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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Concert Preview: April 2016 at the New York Philharmonic

Mahler and Musical Marvels at David Geffen Hall
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The maestro: Bernard Haitink returns to the Philharmonic.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2014 New York Philharmonic.
As the concert season hits its spring homestretch, Superconductor blows the dust off an old idea, a comprehensive concert calendar previewing what's coming up with a given organization or venue. In this case, we're previewing the month of April at the New York Philharmonic, which offers five seperate subscription concerts at its longtime home David Geffen Hall.



Week 1: March 30-April 5: Spanish Nights

The month kicks off a little early with this week's concert program, a celebration of sultry French and Spanish music under the sure baton of Bramwell Tovey. Mr. Tovey will conduct the ballet music from Massenet's epic opera Le Cid and two major works by composer Manuel de Falla. The complete ballet score The Three-Cornered Hat pairs with the epic Night in the Gardens of Spain, allowing the Philharmonic players to indulge in Falla's rich orchestral palette and bright, colorful sound.

Week 2: April 7-12 Beethoven and Strauss

Although Jaap van Zweden was tapped in February as the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, these concerts offer a chance to hear the man who almost got the job. Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck takes a break from his duties at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to conduct a program featuring the Poet and Peasant Overture by Austrian composer Franz Suppé, the Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss with Philharmonic principal player Liang Wang in the solo part, and Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the "Pastorale." the last is a welcome herald of the coming of Spring.

Week 3: April 14-19: Mahler's Symphony No. 9

In every concert schedule there's one event that leaps out at the experienced listener. Here, it's this week's four performances of Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony, led by 87-year old conductor Bernard Haitink. The Dutch conductor is one of the most revered music-makers on the planet, and this, Mahler's last completed work counts among his most revered creations. It was also at the center of a storm of controversy in 2012 when this blog reported how a ringing cell phone interrupted the serene last movement. Hopefully, the audience will have learned its lesson.

Week 4: April 20-25 Das Lied von der Erde

In case the Ninth isn't enough, the following week's concert features the piece that was almost Mahler's Ninth until superstition led the composer to change the title before its premiere. The five-movement song cycle known as Das Lied von der Erde is one of the composer's great late works, sharing some qualities of loss, resignation and acceptance with the Ninth itself. These performances feature tenor Stefan Cinke and baritone Thomas Hampson in German settings of five Chinese poems dealing with drinking, existence and the transitive nature of the latter. It will be conducted by Alan Gilbert and paired with the enigmatic Seventh Symphony by Jean Sibelius.

Week 5: A Premiere plus Schumann and Brahms

The month ends with a world premiere: Après by composer Franck Krawczyk commissioned for the Philharmonic and funded by the annual Kravis Prize for New Music. Alan Gilbert pairs this premiere with Schumann's Cello Concerto with soloist Carter Brey and Brahms' genial Second Symphony. This is your last chance to hear the orchestra before they go on a California jaunt at the start of May and then build up to the second New York Philharmonic Biennial in June.

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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.