Review Roundup: New York Philharmonic in John Adams Celebration

Review Roundup: New York Philharmonic in John Adams Celebration

Music Director Alan Gilbert conducted the New York Philharmonic in a program celebrating John Adams's 70th birthday year, featuring John Adams's Harmonielehre and Absolute Jest - with the New York Philharmonic String Quartet as solo ensemble in its debut.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Corinna de Fonseca-Wollheim, NY Times: The first half of the concert was given over to a sparkling performance of Mr. Adams's "Absolute Jest" (2012), an exuberant concerto grosso for lightly amplified string quartet and large symphony orchestra, which quotes extensively from Beethoven. Hence the helpful but tantalizingly brief Beethoven samples offered as part of preconcert remarks by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, a marvelous ensemble newly formed by principal players from the orchestra.

George Grella, New York Classical Review: GIlbert led a controlled and well-shaped performance with solid Beethoven playing from the Philharmonic string principals (violinists Frank Huang and Sheryl Staples, violist Cynthia Phelps, and cellist Carter Brey)... Yet Absolute Jest remains a failure. The introduction is not better music, it's just a different emptiness. The improved transparency reveals the complete lack of invention. Quotes from the "Eroica" and Ninth Symphonies are dropped in, the quartet plays bits of the opening fugue and scherzo from String Quartet Op. 131, and the complete scherzo of Op. 135, and the orchestra picks up a few of those phrases.

Photo Credit: Chris Lee