John Eliot Gardiner Sent Packing



According to his blog, “Michael Hovnanian plays bass in an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.” The description, both self-conscious and cryptic, is a thinly-veiled attempt (legal-speak?) at masking what we all know: Hovnanian is a double bassist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

If you haven’t read Hovnanian’s musings on his CSO Bass Blog, it’s totally worth a visit. His perspective as a seasoned (grizzled?) veteran of one of the world’s great orchestra is very entertaining, to say the least.

Hovnanian has written about a number of early music specialists who guest conduct the CSO now and then.

His recent post about John Eliot Gardiner‘s last-minute cancellation with the orchestra (replaced by Leonard Slatkin) takes an unexpected and imaginative turn towards the end.

Gardiner’s program of three 20th century works, a potential gold-mine of blog posts which will, alas, for now go unexplored, looked intriguing on paper – a kind of daring-do parachute drop behind enemy lines in the war between ‘period’ and ‘modern’ performance.

I can only wonder how we might have received him – snap a hood over his head and off to Guantanamo, a truly modern and up to date reaction, replete in its paranoia and intolerance, or, as in the more genteel days of the early flying Aces, a cigarette, perhaps some champagne, and with a good-natured pat on the back, send him packing across no-man’s land, the trenches, back to the 18th century.

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