Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chacago Symphony gets Mutti

In something of a surprise, the Chicago Symphony has snagged Riccardo Muti as music director, which is something of a coup. Muti left La Scala in 2005 and many thought that, at 66, he wasn't ready to go back to being a full-time music director. He had turned down the NY Phil at least once, maybe twice.

I think Muti's podium manner is more than a bit overwrought, with the hair flying and sweat dripping, and it may be that he's past his creative peak. But conducting is aerobic, and it's not all that unusual for conductors to be active into their 80s or 90s. Whether I like watching him or not, I almost always enjoy listening to the music he conducts, which reflects both discipline and passion. So Chicago is probably fortunate to have him. Some conductors gain insight and maturity with age, and their work can achieve greater depth and feeling. Interesting that New York and Los Angeles are going with young wunderkinds and Chicago gets the old master.

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