right now! He is not a bad conductor, he can certainly do the job. And importantly, the orchestra knows him and that they can count on him.

    In Spain, getting along with everyone, fitting in, being familiar to people, being someone to count on & looking the part are all very important assets. Often they trump actual ability.

    I say “well done” to both Extremadura and to Mr. Salado for this appointment. I think he’s a perfect choice and that he’ll do a great job! And maybe now he will consider relinquishing his “celebrity” judge position on Prodigios to someone more suitable.

    • Anon says:

      To the “downthumbers”: since you guys didn’t react to to the 1st post in this thread which viciously trashed Mr. Salado (I like him & I personally think this is a good appointment), criticism of him doesn’t seem to be the issue. You apparently don’t mind that.

      So, I’d guess you are Spanish readers objecting to 1. the fact that image often trumps ability in Spain, which whether or not you approve of you know is true or 2) the implication that OEX is at the bottom rung of Spanish orchestras, which you also must know is true.

      Just to refresh your memory back to 2012, when OEX nearly went under, nearly every other orchestra in Spain came forward with videos of “El Candil” to support OEX. That’s never been done for any other Spanish orch. Everyone knew and knows now that the OEX situation is fragile.

      How can you expect a top name conductor or even a rising talent who’s an outsider to competently take charge of an orchestra like that? Mr. Salado knows OEX, he’s proven his commitment to the young musicians there and he’s a good choice. Period.

      And as far as the Prodigios panel, do you all seriously think that Andres Salado is at the same level in the conducting field as Ainhoa Arteta in opera or Nacho Duato in ballet? Even Ara Malikian was better as a guest judge.

      So yeah, I’m speaking unpleasant truths to the Spanish/OEX social media mob which I know lurks in these Slipped Disc threads. Downthumb me all you like but you know I’m right. If not, why not explain your point of view? Or maybe your English would give you away. . .

      • Anon says:

        Geez, there are people in this thread who really despise Andres Salado. Maybe you are the candidates who weren’t chosen for this job.

        Why don’t you explain your point of view instead of showering posts saying anything good about Salado with dislikes? We have no idea what you are disliking about this.

        • FrauGeigerin says:

          Never heard of Salado’s work before this appointment, but I had heard from my colleagues that some minor spanish conductor was claiming to had served as ‘resident conductor’ of the Wiener Staatsoper (a blatant lie).

          I don’t agree that knowing the conductor before the appointment is important. We performed with our current Chefd. only twice before was named Chief Conductor. I prefer a good conductor rather than someone I know, because I am working with the conductor not dating him/her.

          You say he is aware of his music and conducting limitations, and so are you. I saw the videos, and I agree that he is (very, in MHO) limited (on the other hand, limited conductor is the norm, even in major orchestras!). My question is: why the appointment of a limited conductor? Was Salado just appointed because he is, even though as limited as he is, known by the orchestra? Why not one of the many talented and skiled spanish conductors working with some of the best orchestras and opera houses in Germany, Austria, UK, France…? (Two seasons ago we had a terrific spanish guest conductor, and he told me that he would love to work in Spain, but he is only rarely invited to conduct there.) If image is so important in Spain, why not change that by appointing the best conductor available and then educate patrons on the qualities of the chosen music leader?

          I cannot help thinking that your praise of this young conductor is motivated just by your personal relationship with him.

          • Anon says:

            Again, he is 37, which is not a particularly young conductor.

            As far as my praise, let’s just say that when a conductor like this is appointed, musicians everywhere else can breathe a sigh of relief because he’s off the market. Less chance other orchestras have to endure him. So yes, I am very happy he was appointed in Extremadura.

      • Cacereña says:

        I find interesting that you have nothing to say about the lies in the biography of Salado. Do you think someone who lies in their biography should be appointed to receive a public salary?

        • Anon says:

          Good point. But you’re holding a conductor to a higher standard than the top politicians governing Spain.

          • Cacereña says:

            The standards should apply to anyone who receives a penny from public funds, from the prime minister to the last bureaucrat, and that includes conductors.

            We should expect the best always the best from everyone. If someone lies in a public employement hiring process (oposición) is automatically disqualified. The same standards we have to apply to Mr Salado and to whoever does not do the things right.

            If it is true that he was not the Resident Conductor of the Vienna State Opera and he said that publicly, he should not be allowed to work for a publicly founded institution.

          • Anon says:

            Well, OK, then someone should bring this point forward to the Junta of Extremadura, or whoever is responsible for hiring him. It’s a a valid point.

