Despite Midori’s heroics, Heras-Casado disappointing in LA Phil concert of music by Kodaly, Eötvös, and Bartok
January 23, 2013 Leave a comment
Recently, whenever there has been an opening for a music directorship at an orchestra, Pablo Heras-Casado usually gets included in the list of candidates to be considered. The 30-something Spanish maestro has many admirers and proponents, and he gets his fair share of positive press. The New York Philharmonic just announced that he’ll be making his debut with that esteemed orchestra in the coming 2013/14 season.
Frankly, I don’t really understand what the fuss is all about.
This past Sunday marked the third time I’ve seen him conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic over the past few years. Taken together, those concerts have had him conducting a fairly broad swath of the repertoire: Mendelssohn, Mahler, Stravinsky, Debussy, Takemitsu, and now, Kodaly, Eötvös, and Bartok. My collective take away is that he is a competent conductor, but with thoroughly middle-of-the-road interpretations at best. Mind you, that isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; however, I’d hope that if a conductor were to go down that route, he (or she) would be able to get this orchestra to sound as good as it can — and I’ve never experienced that when Mr. Heras-Casado is on the podium at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Take Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. This is whiz-bang sort of work that, by design, should easily make an orchestra shine. The LA Phil certainly performs the piece fairly often in addition to having recorded it under three of its Music Directors (four, if you count the DVD release of the video from the 1970′s with Zubin Mehta conducting). Whenever they perform it, I expect either a nuanced performance or a rousing one — if/when we were lucky, perhaps both.
Sadly, Mr. Heras-Casado’s version this past Sunday offered neither.