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BWW Reviews: The New York Philharmonic Takes to the Stars!

Related: 'SUMMERTIME CLASSICS', the New York Philharmonic, Gustav Holst, 'THE PLANETS', NASA

The iconic first movement, "Mars the Bringer of War," has spawned so many Hollywood composer sound-alikes that it is hardly worth mentioning them ("Star Wars," "Star Trek," "The Omen," "Close Encounters," etc.). Maestro Tovey brought forth a level of volume in the final part of this movement that was both thrilling and frightening (in fact, severAl Small children sitting in front of me burst out crying at that moment).

After the bombast of "Mars," the quiet "Venus, the Bringer of Peace" is often just a chance to rest and catch your breath, but Maestro Tovey elicited such ravishingly delicate playing that it was a highlight of evening. "Mercury" was reminiscent of the Adams' piece in the first half both in terms of its tempo and its brevity.

"Jupiter" is probably the best known section of the suite, with its famous center section melody providing the musical bed to the popular post-WWI English hymn: "I Vow to Thee My Country." Tovey took a particularly brisk pace with this movement, which worked well in the more lively sections, but robbed the slower bits of some of their splendor. The brass of the Philharmonic gets special notice for their performance in this movement; playing with exceptional tenderness and majesty in the hymn-like center, then playing positively explosively during the final section.

"Uranus" and "Neptune" are the most mysterious and enigmatic movements of the suite and are aptly named "The Magician" and "The Mystic." The female voices of the MSM Chamber Chorus and Oratorio Society of New York joined the Philharmonic for the finale, as off-stage choir. They provided the eerily distant and evocative effect at the end of the piece as the universe drifts away into silence.

The sold-out house burst into wild applause at the end of the performance, and Maestro and Orchestra answered with a rare encore. In keeping with the theme of the evening they gave a spirited rendition of John William's "The Imperial March" (Darth Vadar's Theme) from Star Wars. The piece felt like a flimsy throw-away after the Holst material preceding it, but the audience went wild for it.

These multi-media performances are cropping up all around the country these days and appear to be, at least on the surface, a successful outreach to a more popular audience (all three performances this week were complete sell-outs). There can be no question that the images projected at the HD Odyssey Concert were stunning and powerful. It can also be said that they certainly benefited greatly from the ravishing musical accompaniment provided for them. However, one wonders if the music actually gained anything from the visual accompaniment? Or did it simply distract from it? It seems to me that music this magical played with the power and the passion of the New York Philharmonic at the height of its powers needs no further decoration.

Peter Danish

Editor-in-Chief

BWW Classical Music

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Peter Danish Peter Danish is a Media Marketing Consultant and Classical Arts Presenter. He is a founding member of ArtsRock, where he presented concerts with such world renowned artists as Grammy winning Classical Guitarist Sharon Isbin, Grammy winning Violinist Marc O'Connor, The Eroica Trio, The American Brass Quintet, The New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet, Alec Baldwin, Louis Black and Robert Klein. At The Riverspace Performing Arts Center, he presented such artists as Meryl Streep, Jonathan Demme, Bill T. Jones, Bill Irwin, Mike Nichols, Ani Di Franco, Eve Ensler, Pete Seeger, Ellen Burstyn, Edward Albee and Kathleen Turner. He has programmed concerts and educational programs for a multitude of local arts organizations including the American National Opera and the Westchester Hudson Opera, and has lectured on opera and classical music in schools and libraries as part of their outreach programs. For over two decades he has served as Director of Marketing for NBC, Vice President of Marketing for Telemundo, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Azteca TV Network, and Marketing Consultant to PBS. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild of America, The Wagner Society of N.Y. and Board of Trustees of the award-winning classical concert series, The Carnegie Room Concerts at the Nyack Library. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ad Age, Ad Week and Media Week.


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by Peter Danish