Nobilimente

Sorry to not have been posting for a bit, will try to catch up in the next few days with some posts about CDs to which I have been listening.

For now, let me briefly note that despite the potentially morale-sapping news coming out of the Philadelphia Orchestra these days, they sounded superb at last night’s concert. I attended so I could hear Sir Andrew Davis, who conducted the premiere of my Songs for Adam with the Chicago Symphony last fall. The program was Mozart and Elgar – Clemanza di Tito overture, 4th violin concerto with Stefan Jackiw, and Elgar 1. Avery Fisher Grant winner Jackiw was very impressive: a slightly cold edge to the sound of his first entrance was quickly replaced by warmth and brilliance. He offered an encore, a remarkably languorous Bach largo.

Elgar is not my favorite composer, but last night’s symphony sounded more like chamber music than movie music. Davis and the Philadelphia traded richness and sheer beauty of sound for the more usual bombast associated with this piece, and formally it hung together better than it usually does.  The subtlety of Elgar’s orchestration was emphasized. Listening from the front of the 3rd tier in Verizon Hall was better than what I have experienced in seats lower down, where the orchestra can sound like it is playing from a greater distance than is actually the case. The program made me more appreciative than ever of how fortunate I was to work with Maestro Davis on Adam.

One thought on “Nobilimente

  1. I’ve actually become a bit more of an Elgar fan in the last few years. I always thought the “Enigma” Variations to be a really great work, likewise the Cello Concerto. Several years back I sang “The Music Makers,” a very over-the-top piece with many self-quotations (including some from the “Enigma” Variations and the Finale of the Second Symphony), but also rather stirring in many parts. I recently picked up Colin Davis’ latest recordings of the symphonies on iTunes. I don’t even bother with the purported version of the Third that is proffered there; I listened all the way through once, but that sort of thing is much too speculative for me. I still found the First to be too prolix for my taste, but liked the Second much better. The Introduction and Allegro for strings isn’t bad either. In the end I guess my favorites still are the Cello Concerto and “Enigma.” Gerontius has very beautiful moments (very redolent of Parsifal in some ways), but in the end is still too much of a slog for me. I still think he gets something of a bum rap; even with his faults I think he’s much more than the stuffy Victorian/Edwardian that he’s portrayed as being, and of course he towers above most of his English contemporaries.

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