All Nielsen Program

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert leads the orchestra in the continuation of its Nielsen Project with a performance of Nielsen’s Helios Overture, Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 4.

Program details:

Nielsen: Helios Overture

Nielsen: Symphony No. 1

Nielsen: Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable"

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

Among the momunental and felicitous achievements of Alan Gilbert's tenure as Music Director is the conception and executino of the Nielsen Project. Here's a relatively unperformed master whose music should appeal readily to those who don't care for dodecaphonic systems. His appeal is firmly based on classical forms and harmonies, yet with a personal "twist" being "progressive tonality". His key takes an unexpected turn that generatees a section that further generates a neighboring but similarly unexpected key. That can be said of the Third Symphony onward. The Fourth Symphony "The Inextinguishable" is a wellspring of variety and integration based on a descending scale of four notes with one repeated. The woodwind solos at approximate midpoint "Poco allegretto", were well-balanced and provided appropriate quite contrast to the outgoiog beginning. The famous "dueling timpani" for two players were given their due and it's understandable why this is the composer's most popular symphony. The First Symphony is a singular example of what could be done with classic form in the Twentieth Century. Short motives --- Nielsen was enamored of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and was attempting to memorize it at the time of its composition --- are played with little counterpoint and are thus readily memorable when developed. The slow movement is a songful yet somewhat elegiac movement. The Scherzo, in 6-4 and Alla breve, is highly syncopated and makes use of polyrhythm. I think it's the most inventive movement in the symphony. The last movement "Allegro molto" in a rapid 12-4 time, is no less inventive and ingenious in its use of small motives generating harmonic expansion. The "Helios Overture" is programmatic of sunrise noontide and sunset; and from its pianississimo beginning in the contrabasses and 'cellos builds in increaing texture approaching massive sonority, as expected, in the noontide section, only to lessen during the sunset section to the beginning's soft, evocative beginning. The playing througout was incisive and sure; and if there were any faults in articulation or phrasing, they were unheard by this listener.

Mar. 30 2014 06:06 PM

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