Monday, June 18, 2012

My last concert of the season: New York Philharmonic plays Beethoven, Korngold, and Nielsen

On Saturday we heard the Philharmonic perform Beethoven's Overture to Coriolan, Korngold's Violin Concerto with soloist Leonidas Kavakos, and Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 3, all conducted by Alan Gilbert. Barring a last-minute offer of tickets to this week's season finale series, Saturday's was the last concert of the season for us.

I enjoyed the Beethoven but I thought the piece could have used a little more drama. It's an energetic, powerful work but I didn't feel drawn into the performance. On the other hand, Kavakos provided all the drama and energy the audience needed for Korngold's gorgeous Violin Concerto. I thought the orchestra and soloist did an excellent job balancing each other, with Gilbert allowing Kavakos' lyricism to shine.

After intermission, the Philharmonic performed Nielsen's Symphony No. 3 for only the second time in the organization's history. Alan Gilbert has expressed a desire to expose Philharmonic audiences to Nielsen, and the orchestra provided a great showcase for this underrated symphony. I especially enjoyed the second movement with its wordless solos for soprano and baritone, and the finale with its lush Romantic melody for strings and horns. I didn't know much of Nielsen's music until a few years ago but he's quickly become a composer whose music I love and seek out when performed live. I hope Philharmonic audiences feel the same way.

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