Monday, January 14, 2013

A few quick thoughts on Friday night's New York Philharmonic concert

On Friday night, we attended the New York Philharmonic's performance of Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 6. Pinchas Zukerman was the soloist, with Christoph Eschenbach, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, conducting.

Bruch's concerto has long been one of my favorite works, but I don't think I'd heard it performed live until Friday evening. Zukerman was of course outstanding and Eschenbach kept the orchestra out of his way. Some of the tempi were a little slower than I like but that relaxed pace helped in the romantic second movement. Zukerman received a long ovation after the energetic finale. I've seen him perform once or twice before with the Philharmonic and I think I enjoyed this appearance more than the others. I'd heard him play some of Bach's "Brandenburg" concertos a few years ago but I think his tone is better suited to Bruch's work than Bach's.

After the intermission, Eschenbach led the orchestra through a powerful reading of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony. The horns in particular stood out, as their fanfares were wholly distinguishable from those of the trumpets and trombones. I enjoyed Principal Oboe Liang Wang's work in the Adagio movement, and the strings and winds were crisp and forceful in the scherzo. Eschenbach led with a moderate amount of movement on the podium, using his upper body and keeping his feet mostly in place on the podium. I left Avery Fisher Hall humming some of the brass fanfares from the piece, and they stuck with me over the weekend.

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