Bernard Chasan responds to Roger Hecht:
>>Better a lot of people than Jimmy "The Hut". (Fabulous nickname.
>>Congratulations.) Just heard a rather dull Mahler 3 from Jimmy, though
>>two caveats. 1) I heard it over the radio, and 2) I'm told the previous
>>night's was better. What I heard was the Friday matinee.
>I attended the Saturday evening performance of the Mahler Third and
>found it anything but dull. I also fail to see what is so fabulous about
>Schwartz's' nicknane for Levine, "jimmy the Hut".
Moment of weakness, I must confess. It's the kind of thing I'd have
never thought of, creatively speaking, and it just grabbed me.
>In truth Levine does not cut a graceful figure on the podium, but what
>does that have to do with his conducting abilities?
It actually might affect them, just as being out of shape makes playing
an instrument hard to do. Playing and conducting music is a physical
enterprise, and physical condition is important.
I readily admit that I have never been fond of Levine as a conductor.
In his young days, he seemed brilliant, but too often a slasher. Now
he seems to be a "slow" conductor, for example turning Nabucco into
Parsifal. I found his Ives Second beautiful but lacking energy. (It
died, but died beautifully, was my comment at the time.) His Schoenberg
Pelleas waswell thought out but lacking color and distinction--very
disappointing. Too bad because it discouraged me from going to his
Gurrelieder, which I heard was quite good. Of course, I have to admit
that because I feel as I do, I haven't followed his career much at Boston,
so who knows what I'm missing. Returning to the question of physical
conditioning, I realize that conductors aren't Olympic athletes, but I
don't considir it beyond the realm of possibility that Levine's condition
has affected his conducting.
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