Notes from Philly

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Rouse Oboe Concerto at Orchestra

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Philadelphia Orchestra, Alan Gilbert, conducting,
Richard Woodhams, oboe
Jan. 20, 21, 22, 2011
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center,
Review of Friday’s performance:
WRTI, 90.1 fm: Jan. 24

The Kimmel Center is a a pleasant place to be when snow is sprinkling although the snow was sparse and so was the audience in Verizon Hall as New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert led the Philadelphians Friday afternoon in a series that’s been dwindling for the past couple of years. This was disappointing. The orchestra program and its performance were winning as Magnus Lindberg’s Expo(2009) and Christopher Rouse’s Oboe Concerto (2004) got their local premieres.

Lindberg penned EXPO’s nine minutes to inaugurate Gilbert’s first season at the New York Philharmonic. EXPO leaves no instrument un-tuned in its search for color or range. The Philadelphians burst into sonority, smiles, some players looking gleeful. The 44- year -old conductor, known to many from his time at the Curtis Institute, led with calm brio, helped along by Don Liuzzi’s firm tympani and Tony Orlando’s percussion. Expo is an explosive piece.

Christopher Rouse’s Oboe Concerto also invigorates but the balances are scaled down, colors tempered, textures astute. Everything is refined as medieval tapestry. With principal Richard Woodhams as soloist, the tones were ravishing. Flourishes that sound like birdcalls, delicate interactions between the celesta, the harp and clarinet kept the ear intent t. I’ve never heard a nightingale but Dick Woodhams qualifies. In one continuous movement, Rouse manages lyricism and rhythmic bite in a concerto that should be heard again and again.

Completing the satisfying afternoon, Gilbert led Beethoven’s Sixth, a sturdier Pastoral than usual, more vigorous than gentle but pleasing for that with a grand, almost perfect storm.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

January 24, 2011 at 1:36 am