Getting to know — or at least trying to — Matthias Pintscher at an L.A. Phil concert

Matthias Pintscher
Los Angeles Times

German conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher, who began the Los Angeles Philharmonic's new year in a program of French music and a piece of his own at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday night, may or may not be a candidate for music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Top brass was on hand, but no one's talking. He will, however, definitely become more of a presence in Southern California.

Pintscher's bio in the L.A. Phil program book leaked the news that he will make his Hollywood Bowl debut this summer. And last week the Ojai Music Festival announced that Pintscher has been tapped to be music director of the 2020 festival. Maybe by then we'll have a better idea of this enigmatic musician who is both a progressive and romantic.

He came out of the world of modernist German music but with a compelling feeling for French culture. He has followed, as conductor and composer, in Pierre Boulez's footsteps. He is currently music director of Ensemble Intercontemporain and principal conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra (which trains young players in new music), both of which Boulez founded.

And, like Boulez, he has become as well known, if not better, for his conducting rather than his own music. About to turn 47 later this month, he has few major orchestras with which he has yet to make his debut as a conductor. Big name soloists want pieces from him (a cello concerto for Alisa Weilerstein was recently given its premiere by the Boston Symphony) and so do big concert halls (he was artist-in-focus, whatever that means, for the spectacular new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany, last year).

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