Notes from Philly

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Nezet-Seguin’s Second Date with Philadelphians

with 4 comments

Philadelphia Orchestra, Nezet-Seguin, cond.
Nicholas Angelich, piano
Verizon Hall,
Dec. 3-5, 2009

Yannick Nezet-Seguin (YAH-nick NEH-zay SAY-gahn) is a mouthful. Maybe we should practice saying it. The 34- year- old conductor from Montreal is on the short list for music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. His second date, as Nezet-Seguin, calls his recent performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra proved high-grade music making no matter a program that on paper looked perplexing, even a bit of a bore. Claude Vivier’s Orion is a strange, compelling (wonderfully structured) overture whose sonorities suggest a concert organ: muted trombones, intense and subdued strings, layers of percussion. Seguin steered a gripping performance, including the lone voice howling something over a Balinese gong (vocals came from tympanist Don Luizzi). The piece from 1979 sounds like Vivier admired Bruckner and George Crumb. Vivier, born in Montreal in 1948, was murdered in Paris in 1983.

At the Saturday performance I heard, Nezet-Seguin accommodated a piano soloist whose idea of the Brahms Concerto in D Minor is so ruminative it might still be going on. His name is Nicholas Angelich and the ideas he pursued were searching and particularly Mozartean – a way to spotlight Mozart’s influence on Brahms. The result also gave time to appreciate the woodwind turns, horn solos. By the final movement some of Angelich’s excellent finger work may have been tiring. Phrases began to plod, my attention lost some hold. This had been, for sure, a very oddly put together program, and the Brahms Concerto is long. There was far more to come after the half. Angelich, born in the U.S. in 1970, is worth hearing again.

Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D minor can be a potboiler. Under Nezet- Seguin, it was shaped to a fare- thee- well. The most expressive and gently shaped opening heard in this house. Torrents, layers of cyclic drama poured out. A shaping and execution so distinctive, it exceed its emotion heavy content.

NB If the young man is to come here more often, the hope is he gets a better fitting suit.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

December 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “a piano soloist whose idea of the Brahms Concerto in D Minor might still be going on. ” Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean here. Could it be the syntax?

    I can’t possibly imagine a pianists fingers getting tired by the 4th movement. 🙂 Hee Hee.

    Also, if he gets a better-fitting suit, I hope it’s not in the Star Trek style that Eschenbach always wears.

    Brian Billings

    December 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  2. good point: Think it’s fixed: so ruminative…..but let me know if not, please Mr. Billings…..

    ah, the cut of a suit… what it tells about a man…

    Lesley Valdes

    December 8, 2009 at 2:13 am

  3. Aahhh! Now I get it. Thank you.

    Brian Billings

    December 8, 2009 at 2:33 am

  4. Thank you for reading. I have a different version, briefer, perhaps succinct on radio tomorrow. I hope.

    Lesley Valdes

    December 8, 2009 at 3:13 am


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