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September 07, 2008


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A.C. Douglas

His [Gergiev's] conducting technique is beyond reproach....

Excuse me?

(BTW, if it seems I'm picking on you, it's only because I find your thoughtful commentary worthy enough to spend time reading it carefully and critically.)


David Preiser

AC Douglas,

"Technique" as I define it is different from interpretation or chronic lateness or failing to properly prepare for a score. Gergiev is appreciated by musicians for his ability to quickly get things back on track with minimal gestures, to adjust balances for different halls (to his ears), etc. One wouldn't really know that from watching him, of course, but his technique is not the problem here.

I do realize that his actual (non)stick technique is not something that would be held up as a shining example in a conducting class. But he can certainly make things happen the way he wants them to, show the players what they need to see (when he wants to, anyway), and direct the flow of traffic. I know there are plenty of people who can't stand his style of conducting, but that's not the same thing as saying he can't give a cue or can't cut it on the podium. He can do that. He just has other issues which cause the problems with performances and rehearsals.

My thanks for taking the time to read my posts.

A.C. Douglas

Well, when most folks speak of a conductor's technique they mean precisely his stick technique ("stick technique" meaning the conductor's way of communicating his wishes and directions to the performers). In performance (as opposed to rehearsals of which I've no knowledge), Gergiev's stick technique is thoroughly atrocious.

That having been said, ultimately what counts — actually, the only thing that counts — is the realization of the work being performed no matter how achieved, and in this Gergiev is highly variable. I've heard absolutely first-rate from him, and also absolutely execrable, and can't help thinking that his atrocious stick technique is in some measure responsible for that variability, ergo my astonished "Excuse me?" in response to your assertion that Gergiev's "conducting technique is beyond reproach."


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