Yannick is a welcome substitute

Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Ricordanza
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Yannick is a welcome substitute

Post by Ricordanza » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:56 pm

Who’s in charge during a piano concerto? Is it always an equal collaboration between the piano soloist and the conductor, or does one dominate in presenting an interpretation of the work? This question occurred to me prior to Thursday night’s Philadelphia Orchestra concert, and may have been answered by the performance that evening of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor. Jaap Van Zweden, music director of the Dallas Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, had been scheduled to be the guest conductor, but cancelled due to family reasons. In his place was a very welcome substitute, our very own music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. And I was looking forward to hearing one of my favorite pianists as the soloist in the Brahms, Garrick Ohlsson. But I remembered the last time I heard this concerto in concert, in December 2009. Yannick was the conductor, making his second guest appearance with the orchestra, and the piano soloist was Nicholas Angelich. The performance that night was marred by some overly slow, even glacial tempos. Would we hear a similar disappointing rendition on Thursday night?

Fortunately, no. Ohlsson’s playing was magnificent (as I’ve come to expect) and the collaboration between him and Yannick was all that one could ask for. The first movement was neither rushed nor dragged, but just as Brahms directed in his tempo marking of Maestoso—majestic and stately. The incredibly beautiful second movement proceeded slowly, as appropriate, but without loss of momentum, and the vigorous finale completed this magnificent performance. After a huge ovation (with a little unintentional comic relief, as the Paul Bunyanesque Ohlsson took his bows next to the diminutive Yannick), Ohlsson treated us to a delicious version of Chopin’s Waltz No. 1 in E Flat Major, Op. 18.

With the change in conductors came a change in the program. Instead of Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, we heard one of Richard Strauss’ well known tone poems, Death and Transfiguration. No reason to complain about the substitution, especially given the fine rendition by the Philadelphians. Along with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, this orchestra seems most comfortable and convincing with the music of Richard Strauss.

Twenty years after composing Death and Transfiguration, Strauss completed his opera, Der Rosenkavalier. The Suite from that opera was the final work of the evening, and I couldn't help but notice the contrast between the two works. The Strauss of Death and Transfiguration was already a first-rate composer. But his mastery is even more evident in this later work. In its harmonic complexity and inventiveness, its rich orchestration, and its sensual beauty, the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier is one of the glories of the orchestral repertoire. With a mesmerizing performance by the orchestra, including a number of superb solos by the first chairs, this capped one of the most enjoyable orchestral concerts I’ve attended in recent years.

John F
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Yannick is a welcome substitute

Post by John F » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:50 am

Martha Argerich actually played something slower than usual? Will wonders never cease!
John Francis

Ricordanza
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: Yannick is a welcome substitute

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:47 am

John F wrote:Martha Argerich actually played something slower than usual? Will wonders never cease!
John, put on your reading glasses! I was referring to Nicholas Angelich.
But I remembered the last time I heard this concerto in concert, in December 2009. Yannick was the conductor, making his second guest appearance with the orchestra, and the piano soloist was Nicholas Angelich.

John F
Posts: 19751
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Yannick is a welcome substitute

Post by John F » Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:59 am

Oops!
John Francis

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