Friday, June 03, 2011

PBS Great Performance Broadcast – Carnegie Hall’s 120th Anniversary Concert. May 31, 2011.

South Amboy, NJ

Carnival Overture by Dvorak
Triple Concerto by Beethoven
--- Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Gil Shaham, violin; Emanuel Ax, piano
Songs by Duke Ellingthon
--- Solitude
--- Sophisticated Lady
--- It don’t Mean a Thing
--- Audra McDonald, soloist
An American in Paris by Gershwin

This program was performed by New York Philharmonic, with Alan Gilbert conducting, as part of the celebration of Carnegie Hall’s 120th Anniversary. The actual performance occurred on May 6, I believe. Anne and I saw the PBS broadcast in the comfort of our house.

I usually can’t sit through a TV program such as this, but certainly had no trouble doing so with this one. The program lasted less than 90 minutes, which is typically the amount of music one gets to hear in a concert. One good thing is that they didn’t show chairs being reshuffled in between pieces, nor was there an intermission.

To me, writing a review about it would be weird, and I don’t intend to do so. Not much, anyway. Even though it is a recording of a live performance, the balance of the soloists and the orchestra can be worked out such that every part sounds clear. You don’t get that great balance sitting in the auditorium. And the brass instruments sounded excellent.

One other remark I want to make is about Beethoven’s Triple Concerto. The three soloists certainly worked very well together, and Yo-Yo Ma seemed to enjoy himself tremendously. The New York Times Review pointed out Beethoven never wrote a cello concerto, and many cellists consider this work to be the closest approximation to one. Dicterow excused himself, but Brey didn’t; and Ma didn’t shake the principal cellist hand effusively (as he did at the concert late last year.)

NYT says McDonald sang four songs; I remember only three, and don’t recall falling asleep. Missing from my list is "On a Turquoise Cloud."

The NYT review is quite informative. The reviewer wanted more contemporary music for the program; I thought it was just right (well, I had to "suffer through" the Ellington pieces, jazz not being a favorite genre of mine). 120 years ago it was to mark the “birth” of the concert hall, and no one had any idea how its role in classical music would evolve, so there was really not much to guide the program. After more than a century, there is certainly a rich history to remember the place by. One could even argue perhaps they should perform the pieces that got played most often in the Hall’s history. Now that I mentioned it, I wonder what they are.

Tickets for the actual concert were quite expensive, and people were dressed more formally than usual for an evening concert in New York. I am not sure I am comfortable with that, even though I would have found the concert very enjoyable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems like you always find faults in any of your posting.