Saturday evening I caught another of my subscription concerts with the New York Philharmonic, with guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.
1. I enjoyed the pre-concert email of notes and snailmail letter inviting me to take a friend to the concert. I did, and he enjoyed it greatly! I think it's a brilliant move to offer subscribers to "take a friend" - on all levels, for exposure for the new audience member, for the orchestra playing to a fuller house, etc.
2. Principal Oboist Liang Wang was in fine form for Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin. In fact it was a fine opener all around, and the crowd seemed especially into the night's guest, Salonen.
3. Yefim Bronfman was certainly up for the evening's new work, dedicated to him, and Bronfman was indeed a delight to hear and see. For this world premiere performance of Salonen's Piano Concerto, he used music and had a page turner - and what a workout. I had been surprised it was not only recieved favorably, but also got sparkling reviews from the critics! I should clarify my surprise by noting it is a delightful work and am pleased it will be recorded - keep an eye out for it.
4. The second half was as exciting as the first, with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition getting a fresh and energetic reading. Section by section, players wove great music making with delightful technique.
5. My final surprise of the evening was a standing ovation for the Mussorgsky. New York has been the one place where I haven't seen the ubquitous standing o for every performance...and not to say the Saturday performance wasn't amazing, it just caught me off guard. I truly believe that it mostly came from the visiting Maestro and his dynamicism - desipte all the work from the orchestra. There is something magical about Salonen and it clearly is felt by audiences.
There's another performance of Salonen's Piano Concerto this week, catch it if you can. And if you get a chance to hear Salonen and his normal band, the LA Phil, in concert at Disney Hall, do that as well, you won't be disappointed.