Monday, May 21, 2012

Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

Charles Dutoit, Chief Conductor
Maria João Pires, Piano
The Philadelphia Singers Chorale, David Hayes, Director

GLINKA Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé (complete)

Last Friday I attended the Phildelphia Orchestra's concert at Carnegie Hall.

The program began with a blazing account of Mikhail Glinka's overture to the opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila. This spirited piece affirmed that notwithstanding financial troubles, the Philadelphia Orchestra still ranks among the world's best with a distinctive sound that is surpassed only by the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic.

I have a treasured recording of Bach partitas by Maria João Pires so I was excited to see her live for the first time. At 67, she is still in top form and her lustrous rendition of Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 was nothing short of breathtaking. Her phrasing was full of longing and expectation and sounded achingly beautiful against the famous sheen of the orchestra's string section.

The complete ballet score of Daphnis et Chloé is considered to be Maurice Ravel's masterpiece though it's not my favorite work by the composer - not enough rhythmic variety for me, something like Bolero on a grander scale. Still, the impressionist soundscape has its own beauty and Dutoit drew a committed and polished performance from the orchestra and chorale.

I do hope that the Philadelphia Orchestra sorts out its financial affairs and emerges from bankruptcy soon. It is a national treasure and deserves the full support of its subscribers and classical music lovers everywhere. I'm looking forward to hearing them again next season.

Here is Pires performing the Larghetto from Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2.

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