Christoph Eschenbach divides listeners and critics. Here are some reactions to recent performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and
"The London Philharmonic played most beautifully for Eschenbach, with the woodwinds especially fine in their many atmospheric solo phrases. Much thought and work had clearly gone into this performance. Yet, in the end, Eschenbach's direction was too careful and too controlled to yield a classic performance. As in his very severe performance of Schubert's
. . . there was much exquisite playing and refined detail. But the creative flame of both works seemed to get doused along the way."
- Martin Kettle, the Guardian, April 17
"Why did he launch Schubert's first movement at the slowest tempo one has ever heard, then repeatedly impede forward momentum with deliberate slowings-down at the ends of paragraphs?"
- Bayan Northcott, the Independent, April 16
"Mr. Eschenbach . . . managed the traffic cop aspects of conducting this daunting work very well. He can sometimes be a fussy interpreter, but the Mahler
does not give you much leeway for that. What distinguished this performance was its directness and clarity. The symphony ends with the Mahlerian equivalent of a simple, soulful church hymn, performed here with affecting tenderness. The ovation went on and on. On this night at least the Philadelphia players and their conductor seemed at one."
- Anthony Tommasini, the New York Times, May 8
"At the end of the night, the real problem was that this performance [of Mahler's
] did not transport. The words might have indicated a journey to heaven, but the music did not follow suit."
- Fred Kirshnit, the New York Sun, May 8