Last week, the 35-year-old Quebecois, who is music director-designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, gave just a few weeks notice that he was canceling his much-anticipated Chicago Symphony Orchestra début this month -- announced almost a year ago -- "for personal reasons." (See my story here.) His transatlantic calendar is busy enough this winter, so many figured that the pressure was on in Philadelphia for him to focus his U.S. dates at Verizon Hall. But YN-S, his management, and the PO all offered no explanation and remained mum while Chicago ticket-buyers were ticked and CSO musicians were left scratching their heads.
Now New York Times music critic James R. Oestreich, in a mixed review -- posted Friday at nytimes.com and slated to appear in Saturday's Times -- of Nézet-Séguin's Thursday night PO concert (Debussy's Nocturnes and the Mozart Requiem), reports as follows:
"Mr. Nézet-Séguin was originally scheduled to make his debut at the Cleveland Orchestra this weekend but re-allotted the dates to Philadelphia after his appointment was announced, to give him a greater presence here this season. That sort of thing is not uncommon, as a matter of courtesy -- or negotiation -- between orchestras.
"He now amplifies in a statement released by the Philadelphia Orchestra: 'Due to an overly taxing fall schedule, I made the extremely difficult decision to create additional time in my schedule for rest and study.'
"Mr. Nézet-Séguin is evidently content to put all his American orchestral eggs in one basket, and Philadelphia, as it emerges from a painful interregnum, seems happy to have them."
That all sounds like what many of us suspected. And perhaps with his eggs happily placed in the Philadelphia basket there was no need for him or his new orchestra to share his elaboration with the press or public in Chicago.
(And thanks to Jim Oestreich for linking to The View from Here !)