Van Zweden and Phelps Perform Wagner, Adolphe, and Tchaikovsky

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Jaap van Zweden begins his tenure as conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

Tune in Thursday at 9 pm to hear New York Philharmonic This Week with new conductor Jaap van Zweden leads the ensemble in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. Program also includes Wagner's Prelude to Act 1, Lohengrin and Julia Adolphe's Unearth, Release (Concerto for Viola & Orchestra). The soloist is violist Cynthia Phelps. 

Conductor:                   Jaap van Zweden

Soloists:                       Cynthia Phelps, viola


WAGNER: Prelude to Act 1, Lohengrin

JULIA ADOLPHE: Unearth, Release (Concerto for Viola & Orchestra)

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4


Comments [2]

Nick from Upper West Side, New York

The last two movements (especially the last because of the crazy tempo he took it at and the tremendous execution from the orchestra) were literally electrifying. Definitely want to hear this again—it looks like van Zweden's whipping the Philharmonic into shape again and really pushing them to their limits!

Dec. 19 2016 04:41 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

It's difficult for me to accept Wagner and Tchaikovsky on the same program, just as it is the same regarding Tchaikovsky and Brahms, though I revere all three. The Prelude to Act I of "Lohengrin" makes me eager to hear Mr. van Sweden conduct an entire opera or music drama of Wagner's. The tempo, "Langsam", and the divided strings playing pure triads when they occured were, indeed, ethereal-sounding. When the brass choir entered with the Grail motif, it was well-balanced and not blasted at full volume: this opera isn't "Go"tterda"mmerung". The Prelude itself is a masterpiece of construction that was revealed in the playing. There are four solo violins and both first and second violins divided in four parts. They play alone until the reeds enter, when the solos play with the four parts. When the horns enter, the violins are in their usual two sections, but when the initial principal material is heard again as a reprise, the initial four solo and four sections are again employed. The viola concerto left me with a divided opinion. The viola's music in the first movement sounded much like a cadenza or a rhapsodic variation and seemed much at variance with the orchestra's pedal points and "neo-impressionistic" accompaniment. Is there such a term? I loved the quicksilver second movement: it had thrust and a spirit of adventure. The final movement seemed a world-weary threnody that seemed tailor-made for the viola's capability to reveal poignancy, especially on its highest A string. I would rather hear the work as a two-movement one, with a bit of expository writing from the first movement dovetailing into the second movement. The final two movements I'd very much like to hear again. The Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony had much to praise in all the reed solos in the second movement and in the consistent well-burnished and power-laden brass choir. The strings, especially in the last movement, did yeoman service at the tempo asked of them, which for me was appropriate at the coda "Tempo I" but not consistently. The first movement's initial fanfare was pedestrian to my sensibility. The notes F to C with the accent written over it, should sound as if it were a labor: Fate. The sequence before the re-statement of the fate motive sounded pedestrian and willful instead of revealing because of the rubato employed and the dynamic which I thought was too soft. Before the last statement of the principal theme, there was hardly any pause at all. In the second movement, the subsidiary theme in the clarinet and bassoon was too soft and the subsequent triplets in the trumpets were scarcely audible. There was a a willful accent asked of the violins in the third movement that I thought did nothing but break up the phrase and call attention to itself: at one point, the first violins' part is B C D E D C B in which the "E" was accented. Why do this? I decry the seating plan Mr. van Sweden chose in which the first and second violins are seated together on the conductor's left.

Dec. 18 2016 02:44 PM

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