I went to hear Chris Rouse’s Oboe Concerto tonight with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Alan Gilbert conducting, and the superb Richard Woodhams as soloist. The piece is in what the composer calls his “genial” mode – as opposed to a demonic piece like his Pulitzer Prize winning Trombone Concerto. I was most taken with the slow music – exquisite colors, both in the sense of harmony and of orchestral timbre. The contrasting fast playful sections are brilliant, but it was the ecstatic stillness supporting the intensely lyrical Woodhams oboe that was most striking.
Gilbert opened the program with the piece Magnus Lindberg wrote for Gilbert’s inaugural concert as music director of the NY Phil – it is called EXPO (not sure why the all-caps). The piece works with a rather French sounding harmonic language, something it shared with the Rouse. Beethoven 6 closed the program in a performance memorable for some moments of remarkably soft but rich string playing and the characterful wind solos – it was a great night for wind playing all around. Bravo to Alan Gilbert for programming not one but two new pieces.