An early front runner

By | September 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | No comments | Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition Live Blog 2012

‘Follow the money’ is supposed to be the way to get to the bottom of crime thriller. And if you want to figure out the motive for a murder, ‘cherchez la femme’. But could it be, to figure out the next big thing in the conducting world, you need only look for the one with the curly hair? You know, Rattle, Ticciati…

If so, that would make Alexandre Bloch favourite for this year’s Donatella Flick competition. It’s lunchtime at the Barbican now, all three have had their first rehearsal with the LSO, and on the basis of the morning session, he would surely be bookies’ favourite (although of course I haven’t actually checked). Certainly, or so I’m told, he was the choice of the Guildhall orchestra yesterday.

Bloch works fast in rehearsal, the impression is that he has a lot he wants to say and has figured out the best way to say it is to be as efficient as possible with the time available to him. Having played through the second movement of the Debussy without stopping, for example, he then sets to work on the many details he wants to put into place. Playing through a passage, he will stop as soon as there’s something he feels isn’t right.  When asked a question, he answers decisively. The atmosphere is busy, like, I don’t know, some kind of dressmaking workshop where lots of intricate pieces are being worked on at once, with Bloch as haberdasher-in-chief.

The risk in working this way is that he will unthinkingly say something offhanded or out of place, offending a key player in his haste to get work done. I haven’t noticed it happening, and he has been nothing but respectfulness incarnate, but the possibility is tantalisingly there. Maybe this afternoon?

Chances are that Ben Gernon, up second before the orchestra, would avoid such an inadvertent gaffe – he gives instructions clearly and deliberately, and when he addresses the orchestra he invariably does so with a ‘ladies and gentlemen’ at the start, even if it’s just to apologise for picking such a terrible colour of shirt for today’s appointment.

Gernon was alone in choosing to play through his entire allotment of pieces – all get the overture to Der Freischutz, their own movement of La mer and their own assortment of movements from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet – in this session. Presumably this is to give him lunchtime to work out exactly what to work on in most detail in his afternoon slot and also ensuring that the orchestra have seen him conduct everything as early as possible.

For his part, Bloch will probably spend most of the afternoon on the Prokofiev (he hasn’t touched it yet), while Karampini will need to get through both the Weber and Prokofiev (she hasn’t touched them). Will we see a mad scramble from either of them this afternoon when they clock that time is running out and they still have music they have yet to rehearse?


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