            But as I’m sure you know, it would take a monumental effort to undo a govt. appointment like this. You can’t just sit here and whine to us about the injustice. If you feel strongly about it, contact a Spanish classical music press source. There is also a powerful classical music social media lobby in Extremadura who could sway the decision, but on the other hand, they could be supporting Salado.

            This type of appointment happens more often than you’d think in Spain, and usually the path of least resistance is to just let him do his contract of 2 or 3 yrs. and then not renew him. It’s a lot easier than fighting the system.

            Meanwhile, for those 2 or 3 years the rest of us in other orchestras are mostly spared from him.

          • RIGOLETTO says:

            So, orchestras should accept the not-so-good candidates conducting-wise if they are good for the non-musical side of the orchestra, and people in other orchestras should be pleased because the conductor is in an another orchestra and not in their orchestra.

            It is a waste of time to report people who used false information in their bios or CVs. And it is OK to have a jury member in a TV program who is not of the same league and let everyone think that he is (let’s not educate audiences on real excellency).

            In other words, we should let mediocrity run its course…

  • Edgar Self says:

    Sprry, Greg, not Alagna but Jose Cura’s “Anhelo” CD for Eduardo Delgado’s Piazzola piece “Adios nonino”.I played it once for Pavel Chesinski, who chased down the Brazilian pianist Lima in the Philippine to get a copy of the music. Delgado is from Rosario, Argentina, but I think has been active in California. It’s one of the great pano records. Sign me for this purpose Edgardo el Mismo. The Neruda verses are from “Poems of love and death”. Viva Il Postino!

  • JSB says:

    Why you all have so many spare time to criticise this guy and don’t work as hard as he do? Maybe is the reason you are here discussing and not succeeding? Best of lucks mates!! 😉

    • Rigoletto says:

      This is typical of what I experienced while working and living in Spain: criticism is always responded with accusations of envy or incompetence. That is one of the reasons behind the lack of improvement in orchestras in Spain, and the country as a whole: spaniards often just want to hear how great things are.

      JSB, I have read here well-founded criticism. Using time to comment here does not mean that people are not at the top of their profession or that there is a personal interest in attacking this conductor. On SD comment world-leading conductors, members of major orchestras, famous singers, published musicologists, and music lovers from all over the world. Do not assume that those criticising this conductor they are not qualified to do so, have no career, or are motivated envy, jealousy, or resenment.

      • JSB says:

        Rigoletto I am not saying they are not qualified to, I am just saying how easy is to publish something under a nickname in this website to criticise and how difficult is to succeed in life. If they spend all this energy in being better professionals I am sure they will get better results.

        • Rigoletto says:

          You are missing the point: WHY do you think they are not at the top of the profession? Why do you think I (or they) are not well above Salado’s level in their fields?

          What do you know about any of the persons publishing comments here. You would be amazing of the names of the people who write comments here.

          Again: accept the comments and do not reply to them making a judgment of what you do not know.

          • JSB says:

            Not missing any point, just wondering if all the people could put their real names here instead of putting a nickname. If I were a top talented musician and I have a very good formed opinion, I don’t see the reason not to criticise someone with my real name. I bet most of people here haven’t reached their goals. By the way, I am Juan Sánchez, I do not a professional classic musician but I work in the industry since 15 years ago. Don’t have to hide my name. Can everyone do the same? It definitely will be fairer….

      • Anon says:

        Rigoletto: “lack of improvement in Spanish orchestras”??? Are you out of your mind? You are really out of touch. During the past 30 years, the level of Spain’s orchestras has rocketed. There are 26 full time pro orchs in Spain, many of them world class.

  • Ricardo says:

    I know nothing whatsoever about Mr. Salado, so good luck to him (and the orchestra)!
    However, let’s remember that the Orquesta de Extremadura was started in 2000, in cooperation between the Extremadura Council and the conductor Jesús Amigo. Prior to its inception there was no orchestra in the region. Amigo (who certainly IS a real musician and a superb conductor, who knows his craft and is able to use it artistically – I can say this because I have known him for 43 years) built up the orchestra to excellent standards. During his tenure they made many recordings, explored a lot of unusual repertoire, cooperated with world-class soloists and built a large subscription audience. I was fortunate to be part of one of their projects in 2008: three concerts and a CD recording of music by Joly Braga Santos with Gérard Caussé and the late María Orán as soloists. I found an orchestra that played and interacted superbly, only a whisker away from top international level. Alas, after 11 years of artistic and financial prosperity, the economic crisis hit and a new CEO took over. Said CEO was “politically connected”, had no idea about either music or business and quickly brought the orchestra into deficit. He subsequently stepped down, but the damage was done. Then the new president of the Extremadura government had the nerve of accusing Amigo of bringing down the regional economy with his (by international, even national standards) modest wages as artistic director and conductor. In the end Amigo (who spent six months working without pay) had not choice but to step down as leader of an orchestra he had effectively created and built up from nothing to an ensemble of commendable quality. His name mysteriously disappeared from the orchestra’s website, as if he had never existed.
    And so it goes…
    He is now working as conductor at the Royal Madrid Royal Conservatory.
    Some links (in Spanish) to interviews with Jesús Amigo at the end of his time with OEX:

