After a grueling sprint, Yannick Nézet-Séguin can celebrate

During a phone call while traveling to New York on Saturday, Nézet-Séguin reflected on that well-deserved break and how he got through hi...


During a phone call while traveling to New York on Saturday, Nézet-Séguin reflected on that well-deserved break and how he got through his recent tough time. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

What made you want to say yes to Vienna?

My first instinct as a conductor is that I want to help.

I’ve made tough decisions over the past decade, regarding some opportunities in Europe with orchestras I’ve developed relationships with, such as Vienna. But my first responsibility is towards the institutions of which I am the head: it is the Met, it is Philadelphia, it is the Metropolitan Orchestra of Montreal.

So I end up having to say no very often. And now they’re here, and Carnegie – who’s been such a good partner for me in the Philadelphia Orchestra – needs my help. It didn’t take long for me to say yes.

How did you use this 75 minute rehearsal?

When I said yes, I knew that if I did a two or three hour rehearsal in the morning, the energy needed would be too much. So the orchestra told me what they expected most from me, and we fixed two or three obvious points in Rachmaninoff’s symphony. But it does appeal to what a conductor should do. You just make things work. The Rachmaninoff thrives on being free and beautiful. Some things need to be clear, but some things just need to be in the moment. I could never be stressed, because if I start to be stressed, then everyone is, and the result is bad for the public.

Because of the concerts in Vienna, you suddenly had seven more works in your head. How did you manage that, in addition to “Don Carlos” and “Tosca”?

It takes a lot of discipline, because I constantly have music in my head, but rarely the piece I’m about to do. When I’m juggling a lot of tracks like this, I almost have to press play on a recording, a mental recording. So on Rachmaninoff day, I had to force myself to open the scoring to switch to the right mode. I had a little more time on Saturday to recover and study, but I deliberately decided not to prepare for Sunday. If you take it one day at a time, it really helps.

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Newsrust - US Top News: After a grueling sprint, Yannick Nézet-Séguin can celebrate
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