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Viva España! New York Philharmonic: Summertime Classics
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Viva España! New York Philharmonic: Summertime Classics

- Music Performance Reviews

New York Philharmonic
(www.newyorkphilharmonic.org)
Summertime Classics
Viva España!

Lorin Maazel, Music Director

Bramwell Tovey, Conductor
Sharon Isbin, Guitar

Performed at Avery Fisher Hall
Lincoln Center
(Lincoln Center Website)
212.875.5656

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 25, 2004

Chabrier (1841-1894): España, Rhapsody for Orchestra (1883). España premiered in 1883 at a concert in Paris, conducted by Charles Lamoureux. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1907, Walter Damrosch conducting. Included in instrumentation are two cornets, cymbals, and two harps. (Program Notes). Maestro Bramwell Tovey is the most warm and charming conductor I’ve seen in some time and perfectly suited to lead and host the New York Philharmonic Summertime Classics. His wit and incidental information that draws the audience into every piece, his dynamic charisma, and his mastery of every work, created a sense of joyful anticipation toward the unfolding of each evening’s concert.

España evoked the rhythms and music of a bullfight, the historical sounds of Spain. Maestro Tovey brought out the volume and velocity of this piece with a wave of his baton toward the percussionists. España is a wonderful concoction of music from Spain.

Massenet (1842-1912): Ballet Music from Le Cid (1885); Aragonaise, Aubade, Catalane, Madrilène, Navarraise. This ballet premiered in 1885 at the Paris Opéra. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1914, Walter Damrosch conducting. Included in instrumentation are two oboes, castanets, bass drum, and tuba. (Program Notes). After hearing these orchestral excerpts from the ballet, Le Cid, I would love to see this in ballet genre. The opening passages that included string and percussive effects were followed by rapturous moments. Flute, castanets, and tambourine enhanced the Madrilène. One could imagine male bravura leaps and spins in the Navarraise. Le Cid had not been performed since 1914 by NY Philharmonic, prior to tonight.


Rodrigo (1901-1999): Concierto de Aranjuez (1939); Allegro con spirito, Adagio, Allegro gentile. Sharon Isbin, Guitar. Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez premiered in 1940 in Barcelona. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1970, Andre Kostelanetz conducting. Included in instrumentation are English horn, two bassoons, two clarinets, and solo guitar. (Program Notes). Concierto has a soft, mesmerizing melody. Ms. Isbin, in a casual manner, related to her audience with more than a glance. Slow passages developed richness through the textures of Ms. Isbin’s romantic guitar. In this piece, I imagined a lone Flamenco dancer in dramatic gesture, ruffled skirt, and black lace fan.


Ravel (1875-1937): Alborada del gracioso (1904-1905; orch 1918). Alborada del gracioso premiered in orchestral version in 1919 in Paris. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1925, Walter Damrosch conducting. Included in instrumentation are English horn, xylophone, triangle, and tambourine. (Program Notes). This piece resonated with lovelorn languor.


Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908): Capriccio espagnol, op. 34 (1887); Morning Song, Variations, Morning Song, Scene and Gypsy Song, Asturian Fandango. Capriccio espagnol premiered in 1887 in St. Petersburg, the composer conducting. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1904, Henry Joseph Wood conducting. Included in instrumentation are four horns, cymbals, harp, and two clarinets. (Program Notes). With additional Flamenco elements, Capriccio Espagnol also featured a seasoned violin solo by Glenn Dicterow. Although Rimsky-Korsakov never traveled to Spain, he composed this work with the spirit and sound of Spanish toreadors and Gypsy dancers.


Falla (1876-1946): Suite no. 2 from El sombrero de très picos (The Three-cornered Hat: 1916-1921); The Neighbors: Seguidillas, The Miller’s Dance: Farruca, Final Dance: Jota. De Falla’s Suite no. 2 premiered in 1919, performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Ernest Ansermet conducting. The NY Philharmonic premiere was in 1925, Willem Mengelberg conducting. Included in instrumentation are piano (celesta), tam-tam, tuba, and xylophone. (Program Notes). The Three-cornered Hat, originally performed by the Ballets Russes with sets by Picasso, has a humorous, slapstick plot, involving a miller, who flirts with the governor’s wife. Falla invokes all the sounds of classical Spain, with musical impressions that bring flowers, lace, and attitude to mind.

Kudos to Maestro Bramwell Tovey, and kudos to guitarist, Sharon Isbin for a grand night at the Philharmonic.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net