Monday 22 July 2019

Review: Highest of expectations are fulfilled

Classical: NY Philharmonic, National Concert Hall

Artistic director Alan Gilbert
Artistic director Alan Gilbert

Pat O'Kelly

Under artistic director Alan Gilbert, the return of the New York Philharmonic fulfils all expectations.

Beginning with Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen's recent Nyx, this portrayal of a "shadowy figure of Greek mythology" is a concerto for orchestra in all but name.

Superbly handled, large forces have a powerful density that can be often tapered to fragile filigrees of sound.

Nyx shows the weighty depth of NYP's brass with particularly emblazoned horns, its shimmering, vital-in-attack strings and its twirling woodwind with principal clarinet sinuously serpentine.

Then there is snapping percussion and a delightful harp and celesta duo in this brilliant orchestral showpiece executed with consummate ensemble virtuosity.

The same bravura carries through to Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier Suite. This précis of the opera has the NYP wallowing in every detail of the composer's indulgent orchestration.

Whooping horns, clarion trumpets, cajoling oboes, sweeping strings and again harp and celesta flutters, coalesce perfectly as the rhythmic sway of Act III's waltzes sashays with seductive swing.

In between, Irish-Texan mezzo Joyce DiDonato explores the exotically perfumed world of Ravel's Shéhérazade. The opening Asie has her floated phrases caressing Ravel's sensual lines beautifully.

The exquisite La Flûte Enchantée also pinpoints NYP's golden-toned principal flautist while L'Indifferent has Joyce DiDonato delicately immersed in Ravel's mysteriously ambivalent ambience.

There is an encore with Ms DiDonato euphoric in Strauss' equally rapturous Morgen. Music-making par excellence all through.

Irish Independent

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