Culture Magazine

Concert Review: In the Brisk Mid-Winter

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Concert Review: In the Brisk Mid-Winter

Lisa Batiashvili nd friend. Photo by Anja Meara © 2013 Deutsche Grammophon.

There are two ways for a modern symphony orchestra to play Beethoven. An orchestra can make his music the main focus, usually featuring at least one of the symphonies and maybe a concerto. The other: juxtaposing Beethoven with other composers, putting his work in context. This week's Philharmonic program (heard Friday night under the baton of music director Alan Gilbert) took the latter approach, alternating Beethoven compositions with works by Shostakovich and Gershwin.
The Philharmonic sounded crisp and bright in the Fidelio Overture, with sweet, dramatic horn calls from principal Philip Myers. Mr. Gilbert conducted an athletic, urgent performance, capturing this opera's sense of a small personal family relationship coupled with dramatic life-and-death urgency. Fidelio is Beethoven's only completed opera, and this performance reminded New Yorkers that it has been absent from New York stages for eight years.
The orchestra was joined by Lisa Batiashvili for the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1. Composed in 1948, this was one of two major Shostakovich compositions to be withdrawn from performance by the composer (the Fourth Symphony is the other) in response to pressure from Soviet state officials. It was eventually heard with violinist David Oistrakh, in 1955 who also played the work's first performance with the New York Philharmonic in December of that year.
The first movement of this concerto (Nocturne) is slow and somber, with Ms. Batiashvili playing a keening, descending theme against the dark colors of the orchestra. The "D-S-C-H" theme (D-E flat-C-B Natural in German notation) appears in the Scherzo, with powerful strokes of the entire orchestra pounding out the rhythmic accompaniment. Ms. Batiashvili played the solo part with energy and drive, leaping fearlessly over the intervals and paving the way for the concerto's second half.
The third movement is a passacaglia, a very old musical form with a steady figured bass against which the violin wanders as if lost in icy wastes. This ends in a long cadenza, a major statement of virtuosity for the soloist. The cadena led the way into the searing Burlesque finale, taken with great speed and clarity despite the demanding nature of this music. The solo part featured laser-like technical playing from Ms. Batiashvili against a blazing orchestral accompaniment led by Mr. Gilbert.
The Beethoven First led off after the intermission in a brisk, business-like reading under Mr. Gilbert's baton. From the stately opening chords to the brisk finale, this familiar work sounded crisp, pressed and folded, with sharp edges and neat corners in Beethoven's quirky minuet and humorous, Haydn-esque final Rondo.
The full forces of the Philharmonic were augmented with extra percussion and five tuned car-horns for George Gershwin's tone poem An American in Paris. Some ensembles pay lip service to Gershwin's musical legacy, but the Philharmonic embraces it, playing the perky opening figures with enthusiasm and energy. Virtuoso parts for the percussion players (including the taxi horns) were answere with full, round tones from the brass, from the blare of trumpets to the deep growl of the tuba. The slow central blues movement, with its elegaic parts for saxophone and trombone led to a welcome return of the brilliantine opening, with the whole thing ending in a blaze of orchestral light.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Boeing 747-400, Lufthansa

    Boeing 747-400, Lufthansa

    @ Frankfurt Airport, Germany April 2018 Lufthansa operates 13 of these -400 models, along with 19 of the newer 747-8 aircraft. Read more

    10 hours, 13 minutes ago by   Htam
  • What ADHD Actually Is, Part 2

    Since I wrote part 1 of this series, I’ve had a lot of wonderful positive feedback from people with ADHD and suggestions for topics to cover in the future.... Read more

    11 hours, 23 minutes ago by   Brute Reason
  • Pain De Mie


    这个面包真的是超软!用刀切片的时候有点困难。Ingredients:260g Blue Jacket Baguette Flour40g Blue Jacket Wholewheat Flour8g fine sugar3g instant yeast1g salt180g water15g Cowhead salte... Read more

    11 hours, 37 minutes ago by   Cathysjoy
  • Flash Fiction from a Writing Prompt

    Flash Fiction from Writing Prompt

    ** In the classes I teach at Stevenson University, students know that I have the propensity to use writing prompts in class to get them writing creatively and... Read more

    The 20 April 2018 by   Steph's Scribe
  • Flash Fiction from a Writing Prompt

    Flash Fiction from Writing Prompt

    ** In the classes I teach at Stevenson University, students know that I have the propensity to use writing prompts in class to get them writing creatively and... Read more

    The 20 April 2018 by   Steph's Scribe
  • Inside New Opening Church on the Hill, Glasgow

    Doors Open at Church on the Hill Iconic Southside Glasgow bar, Church on the Hill, has opened its doors again, following a £650,000 refurbishment. Read more

    The 20 April 2018 by   Emma
  • Summer Dresses Ideas

    Summer Dresses Ideas

    Coucou everyone,Summer is almost here, are you excited?Long days on the beach (in the park), light evenings with glass of rose on the terrace, delicious ice... Read more

    The 20 April 2018 by   Dusana Bozenkova