Who Deserves the Baton?

Is Martin Bernheimer's patience with Esa-Pekka Salonen finally showing signs of cracking? In his review (Calendar, April 22) of the Beethoven Eighth, he comments on a "needlessly--heedlessly--fast and furious" performance. (This reminds me of what Salonen did to the Seventh a few years ago--a painful memory, indeed.)

Furthermore, he observes a lack of "tender, almost sentimental care" in the Mozart C-major piano concerto and faults the soloist as well. Finally, he implies that the Philharmonic may have come full circle in the 17 years since Zubin Mehta departed, when he compares this performance to Mehta's "brutal" approach.

All of which forces a simple question--why devote a precious afternoon or evening to music making of such dismissive stature? Clearly, Los Angeles deserves better than this in a resident conductor--we should not have to settle for excellence only when it comes to 20th-Century and "new" music.

This forces another question--will Salonen ever be able to conduct earlier music in anything more than a heartless and perfunctory manner?

This leads me to Bernheimer's nostalgic and poignant memory of the days of Giulini and Sanderling with their "grandeur" and "poetry." I know--I was there, and it's enough to make a grown man cry.

RICHARD R. McCURDY

Hollywood

For his brutal review of Salonen plus Mehta, Martin Bernheimer should be condemned to listen three times to a recording of Wilhelm Furtwangler's rendition of the Eighth Symphony, and then given a baton to conduct the last movement of the Eighth.

GERHARD HENSCHKE

Van Nuys

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