Just in: Yannick to conduct German Beethoven cycle

Just in: Yannick to conduct German Beethoven cycle


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2021

The over-extended music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Met and Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain has undertaken to conduct the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe at Germany’s wealthiest concert hall this summer.

Press release:

The music director of the New York Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will conduct all of Ludwig van Beethoven’s symphonies in Baden-Baden at the beginning of July 2021. This cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) marks the beginning of a new collaboration with Yannick Nezét-Séguin in the years to come. “Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s last concert before the Corona break in Europe took place in Baden-Baden, now his first concert after this turning point will probably take place again in Baden-Baden, ” said Benedikt Stampa. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which this year is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation, recorded a now legendary Beethoven cycle under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt 30 years ago. Benedikt Stampa:Deutsche Grammophon will record and publish the new Baden-Baden cycle with the COE and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This means that Baden-Baden will once again live up to its reputation as a city of music and media. ”



  • J says:

    snore. just what the world needs….

  • Dave T says:

    We just had two years of cycles, complete and incomplete. Can’t we give poor Beethoven a rest for a bit? Or will we not see the end of it until EVERY conductor does one with EVERY ensemble, and with all the possible permutations?

    • Peteresq says:

      What is wrong with these record labels? How much can you saturate the pubic with another Beethoven Cycle. Enough already. I have the one and only Kubelik that he recorded with a differenct orchestra for each symphony.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Thank you for this comment, Dave T.
      I agree with you completely.
      And Mahler should be given a rest as well.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Great! Nothing is musically as revigorating as a new Beethoven cycle.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Seating in that hall is poor as all the seats are one behind the other in the stalls rather than being at a slant so it is difficult to see particularly if someone three rows down is leaning to watch thus blocking your view. There’s no point in going just to listen as one might as well listen to a cd.

  • Tork says:

    As if we need more white male conductors at this time.

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      More? Hardly as if he’s been created just for this story/cycle/recording!

    • Bone says:

      So if someone wrote, “as if we need more female conductors at this time,” that’d be okay? Or black? Or Jewish? To quote Joe Biden, “C’mon, man!”

    • Tamino says:

      If it‘s not a crossbreed of latino and inuit, I‘m not going anymore. Have seen all the other types. Who wants to see a white male twice? Dreadful.

  • french horn says:

    Please, please … give this poor Beethoven a rest ! We don’t need to hear one more Beethoven’s symphonies cycle or Malher’s symphonies cycle for that matter.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I haven’t heard a Beethoven symphony for almost 2 hours so I’m very happy with this news. It’s not about the music but about the reassuring idea that it’s still around. More Beethoven please! so that we can drown-out the noise from the world.

  • José Bergher says:

    The world urgently needs cycles of John Cage’s wonderful “4’33’’’’ as the only work in the concerts. The work could be played twice: once before and once after a 30-minute intermission. Total duration of each concert: 39 minutes 6 seconds. Three-week cycles should be presented during the winter, spring, summer, and autumn seasons.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Agreed. The only problem is the need for a live audience providing the background noises, as this is the meaning of the piece. It is probably a better idea for a postcorona period.

    • Guest says:

      With a woman of color conducting to make it all the more meaningful.

  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    It is irksome to Philadelphians (some of us, at least) that YNS has been using our group as a rehearsal band for such projects. Not even Muti did that.

    • Emil says:

      In Montréal, it’s the opposite: sure, YNS uses the Orchestre Métropolitain to prepare other projects. But it also gives Montréal some very high-profile concerts (Lohengrin and Parsifal in Lanaudière with top-flight soloists, Fidelio with Lise Davidsen, etc.). For Philadelphia, is it openly “rehearsals” or merely repeating programs across orchestras? I’m not sure I’d consider his Beethoven cycle last summer with the OM a “rehearsal”, for instance, given it was broadcast on DG Stage. And it seems he’s been recording quite a bit of high-profile music with the Philadelphia too.

    • Musicman says:

      Not as irksome as it is for the Met Musicians whom he has abandoned in a time of need. At least the Philadelphia musicians are getting paid!

