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Alan Gilbert Concert Report

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Updated: Apr 10th, 2020

New York Philharmonic is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world; more than 180 concerts are performed there annually. The concert under current consideration is already past; it lasted for three days: September 30, October 1 and 3, 2009. The symphonic orchestra with the legendary pianist Emanuel Ax under the direction of Alan Gilbert, New York Philharmonic’s Director, performed one of the most captivating programs in my life.

Four greatest compositions were presented: EXPO by Magnus Lindberg, Symphony No. 2 by Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives as well, and Piano Concerto No. 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Each of these compositions was created in different periods. However, their combination demonstrated unbelievable harmony of sounds and tastes.

I was pleasantly amazed at the music, I heard during that concert: I got a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the combination of sounds, which brought me somewhere far away of the reality, and each composition chose own destination that leads me to my great satisfaction.

In this report, I want to share my impressions of the concert and represent brief information about each composition that made this symphonic concert unforgettable and unique in the history of the New York Philharmonic.

Magnus Lindberg wanted to create a significant introduction that could underline Alan Gilbert’s skills and professionalism. It is one of the most important parts of any concert – to present a worthwhile beginning to capture listeners’ attention and involve them in the rich world of music. Once, the composer admitted that “the orchestra… is my favorite instrument” (New York Philharmonic, 26); this is why all his works should not be evaluated as the compositions for only one or several instruments.

Lindberg’s works involve the participation of numerous instruments at once, and their separation is impossible during the whole composition. EXPO was created in 2009; the peculiar feature of this work is a clear contrast between slow tempos and fast tempos.

These two types of tempos turned out to be the main vocabulary of the compositions, where such instruments like flutes, piccolo, clarinets, horns, trumpets, drum, strings, and some others were the major participants. When I heard such a magnificent beginning, I realized that the money I spent on that concert was justified.

The second composition that was presented during the concert under Alan Gilbert direction was Symphony No. 2 by Charles Ives. I read that Charles Ives dreamt about to hear how this symphony of his would be performed in the New York Philharmonic one day (New York Philharmonics, 27). He could not even think that within a short period, his works, his great compositions would be so encouraged in many philharmonics, and lots of people would come to the New York Philharmonics to listen to his Symphony No.2.

Due to his amateur abilities, Charles Ives was able to create the compositions, which united harmony and notes in the best ways ever. During this composition of Ives, I certainly heard flutes, clarinets, and some kinds of drums. With the help of the information, presented within the program of the concert, I got a chance to read what concrete instruments were used.

Cooperation of bassoons and contrabassoons with a piccolo and clarinets was amazing. Alternate increasing and slowing down tempo made me attentive to each change: I felt like I was swinging for some time, and my emotions were hard to control. I did not believe that music could burn such feelings, but the music I heard made me change my mind and look forward to another composition.

The beginning of The Unanswered Question reminded me of one of those cartoons, I liked to watch when I was a child. The players were divided into three groups to represent various tempo, sonority, and texture. The mood of this composition was rather funny and even playful like a cat is going to catch the mouse, but the results can hardly be called successful.

The use of trumpet and the strings was perfectly chosen for this performance in addition to the idea to develop the orchestra into three groups and provide them with absolutely different instructions. The point is that it did not look like uncontrolled uproar; these three groups supported each other and offered own comprehension of the situation. Telling the truth, I was impressed even by my reaction to this composition – I was burned with a desire to observe anyone, who was in the hall, to find someone I knew.

It was my hunting, and this music developed more and more desire to move and catch the desirable object. When the music was over, I realized that my emotions prevailed for some time. And I suddenly thought that the composer could even guess the possible emotions of his listeners and even analyzed when it was necessary to stop.

Finally, the time for the fourth composition came: I was waiting for it for such a long period. The solo piano of Emanuel Ax was amazing. Lots of different emotions, astonishment, happiness, and tears became interwoven somewhere inside of me. The work by Emanuel Ax, his feelings, and understanding of Beethoven thoughts was represented on a high level. Piano Concerto No. 4 was perfumed in G major allegro moderato.

Cooperation of Ax and Gilbert achieved unbelievable success: leading piano, several bassoons, horns, trumpets, oboes, and a flute. Piano’s fast tempo in addition to a bit slower tempo of the orchestra – this is what made the final composition the greatest one among the rest.

Captivating beginning from Lindberg, worthwhile middle by Ives and amazing final by Beethoven – beyond all doubts, the chosen compositions have so much in common. The last minutes of the concert was the most amazing for me, because happy mood, certain changes in dynamics, and my interpretations of the music were proper and even perfectly combined.

In general, this visit to the symphonic concert should be considered as one of the most successful and effective ones. Four compositions, which were created in different years met on one stage under the direction of one person, Alan Gilbert. The participation of Emanuel Ax made this concert captivating and interesting to so many people. When someone performs Beethoven’s works, it is always interesting to listen to such interpretation, because something new could be discovered any time.

The concert in the New York Philharmonics made me change my mind as for the role of classical music in general. Those, who still do not believe that classics makes people evaluate the same things from absolutely different perspectives, should immediately listen to the above-mentioned four compositions. EXPO, Symphony No. 2, The Unanswered Question, and Piano Concerto No. 4 is a real treasure, discovered by the New York Philharmonic.

Works Cited

New York Philharmonic. 2009.

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