HomeMusicGeffen and Gustavo: Combined Boons for the New York Philharmonic

Geffen and Gustavo: Combined Boons for the New York Philharmonic


David Geffen Hall, the New York Philharmonic’s gut-renovated residence at Lincoln Center, isn’t excellent.

The adorning tends tacky and clashing — even when seating that wraps across the stage has finished wonders for intimacy. And the sound, for all its enhancements on the outdated acoustics, leans coolly antiseptic.

But for the orchestra, which ends its first season in what is actually a brand new corridor this weekend, Geffen has been a form of talisman.

Last fall, when performing arts teams across the nation had been blindsided by theaters half-full (and worse), the joy of the corridor’s reopening insulated the Philharmonic from an identical destiny. Sales have been sturdy all season.

In February, one other talisman appeared: the star conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who was named the orchestra’s subsequent music director. Though Dudamel gained’t increase his baton at Geffen subsequent season — and although classical music’s bizarrely stretched planning cycles imply he gained’t formally begin till 2026 — there was already a transparent sense of his energy as an viewers attract his three sold-out concert events in May.

Dudamel might be the one determine able to placing such an exclamation level on the revealing of the corridor, a $550 million undertaking. And an exclamation level on the season, as he carried out Mahler’s Ninth Symphony — an excessive and emotional, expansive but targeted piece notably treasured by this orchestra, which its composer carried out for a short however memorable stint simply earlier than his dying in 1911.

I attended all three performances, making an attempt to get the fullest doable sense of what may come from the connection of this maestro to this orchestra and this area. The message was combined.

The first performance, a Friday night, sounded tremendous, the gamers poised. But poise is hardly the takeaway you need from Mahler’s harrowing Ninth; there was nothing intense or uncomfortable about this interpretation, nothing private or inexorable.

The first motion progressed with bland serenity. The center actions danced pleasantly, with out a trace of the manic. The Adagio finale, its personal epic journey of agony and reduction, was mild-mannered. The third efficiency, a Sunday matinee, was a lot the identical.

But the center go, on Saturday evening, provided a glimpse of a extra important alchemy. The high quality of the enjoying remained excessive — and was now infused with a few of Dudamel’s oft-mentioned however not all the time obvious vibrancy.

Those interior actions had taken on menacing chew, whipping between contrasting sections; the Adagio was a deeper evocation of stillness and fragility. This was not profound or transferring Mahler, nevertheless it had a spark.

At these concert events, as all through the season, there was a way that Geffen Hall, somewhat than bringing collectively this mass of devices in a blooming mix, was etching the sound, exhausting, within the air.

While orchestras take a very good, lengthy time to totally regulate to new houses, after a full season it may be stated: Geffen’s acoustics appear lucid and balanced, but additionally stiff and stark, the sonic equal of the blond-wood auditorium’s chilly, harsh lighting, which makes you squint a bit as you enter and floods the stage throughout performances.

These qualities make it higher suited to sure repertoire — Romantic sumptuousness is especially exhausting to come back by — and the Philharmonic goes to should work exhausting to construct the richness of its sound if the corridor isn’t going to assist.

What additionally isn’t going to assist, sadly, is the Philharmonic’s present music director, Jaap van Zweden, who has appeared an overshadowed visitor at his personal social gathering since Geffen’s reopening and Dudamel’s appointment. Van Zweden, who finishes his brief tenure subsequent season, has a tricky, blunt type — a “Pines of Rome” of bludgeoning quantity in October, a sludgy “Turangalîla-Symphonie” in March — that emphasizes the corridor’s acoustic shortcomings somewhat than relieving them.

The concert events at which these shortcomings had been least noticeable had been, by and huge, led by visitors. The conductor Hannu Lintu made his Philharmonic debut in November with a cogent, exact program of Stravinsky, Bartok (the hardly ever performed Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion), Kaija Saariaho and Sibelius. At the end of that month, the corridor’s acoustics had been really a boon, serving to lower the fats in what might have been a very indulgent program of French works, led by Stéphane Denève with a kaleidoscopic sleekness effectively suited to the area.

Esa-Pekka Salonen carried out a raucous rendition of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in February, per week earlier than Thomas Adès’s very good 2008 piano concerto “In Seven Days” — which ought to be a repertory staple — returned to the Philharmonic for the primary time in 12 years. Felipe Lara’s Double Concerto, an exuberant showcase for Claire Chase (on a battery of flutes) and Esperanza Spalding (singing and enjoying double bass), had a sensational New York premiere in March below Susanna Mälkki.

Last month, a blistering program of Prokofiev’s Third Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, with the dazzling, preternaturally mature 19-year-old Yunchan Lim as soloist, was as a lot a showcase for the gifted conductor James Gaffigan because it was for Lim. When will Gaffigan get an American orchestra?

But there was no extra poignant and musically stimulating spectacle this season than the return to the rostrum in February of Herbert Blomstedt, who, at 95, guided with utter management Ingvar Lidholm’s sternly elegant “Poesis,” a piece whose premiere Blomstedt presided over in 1963.

Back in these days, the Philharmonic’s then-new corridor was already being criticized for its acoustics. For a long time there didn’t appear to be the desire to repair it, and the present leaders of the orchestra and Lincoln Center deserve nice reward for lastly bringing the undertaking over the end line.

The public areas are roomier now, and capability has been lower; you continue to look ahead to the lavatory at intermission, however not practically so long as you used to. In quiet, glistening music, like a few of John Adams’s “My Father Knew Charles Ives” in October, Geffen gives a clear sonic window.

But in concertos by composers as various as Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, whether or not for violinist or pianist, the soloists recede a bit too totally into the orchestral textures. At high quantity and density, there’s blare the place there ought to be grandeur. And when actual heat is required, as within the symphonies of Mahler or Florence Price, there’s the small however essential lack of bloom and construct, of resonance.

The audiences and pleasure are there within the corridor. But the total influence of the music isn’t.

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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