Review: An Audition Season Begins at the Philharmonic

Assessment: An Audition Season Begins on the Philharmonic

It’s audition season on the New York Philharmonic.

Properly, not formally. However ever because the orchestra’s music director, Jaap van Zweden, introduced that he would step down in 2024, each visitor conductor’s look has carried the load of hypothesis. When an outsider takes the rostrum today, it’s exhausting to get by way of the live performance with out pondering: Might this be our future?

And, for the following six weeks, the Philharmonic’s calendar is crammed with nothing however visitors.

It started Thursday with Jakub Hrusa, a conductor with an ear for rarities and the ability to make persuasive instances for them. Subsequent up are Santtu-Matias Rouvali, a charismatic and promising younger expertise; Manfred Honeck, a grasp of the usual repertory; Herbert Blomstedt, an elder statesman who, now in his mid-90s, is unlikely to be a music director once more; and Gustavo Dudamel, who’s being given substantial actual property with a Schumann competition in March. (That’s an terrible lot of Y chromosomes, although different notable appearances in current months have included Dalia Stasevska, Simone Young and Susanna Mälkki.)

Hrusa final led the Philharmonic in 2019 — because it occurs, at the end of another stretch of visitor applications. Past bringing out a dynamic sound typically absent from van Zweden’s indelicate model, Hrusa had a delicate present then of giving the viewers one thing it might take pleasure in however not essentially ask for: Dvorak, say, however the underrated Sixth Symphony.

That occurred once more with this week’s live shows at Alice Tully Corridor. (I attended the one on Friday.) The night had the surface-level same-old of lifeless European dudes — Central Europeans, to be actual — however was wealthy with novelty and spirited all through, sufficient to encourage applause in the course of a symphony. Two of the three works had by no means been performed by the Philharmonic, and the centerpiece concerto, that includes the pianist Yuja Wang, hadn’t been on a subscription program because the Nineteen Eighties.

Even amongst these rarities had been names you must however don’t see right here typically: Zoltan Kodaly and Bohuslav Martinu.

Kodaly was represented by his Concerto for Orchestra, which premiered in 1941 — forward of the extra well-known work of the identical identify by his Hungarian compatriot Bela Bartok. The piece harkens again to Bach, in its “Brandenburgs”-like remedy of the ensemble and contrapuntal writing, however with a folks taste.

Underneath Hrusa’s baton it had the texture of a festive opener, and the Philharmonic gamers responded accordingly: an enormous sound delivered at a breakneck tempo, but crisply articulated (which helps at Tully, whose acoustics are inclined to punish grandeur with muddle). The rating isn’t with out its swerves, although, and Hrusa navigated them by dropping to a whisper instantly for lyrical, chamber-size passages and making area for intriguing sonorities that arose from, for instance, the doubling of cello pizzicato within the bassoon.

Martinu’s Symphony No. 1, from 1942, was comparatively quiet — at the very least at first, as a result of Hrusa took an extended, virtually theatrical view of the piece, constructing towards a climax and threading the 4 discrete actions. With a smooth method, his opening, of upward chromatic scales handed across the orchestra, was a backyard of surprisingly lovely flowers in bloom.

These scales recur later, however Hrusa didn’t overemphasize them. Quite, they arose gracefully amid the work’s shifting character: the unsteady and quickly escalating second motion, with strings given fleeting fragments of a phrase that would simply as simply soar, the shards of a Dvorak melody; the thick textures of the darker third motion; and the dancing finale, wherein even dolce passages dash as if sprung.

It was heartening to see that almost the entire viewers had stayed after intermission for the Martinu, on condition that the night’s clearer promoting level had come earlier: Wang taking part in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat.

Wang has Liszt’s storied star energy as a performer: simply capable of command a stage and entertainingly showy, but delicate and by no means excessively emotive. Her glamour is so established, she got here out sporting chunky sun shades — physician’s orders as she recovers from a current process — and the viewers merely greeted it, with cheers, as a vogue assertion.

She performed the opening with muscularity and precision, matched by the orchestra’s vigorous studying of the primary motion’s theme. However later, in a nocturne-like solo, Wang exquisitely flipped the piece’s scale to that of an intimate recital. She made the concerto sound higher than it truly is.

Within the spirit of Liszt, she returned with an encore of crowd-pleasing, breathless athleticism: the Toccatina from Kapustin’s Opus 40 Live performance Etudes. However then she got here again — nonetheless virtuosic, but expressive and completely pretty — for Mendelssohn’s “Songs With out Phrases” (Op. 67, No. 2). As she performed, Hrusa listened from the conductor’s podium, his eyes closed and his head nodding in bliss, a stand-in for all of us there.

New York Philharmonic

Carried out Friday at Alice Tully Corridor, Manhattan.

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