Was Pappano a panic measure?main
The supine music press has hailed the LSO’s swift replacement of Simon Rattle with Antonio Pappano as ‘exciting’, ‘inspired’ and all the usual dross. Almost as if the transition had been strategically planned.
The LSO’s shill in the Times, Richard Morrison: ‘The appointment is a riposte to commentators who predicted the loss of Rattle and the decision not to proceed with a new concert hall would signal a decline in the LSO’s status as Britain’s pre-eminent orchestra.’
In fact, it is a panicked response to Rattle’s defection to Munich, a move every reader of this site had anticipated for a year but which the LSO leadership had stubbornly blindsided.
No sooner had Rattle made his announcement than red buttons were hit and the top one pinged loud. Pappano, who has been music director at Covent Garden for just under 20 years, is British born and resident and extremely well liked by the world’s best singers, needed to leave his longterm job and had developed a good rapport over several seasons with the LSO players. He’s a tremendous conductor of a wide repertoire and a gifted trainer of stable ensembles, as he has shown both at Covent Garden and at Santa Cecilia in Rome. He is also an extremely convivial, outgoing, intelligent and concerned man.
The downsides, unmentioned elsewhere, are these:
1 There has been no rush for his services. He is not favoured by the Berlin and Vienna Phils nor by the US Big Five.
2 He’s 61, a known commodity, no suprises expected. The LSO will glitter with recitals by the Kaufmann-Netrebko set.
3 He’s not a mentor of young conductors, as Rattle was.
4 He lacks Rattle’s international touring profile, beyond the UK and western Europe.
5 The appointment was so hasty it had to be announced while Pappano was in Italy, could not wait until he was home.
He’s the best choice in very bad circumstances, but why did the LSO ignore his availability when they appointed Rattle?