Review Roundup: Jaap van Zweden Leads Mahler and Glass at David Geffen Hall
On September 22 and 23 at David Geffen Hall, Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic's Music Director Designate, led Mahler's Fifth Symphony and the New York premiere of a concerto by Philip Glass, composed for the Labèque sisters. This performance opened the new season of the New York Philharmonic.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times: It was revealing to hear Mr. van Zweden's Mahler performance twice over a few days. And I have much respect for what he achieved. The playing he drew from the orchestra was incisive and lucid. During whole episodes of this fraught symphony, especially the discursive, wild-eyed Rondo-Finale, it can be hard to follow what's going on. Mr. van Zweden excelled at making the music's structural elements - what leads to what - clear... It was an important night for Mr. Glass, and for the Philharmonic, and an encouraging signal from Mr. van Zweden, not generally known for contemporary music, that he won't stint it during his tenure.
George Grelia, New York Classical Review: Then came the marvelous, velvety, minor key final movement, with some of Glass' subtlest and deepest harmonies which proved beautiful and affecting. The wistful poise of the music was inspired... Full of seemingly inexhaustible energy and red-hot, it was an undeniably exciting performance. It was also a display of the talent of this orchestra, with every section and soloist playing brilliantly.
Christopher Jones, Zeal NYC: I felt the Ravel G-major concerto whispering behind the second movement, and the slow wind-down of the opening movement distinctly evokes Shostakovich, whom Glass greatly admires. The Labèques played it with absolute commitment and beauty of tone, and van Zweden conducted with real feeling, so that it came over with moment-by-moment inflections that often go missing in more poker-faced specialist readings... Still, van Zweden is better than just about anybody in the business at holding this kind of thing together and making all of Mahler's sudden shifts and turns seems organic and coherent, clarifying, keeping in balance, and finally driving home what Ernst Krenek called the "curiously ruthless contrapuntal technique" Mahler pursued in this piece.
Photo: Chris Lee