Top Former Philharmonic Maestro: Mehta, Masur or Maazel?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alan Gilbert Alan Gilbert (Chris Lee)

Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel are conductors of vastly different personalities and musical temperaments. All left their mark on the New York Philharmonic in distinctive ways. Before tonight's live broadcast of the Philharmonic’s opening night gala -- led by current music director Alan Gilbert -- we're looking back to the Philharmonic’s three most recent conductors.

After a last-minute surge, Zubin Mehta was your pick for who you'd like to hear conducting the New York Philharmonic in a major orchestral work. We played him at the helm of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 at noon.


Kurt Masur


Lorin Maazel

Zubin Mehta

Comments [18]

I didn't vote in this poll because I was too late. I would've had a difficult time doing so, but I think I would choose Mr. Masur for all the reasons others gave for liking him. Plus as I watch, I remember the fine playing of some fine former players: Mr. Stanley Drucker (clarinet), Ms. Jeanne Baxtresser (flute) and the late Mr. Jerome Ashby (horn). Ahhh, happy days those were!

Sep. 21 2011 06:47 PM
Listener from NYC

Mehta w/Sibelius No. 2. Rockin' choice!

Sep. 21 2011 12:30 PM
Craig Heard from New York, NY

I can only imagine that Zubin Mehta is very busy sending in glowing reviews of his otherwise dismal performance as the New York Philharmonic's conductor. He was a man who excelled at making great music boring and turning this orchestra into a shadow version of its former greatness. It was not until Kurt Masur arrived on the scene that they once again came to life and performed in an inspired dedicated way. Whether orchestra members are in love with a conductor is irrelevant. The sound and the programing is everything. Masur is the clear winner hands down.

Craig Heard

Sep. 21 2011 12:23 PM
Russ from Plainfield, NJ

It's rather like being asked to pick between a Duesenberg, a Talbot Lago, and a Delahaye. Any of the lot would be a pleasure. Each has its delights and small shortcomings. Today I'll be happy with majority rules and enjoy the ride.

Sep. 21 2011 11:57 AM
Bernie from UWS

@Barry - agreed! Boulez pioneered the "rug concerts" in Avery Fisher decades before people were talking about how to make the concert experience more inviting to young people. (Someone should bring those back, btw.) And his commissioning agenda was far more progressive than any of the others here. But the old guard subscribers protested and he was shown the door after just a few years.

Sep. 21 2011 11:53 AM
Barry from Millburn

Of these three, I'd pick Mehta for sure. But if I could pick any Phil Music Director from years past, it would be Pierre Boulez. I don't think that enough New Yorkers really appreciated what we had when he was at the helm.

Sep. 21 2011 11:36 AM

Mehta gets my vote. As a neophyte to classical music, I remember how his style drew me in and brought out elements of the music my untrained ear would never have noticed.

He had a passion for the music which was almost palpable.

Sep. 21 2011 11:29 AM
David from Old Bridge

Zubin, hands down. its something about the relationship he has with the ensemble.

Sep. 21 2011 11:05 AM
Counce from CT

I agree with Michael - Maazel. It's all in the sound he gets from the New Yorkers.

Sep. 21 2011 10:45 AM
RCA from Long Island

Masur is far over-rated. I really wonder how musical he is and whether he ever had any original musical ideas. The members of the philharmonic, who can size up a conductor in 5 minutes, were always cool about him and his manner, which bordered on being a prince, was offensive. He had reached a plateau that he did not deserve. I would have canned him long before the philharmonic board did.

Sep. 21 2011 10:44 AM
John Thomas

Kurt Mazur is my choice, hands down. I thought the Philharmonic Board treated him shamefully when they (finally) picked a replacement only a few years younger. Mazur was not charasmatic but such a craftsman! I really miss him. I've been attending concerts for nearly 40 years.

Sep. 21 2011 10:32 AM
Eileen from New York, NY

I have to agree with the crowd, Zubin Mehta for my money, is what I think of when I think of conductors! As Maryanne said - he has the passion and the "voice"!

Sep. 21 2011 10:06 AM
Maryanne Alfano from bayside, Queens, NY

I always loved Zubin Mehta's passion and expressiveness and how it gave a certain 'voice' to how pieces sounded under his baton. It may not always be about technical execution, or control ... to a listener, it sometimes just comes down to whose 'voice' do you like to hear.

Sep. 21 2011 08:20 AM
Pesach Schindler from Jerusalem,Israel

Mehta's special relationship with the orchestra blends with his musical mastery to produce performances which are consistantly transcendental .

Sep. 21 2011 08:11 AM
robert pollack

During his tenure as music director Kurt Masur drew the warmest sound and most cohesive ensemble playing I ever heard from this orchestra.

Sep. 21 2011 07:38 AM
Marie from Wanamassa, NJ

It feels ridiculous to say one is better than the other, since each is brilliant in his own way. However, one of my all time favorite recordings is Zubin Mehta conducting "Rhapsody in Blue" (for the "Manhattan" soundtrack.) So he would be my vote today, which happens to also be my birthday. Hearing that would be a nice birthday present. :)

Sep. 21 2011 07:22 AM
Bernie from UWS

I have to vote for Masur. Yes, he wasn't very charismatic and a mediocre advocate for contemporary music but his interpretations had the most depth of the three. Maazel was a superb technician but otherwise too aristocratic and haughty. Mehta was exciting bu flashy and didn't keep the Phil musicians in line. So Masur wins this for me.

Sep. 21 2011 07:13 AM
Michael Meltzer

Despite his penchant for excessive speed, I think the most discerning, most nuanced and least predictable of the three was Lorin Maazel.

Sep. 21 2011 01:54 AM

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