Friday, November 21, 2008

Gramophone does it again...

...they seem to specialise in making daft lists. Here is the latest: the Top Twenty Best Orchestras of the World, as relayed by The Times today. The Times itself carries a pertinent health warning about the list by its own Richard Morrison, who asks why the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela isn't on it. I could add a few things about the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the LPO under Jurowski should naturally have been in with a chance.

The predominance of "foreign" orchestras other than the LSO could, however, serve as a cultural indicator. Britain does not take its music seriously enough when it comes to funding, training and general education. It never has. And probably it never will. Even though London has the most healthy, high quality, vibrant and varied musical life of anywhere in Europe and arguably of anywhere in the world. And by the way, many non-Gram critics currently agree that the LSO has its work cut out to stay 'on top' with the fly-by-night Gergiev while Jurowski and Salonen stir up a storm on the South Bank

Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous. As Richard points out, the same band can sound like a totally different planetary formation in the same week depending on who's conducting. Only the other week I fled a concert bored absolutely to tears by a maestro who should have been put out to pasture in the donkey sanctuary. A few days later the same band, under someone whose name wouldn't surprise you, raised me clean through the rafters. There you go. At least things like this mysteriously help to keep classical music in the newspapers.

UPDATE: Here is a good response to the list from Tom Service in The Guardian.

UPDATE: We are making our own 'daft list' here at JDCMB - this time to rank the world's top ten conductors. All good clean fun. Nominations are open all weekend and the List will appear in a polling box in the sidebar on Monday.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE (TUESDAY 25 Nov): Soul-searching in Philadelphia, inspired by the ommision of The Philadelphia Orchestra from the world's top 20 (owwwch): here.