A con­duc­tor’s qual­ity should be gauged solely by re­sults

The Herald - Arts - - GALLERIES -

the Scot­tish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra. Tic­ciati had con­ducted a su­perla­tive per­for­mance of Duru e’s Re­quiem at the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, with Bell’s an­gelic NYCoS the choir for the night.

Bell’s rave was about just how good he reck­oned Tic­ciati is, and the ex­tent to which, hav­ing now worked with him at the Fes­ti­val, he be­lieves Tic­ciati has got every­thing that it takes to be a premier league con­duc­tor. Ergo, his modest and self-ef­fac­ing com­ment to the au­di­ence. I’ll come back to that com­ment in a mo­ment, but it did make me re­alise the nearsat­u­ra­tion cov­er­age on the pages of The Her­ald that has been fo­cused on con­duc­tors ahead of the new win­ter sea­son.

We’ve run pieces on the RSNO and Stephane Den­eve’s nal sea­son, as well as in­ter­views with Robin Tic­ciati and Don­ald Run­ni­cles, in which Tic­ciati, in his cool way, raved about the SCO play­ers while Run­ni­cles, in his broad, very con­sid­ered, philo­soph­i­cal man­ner, did much the same about his BBC SSO play­ers; and, as far as I un­der­stand, the play­ers in both or­ches­tras re­cip­ro­cate those feel­ings to what­ever ex­tent.

I would be less than hon­est if I said the same feel­ings per­tained over at the RSNO with Den­eve and his play­ers. Let’s just say opin­ions are more am­biva­lent there. I’ve no­ticed some play­ers draw­ing me very long looks about my com­ments on Den­eve over the years, where some of the mu­si­cians have taken, shall we say, a rather dif­fer­ent view.

I’m re­minded of the opinion of one chief con­duc­tor (Lazarev, per­haps?) on the is­sue of con­duc­tor/ player re­la­tion­ships. I para­phrase: “A prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor is pop­u­lar for the rst 15 min­utes of his rst re­hearsal, and the last ve min­utes of his nal re­hearsal three years later, when his con­tract is over. The rest is just hard, hard work.”

Lazarev didn’t give a prover­bial stuff what they thought or said about him. I re­mem­ber him, on tour with the RSNO in Spain, stand­ing on his plat­form, lean­ing over and glow­er­ing at his charges as they as­sem­bled for a re­hearsal.

As far as Den­eve is con­cerned, all I will say is this: what­ever the feel­ings within the RSNO, it would be un­fair not to ac­knowl­edge the phe­nom­e­nal – and I do mean phe­nom­e­nal – rap­port that Den­eve has built with this coun­try’s au­di­ences, who adore what he does and the mu­si­cal re­sults from his or­ches­tra. I trust my own in­stinct: I think it’s been a fan­tas­tic ap­point­ment that has done no end of good for the RSNO and its stature.

Let’s come back to the start­ing point, Christo­pher Bell. I don’t think the great Ir­ish­man should de­fer to any of these guys. Cho­rus di­rec­tors al­ways play sec­ond ddle to con­duc­tors: but it’s the cho­rus di­rec­tor who does all the hard work, be­fore he has to hand his choir over to the man with the stick. What Bell has achieved through­out Scot­land, with the RSNO Ju­nior Cho­rus and his own otilla of choral groups that cul­mi­nate in the glo­ri­ous National Youth Choir of Scot­land, is unique and sec­ond to none.

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