The New York Times
Thursday, March 11, 1999
Conductor Steps In, Unrehearsed
By James R. Oestreich
It is often a matter of curiosity, for those of us who generally hear the first or second outing of a run, how well the performances might have stood up until the end, but the press of other events seldom allows time to find out. The New York Philharmonic series just ended was hardly typical, with its change of conductor for the final performance, yet that unusual aspect made it seem all the more worthwhile to check in again.
Gisèle Ben-Dor, a young Uruguayan, is developing an odd specialty at the Philharmonic: conducting without rehearsal. She did so in 1993, as a late substitute for Kurt Masur, and did so again on Tuesday evening at Avery Fisher Hall, as a replacement for Daniele Gatti, after Ivan Fischer had rehearsed the program and conducted the early performances.
Her interpretations of Beethoven's "Coriolan" Overture and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, while they differed little in detail from Mr. Fischer's on Friday afternoon, tended to be more dynamic, less inclined to linger over nuance and coloration. For the most part, the orchestra followed her forward urgings. If Ms. Ben-Dor had merely survived in a work as complex as the Mahler ... she would have done well; she did more, making the interpretation ... her own