RIGHTLY or wrongly (and I have no idea from which perspective people see these things) I tended to think of conductor Christian Kluxen's performance as his graduation.
Since his appointment as assistant conductor of the RSNO in 2010, he has had massive mentoring and advice from RSNO players.
He has also accrued two to three years of priceless exposure and experience across the RSNO conducting spectrum, from myriad educational and outreach projects to concerts for occasions, such as Valentine's Day events, along with wide exposure in the Children's Classics series, in which he has been brilliant, providing the perfect musical counterpoint to the resident madcap loonies Owen and Olly.
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Next summer Kluxen will be turfed out of the nest: the assistant conductorship is a one-way ticket to ride. So Kluxen's main winter season concert, with the young Danish conductor turned loose on a repertoire that makes no concessions and takes no prisoners, was a big test.
I think Kluxen seemed a bit tense on Saturday. (Who wouldn't be?) He was a bit four-square and cautious in his accompaniment to John Lill's performance of Grieg's Piano Concerto – it would have been better, if riskier, if they had all just let go and played the thing.
And again, if he could just have given Tchaikovsky's First Symphony its head, it might have been more effective than the measured, calculated version we heard.