Like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic–its fellow members in the Big Five of American orchestras–the Philadelphia Orchestra has new artistic leadership. Gone is the glamorous and youthful Riccardo Muti (for Milan’s La Scala), and succeeding him is the 70-year-old Wolfgang Sawallisch. Thoroughly German-trained, Sawallisch spent much of his career in his native Munich, where his last post was at the head of the Bavarian State Opera. He also holds the distinction of being the youngest person ever to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival, in 1957 at age 34. Sawallisch takes the Austro-German approach to conducting: precise, rigorously formal, and unostentatious. That should be quite a switch for the Philadelphians accustomed to Muti’s florid gestures and his predecessor Eugene Ormandy’s romantic impulses. It’d be interesting to hear their opinions of Sawallisch’s Germanic logic as applied to this potpourri program: Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Schumann’s Symphony no. 4, and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. At the very least, it’s always a pleasure to hear live the orchestra’s rich, velvety string section. Monday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve J. Sherman.