  • Extremeñaforever says:

    I think the Junta de Extremadura, is bringing Andres Salado because he is popular, not for artistic reasons. Perhaps they hope that having a name that is popular among non-musicians for his participation in Prodigios will bring more atention to the orchestra and Extremadura.

    I am a pianist, so I cannot comment on his qualities as conductor, but what I hear from my work colleagues is not particularly positive.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Re Ricardo’s comments above. Three cheers for Joly Braga-Santos’s music, partiularly his third symphony. OEC’s recording joins those of Braga-Santos’s friend Cossutto with Portuguese and other orchestras. This music will long outlast the present brouhaha, unsettling as it is for those involved. Viva Braga-Santos~ And viva Extremadura!

    I have recordings of Braga-Santos’s six symphonies, chamber and concerted works. The third symphony is my favorite, a modern tonal masterwork with something to say.

    By the wy, Esteban Sanchez studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris, as did Joaquin Rodrigo, but Sanchez’s first teaher Julia (?) Parody, and later Carlo Zecchi also deserve credit for teaching him, and he won several European honors, medals, and competitions. Evidently he died as the result of a highway accident, which is a great loss and pity. There are, or were, YouTube videos of him performing in his later years in Spain. Cortot called him a genius and was not wrong. His Beethoven rondo and fourth concerto are as fine as his French and Spanish music.

    • Ricardo says:

      Number four is the one that does it for me 😀 But they are all excellent, and all he other pieces. The string concerto is aclassic. Cheers!

      • Edgar Self says:

        Hola, Ricardo! It may be Braga Santos’s fourth ymphony I meant instead of his third … very folklorico, lots of horn and clarinet, con moto “traveling” music as though for a good film about going somewhere, maybe to Extremadura. I’m not able to check it right now.

        Postscriptum. The good Spanish pianist who plays Albeniz’ “Iberia” on Naxos is Guillermo Gonzales, who also write the wonderful album notes for his CDs.

        P.S.S. Toay is Federico Garcia Lorca’s birthday. Trigo y cinturas. Saludos — Edgardo el Mismo

  • Anon says:

    Does anyone know who the other finalists were for this position?

  • JSB says:

    What about speaking in Spanish? Anyone here is English native or are we all Spaniards? Anyway, this guy has been finalist twice in top talent European conductor contests, has directed more than 5 times some of the bets orchestras in Europe and Latin America…. I don’t think this is also only because he’s handsome. And btw, the conductor position for the OEX is not a public tender, it is one of the first times in history that this position has been directly elected by the musicians. By the musicians, you all read ok. Anyone want to unmask himself or are we going to continue with nicknames? Juan Sánchez is mine! Come on guys be brave the same way you judge Salado’s career!

    • RIGOLETTO says:

      What? Please name those two ‘contests’. Salado has never been either finalist in a major conducting competition or conducted a major orchestra in Europe. Please NAME the “best European orchestras” Salado has conducted and the two major “contests”. Half of what you read in his bio is just an exaggeration of merits… don’t believe what you read!!!

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      1. “What about it”? This is an English blog; moderated by a highly-regarded British music journalist; and people comment in English because most people, including myself, cannot speak more than a few words in Spanish. If you want to write in Spanish there are other forums where you can do so, the same way I can comment in German somewhere else.

      2. Do as you want with your name and nickname. I honestly couldn’t care less about people’s real identity. The comment section is interesting because we can read what people really think without fear of retaliation. In my case, giving my position in an orchestra, I cannot air openly my opinions without compromising my livelihood. If you want to give your name, good for you (perhaps you have nothing to lose), but stop disqualifying the opinion of those who chose not to. Personally I could not care less about your real name, and I don’t give more value to your ideas for commenting without a nickname.

      3. Based on the material I have found in English m, it’s obvious that Salado’s biography is highly inaccurate and directed to impress those without real knowledge of music, orchestras, and conducting.

      4. I couldn’t find anything online about Salado being a finalist in a conducting competition.