NY Philharmonic news

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John F
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NY Philharmonic news

Post by John F » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:04 am

More about Deborah Borda and, oh yes, the world premiere of a big cello concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

New Concerto, New Leader: A Big Day at the New York Philharmonic
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
MARCH 16, 2017

Wednesday was a big day for the New York Philharmonic, both onstage and in its offices. An exciting new work was introduced at David Geffen Hall that evening when Yo-Yo Ma and the Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, performed Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restive, cosmic and formidably difficult new Cello Concerto.

That triumph was preceded by a potentially game-changing development for the institution, announced earlier that same day: Deborah Borda, the visionary president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be taking on these same dual roles at the New York Philharmonic in September. She was in the audience for Wednesday’s concert, though understandably Ms. Borda is hesitant to say anything yet about her specific plans.

During her 17-year tenure in Los Angeles, Ms. Borda turned that Philharmonic into America’s most dynamic and successful orchestra. She hired Gustavo Dudamel, when he was still in his 20s and little-known, as music director and helped him become a charismatic new face of classical music and a fearless artistic leader. She ushered the orchestra into Disney Concert Hall, one of the world’s coolest places for music. She has fostered outreach to Los Angeles residents and stoked curiosity for contemporary music among audiences.

Ms. Borda tried mightily to do such things as the administrative leader of the New York Philharmonic in the 1990s but met resistance from the traditionalist maestro Kurt Masur, then its music director, and a timid board. She returns to New York at a time when the Philharmonic, despite Mr. Gilbert’s admirable innovations, seems directionless; she also must grapple with a chronic budget deficit.

I have questioned whether the powerhouse conductor Jaap van Zweden, who will succeed Mr. Gilbert as music director in 2018, is the right choice for the Philharmonic at this time. That he strongly pressed Ms. Borda to join him in New York is the most encouraging indicator so far of his artistic ambitions. In a recent interview, he commended her for knowing “how to reach the public, how to make a connection with the city.” These are promising comments.

On Wednesday, the concert featured a program that, in a way, reflected the influence Ms. Borda has had on the field of classical music. Mr. Salonen would not be the composer and conductor the world now values so highly were it not for his 17 momentous years as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the last nine on Ms. Borda’s watch. (He left the post in 2009.) Mr. Gilbert preceded the new Salonen concerto with a zesty account of John Adams’s percolating “The Chairman Dances, Foxtrot for Orchestra” and, after intermission, led an arresting performance of Berlioz’s head-trip “Symphonie fantastique.” This is just the kind of programmatic mixing Ms. Borda has encouraged orchestras to undertake.

Mr. Salonen and Mr. Ma first cooked up this cello concerto during informal chats. The composer led the premiere of the piece on March 9 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra but turned over the baton to Mr. Gilbert for the New York premiere. Speaking to the audience on Wednesday, Mr. Salonen shared his “internal narration” for this 38-minute piece, while inviting listeners to ignore it.

His intriguing personal title for the first movement is “Chaos to line.” The orchestra begins with a mysterious swirl of oscillating figures, as a heaving bass line trolls in the low strings and brass. The cello emerges from the restless mists playing fragments that want to coalesce into a line, but seem held back by enshrouding strings. Finally, a searching cello line breaks loose, sounding like intense yet wayward thoughts unfolding in endless phrases. Mr. Ma’s warm, dusky playing of this lyrical stretch was wondrously cushioned by the orchestra’s harmonically ambiguous atmospherics.

In the second movement, a series of sound “clouds,” as Mr. Salonen calls them, swell and subside. Though these musical clouds may seem motionless on the surface, they are built from teeming matrices of overlapping riffs and figures. At a crucial moment (just one of several such episodes), Mr. Ma played high, exquisitely soft phrases as live tape loops echoed his cello through speakers in the hall, like sonic shadows.

In the final movement the cello, now frustrated, demands attention. The music turns kinetic and insistent, with interplay between the cello bongos and congas, deceptively charming music that is actually anxious. Soon, the cello declares battle on the orchestra, breaking into raucous, vehement bursts of sputtering, manic phrases. Here it is a cello concerto equivalent to the “Sacrificial Dance” from Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

Mr. Ma played spectacularly; the Philharmonic musicians sounded inspired under Mr. Gilbert’s masterly conducting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/arts ... monic.html
John Francis

Modernistfan
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Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:23 pm

Re: NY Philharmonic news

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:34 am

I hope, somehow, that Borda finds a way to get Salonen formally involved with the orchestra on a regular basis, perhaps as Principal Guest Conductor. If they are not merely going to be a museum, they desperately need someone other than the stodgy van Zweden there.

THEHORN
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Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:57 am

Re: NY Philharmonic news

Post by THEHORN » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:29 pm

I'm not sure Van Zweden is actually "stodgy ". He's actually done more new or recent music than you might think . For example, he has been a champion of the other John Adams, John Luther Adams of Alaska , a really interesting and original compositional voice .
We'll have to wait and see what the new guy's programming will be like ; it's too early to jumpto conclusions . We need to give him a chance to show what he cab do .

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