I was pleased and optimistic when I heared Alan Gilbert had been appointed MD of the NY Phil. I’d covered for Alan at the Cincinnati Symphony (my colleague refused to watch rehearsals of anyone his own age), where I thought he got some great results, and had seen him work at Aspen, where he’d also had some kind words for my conducting at the American Academy of Conducting (although the Philharmonic still hasn’t called since he got the job…). He strikes me as more mature and grounded musically than many of the young lions of the podium who seem to be all the rage these days. Now I know why-
The unruffled impression Gilbert makes seems rooted in a bedrock of certainty about what matters to him artistically. Asked once to name the single composer whose work he’d choose to take to a desert island, he instantly cited Joseph Haydn.
“I stick to it,” Gilbert says, when I express my surprise. “He was a good example of someone who retained a youthfulness throughout his life. He lived a long life. He was called Papa Haydn. His music is witty and quirky and playful, mischievous in a way that is normally associated with much younger people. Invention and enthusiasm for creation is stronger in Haydn, for me, than just about anybody else.”