In an indulgent little piece in today’s NY Sun, Fred Kirshnit reorders the historical construct of the Big Five as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, LA, Chicago, Boston. His thoughs on the NY Phil:
Not even the best orchestra on the plaza.
Limiting our discussion to the modern era, the local Phil has been deficient for a long time. A pedestrian string sound, a tendency to lose intonation as a piece drags along, an inconsistent trumpet section, and a sometimes frightful set of French horns are just background for an ensemble that often seems to have little investment in its own performances. Add to the ensemble’s frustrating nonchalance a conductor in Lorin Maazel who simply cannot leave a piece alone and the net result is often blaring, leadfooted, and embarrassing. The worst part may be that, on certain evenings, they can still conjure a decent performance. At Avery Fisher, it often seems that attitude is more critical than aptitude.
Well, at least he got some things right.