Sunday, November 28, 2010

New York Philharmonic - Mozart, Haydn & Tchaikovsky - 11/27/10

Conductor: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Mozart: String Quintet in G Minor, K. 516 – Glenn Dicterow, Michelle Kim, Cynthia Phelps, Rebecca Young and Carter Brey
Haydn: Symphony No 100 in G Major, Hob. I: 100, “Military”
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 – Leonidas Kavakos

After the excellent big adventure that Don Carlo was on Friday night, I was back at the Lincoln Center yesterday afternoon for more musical revelry: a concert by the NY Philharmonic under the guidance, for the occasion, of much sought after Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. What was extra special about it though, was the presence of Leonidas Kavakos as the soloist for Tchaikovsky’s dazzling violin concerto. The rest of the program was featuring a Mozart string quintet and Haydn’s Military symphony, standard fare, yes, but high quality nonetheless.

It all started very elegantly with the Mozart quintet, which, in line with the Viennese tradition of that time, was the combination of two violins, two violas and one cello. This particular piece from the Austrian composer expresses a wide range of moods and the five eminent members of the NY Philharmonic on the stage did a superb job in joining forces. Such a superb job, in fact, that they got applause between almost each movement!
In 1794, Mozart’s contemporary Haydn was living in England, where he ended up writing 12 symphonies within a few years. The No 100 was dubbed Military and has enjoyed a wide popularity as soon as it was premiered. Listening to it yesterday was like going back to that politically troubled period in Europe, complete with calls to battle and heroic charges, as Maestro Frühbeck led the orchestra into a vivid interpretation of it.
Last, but definitely not least, came Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto courtesy of Leonidas Kavakos. Building up expectations is not necessarily a good thing as one must eventually live up to them, but our violinist was obviously more than ready for it. Dark-clad and serious-looking, he ripped through the majestic first movement with an equal amount of force and lightness, effortlessly negotiating his way through the treacherous minefield. His performance of it was actually so electrifying that the audience started clapping before he got a chance to wrap it up and even gave him a mini but lingering standing ovation (Not sure where they were all coming from, but overall they did seem a bit over-excitable.). After he calmed everybody down, we eventually all moved on to the other two movements, the sweetly melancholic Canzonetta and the fiercely pyrotechnical Finale, which he handled with the same spectacular expertise. Definitely worth the wait... and the interruption.

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