Monday, January 19, 2009

Gilbert Kaplan and Mahler's 2nd symphony

Interesting digression from the routine stuff. Gilbert Kaplan is a maverick American economist and financier, whose life-long obsession with Gustav Mahler's second symphony, The Resurrection, has turned him into one of the leading experts on interpreting this hugely impressive work. Fascinatingly, Kaplan is a sort of one-trick pony and conducts only Mahler's second symphony, and has conducted at all the leading Orchestras of the world.

As expected of high-culture, especially in a reclusive field like conducting classical music at the highest level, Kaplan's cheek and persistence as an amateur, has won both admirers and critics. The Economist pays a glowing tribute, saying that an "unskilled dreamer could teach professionals how to bring off a masterpiece is a fantasy that many share but few presume to achieve". In stark contrast, David Finlayson, a trombonist in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, described him a "charlatan" and "impersonator", and excoriated him in his blog. The NYT has this more balanced perspective of Kaplan.

PS: Surprisingly, I could not find any recording of Mahler's 2nd symphony conducted by Gilbert Kaplan in You Tube.

No comments: