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Friday, September 24, 2010

Concert Review: Perlman and the Philharmonic

The third concert of the 2010 New York Philharmonic season featured the welcome pairing of Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert on the podium with the redoubtable violin skills of Itzhak Perlman. 
Itzhak Perlman

Mr. Perlman soared through the sweet melodies and difficult cadenzas of Mendelssohn's famous Violin Concerto, applying a personal touch of warmth to each note drawn from his instrument. He was particularly compelling in the final cadenza of the last movement, using the low strings of his violin to provide propulsive force to the orchestra. 

The morning concert kicked off with an exuberant Don Juan, the tone poem that solidified the reputation of Richard Strauss while providing horn players reason to live. Philharmonic principal Philip Myers was that horn player, launching the famous theme with a flood of glorious tone.
Mr. Gilbert shifted focus to the 20th century for the second half. Dutilleux's Métaboles allowed each section of the orchestra to shine before bringing its main themes together in a thunderous display of sound.

Its most memorable moment was the jazzy pizzicato solo for double bass, played by Philharmonic principal Eugene Levinson. This solo formed the basis for a virtuosic string fugue (also played pizzicato) which looked backward to the works of Beethoven and Bach while maintaining a distinctly modern idiom. 

The Symphonic Metamorphasis of a Theme by Weber was written by Paul Hindemith during his American period as a ballet score. The Metamorphosis, based on a series of little-known works by German Romantic Carl Maria von Weber, consists of a series of movements featuring atmospheric winds, mysterious, hushed string chords and muted rolls on the timpani.

The work concludes with a brassy march, which may have inspired the theme music of a certain fedora-wearing archeologist. Leading this complex composition without a score, Mr. Gilbert made a strong case for the presence of this work in the Philharmonic's repertory. After all, they're the orchestra that premiered it!

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.