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December 16   -   Joe's Concert Reviews

New York Philharmonic – Alan Gilbert, conductor. December 14, 2016.

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.  Orchestra (Seat CC14, $50.50). ProgramMessiah (1741) by Handel (1685-1759). ArtistsChristina Landshamer, soprano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Matthew Polenzani, tenor; John Reylea, bass-baritoneConcert Chorale of New York – James Bagwell, conductorContinuo: Carter Brey, cello; Timothy Cobb, bass; Christopher Martin, trumpet; Paolo Bordignon, harpsichord; Kent Tribtle, organ. We have tickets to the Dec 18 performance by the NJ Symphony, but won’t be able to make it because of a commitment at church, so we decided to go for this one by the NY Phil.  Actually the billings are impressive: this is the first series that I know of that Gilbert will be conducting, perhaps as a farewell gesture?  I have heard three of the four soloists before, and have enjoyed their singing. Anne’s only “complaint” was she would have enjoyed the Westminster Symphony Choir more than the Concert Chorale that was on the stage tonight.  She really had no misgiving about what we heard tonight, though.  I am again puzzled by how the different voices seemed to be mixed up in the seating arrangement, but noticed that Gilbert tended to direct at specific sections of the group. One possible mismatch was Polenzani sang quite a bit better than the other three soloists.  His diction was clear, volume was great, and technique (to the extent I know what it is) impeccable.  I had Reylea in several operas before, and thought he did well.  I found his singing a not quite up to expectations; actually it reminded me of this National Chorale performance where we complained about the tenor’s voice (described as a bowling ball sloshing around by our friend). This was the German soprano’s debut with the New York Philharmonic, she started a bit weak but improved as the oratorio progressed.  We have heard Cooke a couple of times before, including a performance where she sang “sounds.”  She dispatched her recitatives and arias with ease. Gilbert did draw out a great sound from all the artists involved.  It is difficult to compare one performance with another, but I certainly would give this high marks.  He was quite animated on the podium, which is fine if Messiah is thought of as simply great music, a bit unsettling if one things of it as an act of worship.  The Playbill contains a discussion on this point.  In any case, by having the performance in a regular concert hall setting, one should not complain too much if it was performed for “diversion and amusement.” The trumpet had a bit of workout during Part III, and Martin – the new principal – did well,  other than for couple of place he had a slight hesitation. From the left: Reylea, Polenzai, Cooke, Landshamer, and Gilbert. Our seats were slightly discounted, and were quite good.  The concert was quite well attended.  Most people would stand for the singing of the Hallelujah chorus; but tonight they also applauded after this and Polenzani's first aria ("Every valley shall be exalted.") I did find a review at “New York Classical Review.”  The reviewer is positive about the performance and has more specific comments.  He did remind me the pace was rather quick as the concert was about 15 minutes shorter in our case.  I had attributed it to the edition that was performed. Today was a gridlock alert day.  We left a bit after 4 pm and got to the Westside at about 5:30 pm, without encountering too many tie-ups.  And we got to park on Columbus close to 66th Street!  Dinner was at the Szechuan Restaurant on 72nd.


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September 12   -  Yuja Wang and Members of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. September 6, 2017.

September 3   -  Hong Kong Philharmonic – Jaap van Zweden, conductor; Yuja Wang, piano. September 2, 2017.

August 20   -  Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra – Louis Langree, conductor; Kirill Gerstein, piano. August 15, 2017.

August 15   -  Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra – Andrew Manze, conductor; Thomas Zehetmair, violin. August 11, 2017.

July 28   -  Argus Quartet. July 26, 2017.

July 27   -  Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra – Louis Langree, conductor. July 25, 2017.

July 20   -  Lysander Piano Trio. July 18, 2017.

July 14   -  Brentano String Quartet. July 9, 2017.

June 25   -  Princeton Festival Chamber Concert with Baroque Orchestra. June 24, 2017.

June 23   -  Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra. June 21, 2017.

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