Sights and sounds to savor at the Philadelphia Orchestra

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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Sights and sounds to savor at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Post by Ricordanza » Tue Dec 08, 2015 9:57 pm

Gone are the days when subscribers to the Philadelphia Orchestra were limited to a particular evening and series with the same seats, such as the Thursday “C” series with one seat location for all six concerts. For the past few years, subscribers have been able to “pick your own” series, for whatever programs, conductors, soloists, and evenings appealed to them. The flexibility extends to choosing seats in Verizon Hall, and that was especially helpful for the concert on Saturday night, December 5. Our seats on the First Tier offered a great view of the entire orchestra--and fine sound as well--for the featured work on the program, Stravinsky’s Firebird. This was the complete music for the ballet, not the Suite that is so often heard. So there was even more of this incredible music to savor, and to be enveloped in the sound of the Philadelphians.

I’ve just about run out of superlatives to describe how good the orchestra sounds under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. We already know from the numerous solos in the Firebird that the principal players are among the best anywhere, but the polish and power of the ensemble is what really distinguishes the orchestra under Yannick’s direction.

The evening began with a lively performance of a Suite from Bizet’s Carmen. I didn’t realize, until reading the program notes, that there is more than one Carmen Suite--all of them arranged by others after Bizet’s untimely death at the age of 36. This version, arranged by Fritz Hoffmann, is less frequently played but is more faithful to the original score. Yes, it’s very familiar music, but for this listener, it never gets old.

The nineteenth century Belgian virtuoso Henri Vieuxtemps wrote seven violin concertos, and on Saturday night, we heard the fourth of these showpieces. These works do not attain the musical heights of the violin concertos by Brahms, Bruch and Sibelius, but they have an enduring appeal for audiences and for the soloists who play them. And Saturday night’s soloist is a treat to hear in any music she plays. Hilary Hahn has successfully made the transition from child prodigy to one of the world’s great violinists. By the end of her performance, I was (almost) persuaded that Vieuxtemps No. 4 is a masterpiece.

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