Best of The New York Philharmonic
Premieres Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m. on Q2
Sunday, May 01, 2011
This week on Cued Up, Q2 host and contemporary pianist Conor Hanick handpicks some of his favorite live performances by the New York Philharmonic. All documented within the Phil's last three seasons, listen to a jaw-dropping program of Charles Ives, Anton Webern, Matthias Pintscher, George Benjamin and resident composer, Magnus Lindberg.
Starting off is Ives's The Unanswered Question, and then one of Webern's earliest works, Im Sommerwind (In the Summer Wind). Each piece, glistening with lush string arrangements and lyricism, offers a fascinating moment of aesthetic coincidence in the careers of two wildly disparate composers.
Later in the program, hear how Pintscher, Benjamin and Lindberg -- all serious students of the European avant-garde tradition -- have eschewed and/or funneled their influences into their own distinct voices.
In Toward Osiris: Study for Orchestra, Pintscher, who studied with Manfred Trojahn and Giselher Klebe, blends undulating textural sounds, near-whispers, gnarly brass density, and melodic fragments of raw emotion into his own rich language.
In Dance Figures, Benjamin, the famed pupil of Olivier Messiaen, isn't afraid of some thorough explorations into non-repetitive melodies and wild musical narrative. There's a downright hallucinatory moment nine minutes, five seconds into the piece, when some droning brass enters amidst a web of remarkably elastic ensemble work. A must-hear.
Lastly, Lindberg's Arena challenges the orchestra to plenty of micro-complexities while delivering those grand gestures that listeners drool for. Listen closely to the strings towards the end; the funny thing is that with all of the serious ghosts of the recent Euro avant-garde world breathing down Lindberg's neck, you might be more reminded of Mahler's romanticism than the spectralism pioneered by his teacher, Gérard Grisey.