Notes from Philly

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Bountiful: Philadelphians with van Zweden, Gutierrez

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Philadelphia Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden, cond.
Horacio Gutierrez, piano
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center,
Nov. 27,28, 29, 2009

Pianist Horacio Gutierrez made a welcome appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra over Thanksgiving Weekend. (Had to cancel a couple of seasons back when battling a serious illness, but things appear in order now.) The Cuban American artist played the Mozart Concerto No. 19 in F Major, turning it into a touchstone of balance and finesse. Nothing out of place. Nothing phony. Pure tones expressing things music and yes opera can express. People forget pianists play with their feet as well as fingers. Gutierrez’s pedaling is so light nothing blurs his thoughtful runs.

Philadelphia’s guest conductor was Jaap van Zweden, music director of symphonies in Dallas and the Netherlands. A fine talent: van Zweden whose first instrument is violin. Didn’t start conducting until 14 years ago. He looks younger than someone born in 1960. Actually he looks a boxer. A marvelous left hand, this muscleman- with- heart. Bruckner’s monumental Ninth was the program’s mainstay. It suited leader -and -band. From the right side of the parque there was a good sense of balance to the strings and horns unlike the ins- and- outs of focus the New York Philharmonic suffered recently. The Philadelphia strings know how to manage acoustical challenge. Downstairs, at least on the right side of Verizon, the sound was warmer than the Verizon’s brilliance-or is it acoustical harshness might suggest. The horns led by Jennifer Montone outdid themselves. It was a Ninth that Sawallisch might have applauded. The pizzicato movement was arresting.

The finale, led by concertmaster David Kim, had so many subtleties. Too bad, a few members of the audience never can hold their applause a few seconds. An hour of symphonic effort deserves this. Too bad, Verizon Hall wasn’t more crowded for a very special performance by the Philadelphians with both these artists. Of course it hasn’t been crowded for a long time. The Orchestra’s new executive director arrives soon in the New Year. It won’t be soon enough.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

November 30, 2009 at 3:15 am

Posted in 1, Music, Piano

Tagged with , ,

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