Review: Dependent on Global Conflict, Vienna Philharmonic Broadcast on

A week ago, the Vienna Philharmonic’s three-night stop at Carnegie Hall, which began Friday, was notable for marking an important step in the slow return of international orchestras to New York. Then Russia invaded Ukraine.

Viennese has been led by Valery Gergiev, a magnet that regularly attracts rallies at Carnegie Hall over his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Both the former Carnegie and the Philharmonic have been outspoken about the separation of Gergiev’s politics and his art, although his art cannot be separated from government.

On Thursday, as phrases like “the whole world has changed” began to surface, Gergiev’s relationship with Putin became “irreparable,” as Clive Gillinson, the company’s artistic and chief executive officer. Carnegie, told The New York Times. Gergiev excluded from Philharmonic concerts; So does Denis Matsuev, the scheduled soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, who has publicly endorsed Putin’s policies in the past.

Gergiev did not comment on the invasion, even as many classical musicians do not necessarily have to. (Until Saturday, soprano star Anna Netrebko, a Putin supporter, was also previously silent. she posted a face saving statement took to Instagram to say that she was “opposed to this war,” with defiant words that “force artists, or any public figure, to voice their political views in public and denounce their homeland is not true.”) If Gergiev does not say otherwise, he faces more cancellations: from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan; Munich Philharmonic, where he is the commander in chief; and the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra, planned a festival in his honor.

But back to the Vienna Philharmonic.

With news of Gergiev’s passing, announced that Yannick Nézet-Séguin, no one unfamiliar with the Philharmonic or regular, will step in – bringing his total appearances at Carnegie this season to more than a dozen. He had Philadelphia Orchestra Instructionof which he is the music director, was there on Monday, and was preparing to open a new Verdi production “Don Carlos” on February 28 at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was also music director. Suddenly, he was giving three concerts in Vienna, with three different shows, in between. (As if that wasn’t enough, he ushered in a revival of “Tosca” at the Met on Wednesday; when the holiday comes, it will make a lot of money.)

Then a pianist needs to be found. Seong-Jin Cho, who lives in Berlin, agreed to around midnight his time on Friday and will board a plane to New York within about seven hours. He hasn’t played the Rachmaninoff ensemble since 2019 and has never worked with the Philharmonic; for more pressure, this will be his orchestral premiere at Carnegie.

Because Nézet-Séguin spent most of Friday in the final costume rehearsal for “Don Carlos,” the Vienna concert wasn’t reheard until 6 p.m. — and even then, just 75 minutes before the start time at 8 o’clock. program, of the concert and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, contains more than 90 minutes of music.

However, someone living under a rock can walk into this concert, unaware of its setting, and be completely happy. Indeed, Friday’s performance was perhaps better than the assault of Gergiev – who, outside of politics, is often an unreliable conductor – and with Matsuev, who tends to be offensive in a way emotionless over warhorses like Rachmaninoff.

Nézet-Séguin does more than simply keep time or keep the Philharmonics together; he led them with passion and decisive interpretation. And Cho didn’t simply pass the concert; he played it from memory, with moments of great subtlety. Here’s how to make professional music that is remarkable for happening and magical in the making.

There have certainly been better accounts of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, but very few in the case of Friday. So you can forgive Cho’s touch, a bit of light on the piece’s difficult balance battle with the giant orchestra. His sound, though, is not really an outpouring of emotion or technical virtuosity, and more of a seemingly random stream of thoughts flowing, with soft accompaniment soaring under brilliantly paired tunes in the right hand. Nézet-Séguin and the Philharmonic similarly approached the phrase point by phrase, each with a clear line in volume and expression. In the truest indication that this evening was more ingenious than messy, the performance of the finale, a lightning bolt from Bach, was so precise – Cho and the violinists aligned even in crossfire. team goods.

When the audience applauded afterward, Nézet-Séguin and Cho hugged each other for a long time. And when Cho returned to the bench for an encore, a delicate and virtuoso vocalist singing “October: Autumn Song” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons,” the conductor sat in the back row of strings, listening with air. attentive but serene face. .

But the show isn’t over yet. Nézet-Séguin still has his Second Symphony, which in this reading constantly elevates and fascinates Wagner. This is the Philharmonic in its signature lushness, but then shines again in the second scherzo-esque movement. The expressive Adagio, after opening with a tender clarinet solo, is not merely emotional but tense and pounding as it builds towards a climax and radiant release. And the final bars of the finale were so boisterous that the audience started cheering before Nézet-Séguin lowered his baton.

The standing ovation was something of a default New York response. But you can also tell when they’re more immediate, more spirited – more sincere. Such was the case on Friday, and it doesn’t sound like an overreaction.

Vienna Philharmonic

Adopted Sunday at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan; Review: Dependent on Global Conflict, Vienna Philharmonic Broadcast on

Fry Electronics Team

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