    • CarlD says:

      He is recording a Rachmaninoff cycle with the Philadelphian (addressed in the January issue of Gramophone and reviewed in the February issue). Doing this with the COE is in keeping with similar concerts covering the Mendelssohn and Schumann symphonies. The January magazine article also address the question of being overworked, which he says is not a problem. As the review of the first Rachmaninoff release is quite a rave, I’d say he could be correct.

    • chris says:

      For the classical to romantic repertoire, YNS seems to prefer a smaller ensemble, so the COE is a natural choice.

      On top of the Rachmaninoff project, DG has also been recording live performances of Stravinsky in Philly for the last few years. Not sure when these will get released.

      What *is* irksome to me is that some of the live performances that DG records in Philly are poorly recorded/edited. Bernstein Mass was a fine performance live, but the quality of the recording is horrible. Mahler 8 fared a little better.

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      ==using our group as a rehearsal band
      The LSO used to complain about similar when Abbado slogged through Mahler symphonies with them – only to go and record them in Vienna

  • Barry says:

    While I’m also not excited by the prospect of this Beethoven cycle, is there any conductor who is actually “over-extended” at this point?

    • Couperin says:

      I read that as a pretty sarcastic joke..

    • John Borstlap says:

      In the twenties, well-known conductor [redacted] was so stretched-out with Beethoven concerts that he snapped and his bits splashed all over the place. It took hours to get them together again so that he could continue conducting but the real heroic spirit was gone. (From a review in the Musical Times, August 1927.)

  • MET FAN says:

    Here’s an idea, how about record something with your orchestra in NYC that has been shut down for almost a year now with no salary? Jesus, how does he sleep at night.

  • Couperin says:

    I find it amusing how many comments on this article are sick of Beethoven being overplayed… (I hear that, but I’m MORE sick of Yannick being treated as if he were a great maestro and not a little hack)… And yet, if this were another thread about musicology or people calling out classical music and its historical whiteness, they’d be crying into their Beethoven cycle box sets, having contests over who wrought the most emotional weight out of the slow movement in Symphony 7, or who chose the right tempo for the first movement of Symphony 5.

    Jokes aside, Yannick sucks, in my most humble of opinions.

    • Terry says:


    • Bone says:

      I don’t believe for a second that you are amused: as most of your ilk, you only derive emotional meaning from hate and divisiveness. You are grotesque. I hope your racial viewpoints become the exception rather than the norm, but – alas – we music lovers are stuck with your kind for a while, it seems.

  • Emil says:

    Why “over-extended”?

  • chris says:

    This beethoven cycle was originally planned for 2020, but obviously that had to be postponed. Also, they will most likely be using Breitkopf’s new editions of the symphonies.

  • Sabrinensis says:

    A Beethoven cycle! This announcement fills me with ennui.

  • JussiB says:

    my favorite Beethoven symphony cycle is the Hanover Band.

  • Freddy says:

    Are they going to add a vocal part so that Villazon can play baritone some more?

  • Harpist says:

    Would be nice to see him a bit more active in supporting his Met Orchestra… He didn’t really excel in that arena, did he.

  • Eduardo says:

    Since YNS is the best conductor that ever existed it is right that he should record anything he wishes with whichever orchestra he desires, he may even create new orchestras if he finds the time to train them. And why should he worry about the Met Orchestra? It is not his problem. He is only a much admired conductor. And it is also right that Universal should record everything from the time he wakes up to washing his teeth and going to bed at night. I am waiting with bated breath for his recordings of Mahler, Bruckner, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms….. and all of Wagner of course…..the more the merrier……

  • Danny Bonade says:

    How about a Darius Milhaud symphonic cycle?

  • Peter Burke says:

    How tedious, yet more Beethoven as if his symphonies were not already done to death. As the great Sir Colin Davis once remarked “Too much banging about!” Beethoven was a sexually frustrated, misogynistic bore who stole most of his best ideas from Mozart.