You might hear a tantalizing doable future for the New York Philharmonic on Wednesday night at Alice Tully Corridor — in addition to a number of the orchestra’s current difficulties. This system at Tully, one of many Philharmonic’s bases as David Geffen Corridor is renovated this season, featured three up to date works. One was by the safely canonized John Adams, the opposite two by names newer to Philharmonic audiences: Missy Mazzoli and Anthony Davis.
Not that both of the 2 is admittedly unknown. Each have been tapped for premieres on the Metropolitan Opera within the coming years — for Davis, the belated Met debut of his “X: The Life and Occasions of Malcolm X,” from the Nineteen Eighties, and for Mazzoli, a new adaptation of George Saunders’s novel “Lincoln within the Bardo.” However till this week, neither had been performed on a Philharmonic subscription program.
Their works landed with persuasive panache on Wednesday, aided by highly effective however by no means overly brash conducting by Dalia Stasevska, additionally making her Philharmonic debut. However there have been some issues with the general sound. The sonic glare of Tully, typically a house for chamber music slightly than larger-scale up to date symphonic repertory, generally labored in opposition to the haunted sensuality of Mazzoli’s “Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres),” written in 2013 and revised three years later.
Stasevska fostered heat at any time when doable, shaping the 12-minute piece’s transfers of elegantly gloomy melodic ornaments from part to part of the ensemble with care and relish. And when a small military of harmonicas gently peeked out from behind the work’s typically mournful textures, they glimmered delicately. Stasevska additionally discovered moments to collaborate with the intense harshness of Tully’s acoustic, permitting herself a leap and a stomp on the rostrum throughout one transition between a string glissando and a full-orchestra blast. Name it combating the corridor to a draw.
Davis’s 25-minute, four-movement clarinet concerto “You Have the Proper to Stay Silent,” written in 2006 and revised in 2011, fared extra erratically. The beautifully various work was impressed by a time that Davis, who’s Black, was pulled over by the police whereas driving in Boston within the Seventies. Amid the dense music, he generally asks the gamers to recite parts of the Miranda warning. (On a recording by the Boston Trendy Orchestra Undertaking, that is performed in a deadened Sprechstimme.)
On Wednesday, the Philharmonic did properly by the concerto’s debt to Charles Mingus in passages of gravelly prolonged approach and others of deceptively breezy swing — and, as with Mingus, on the intersection of the 2.
However the preliminary vocalization of the Miranda textual content wasn’t fairly crisp sufficient, barely deflating the dramatic stakes. And the frenetic cello figures that adopted lacked the tight ensemble essential to counsel the primary motion’s title: “Interrogation.”
But the soloist, the Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, excelled within the grave materials for contra-alto clarinet within the second motion, “Loss,” whereas his sound turned extra arid amid extra assaultive music within the third motion, “Incarceration.” The sly closing motion, “The Dance of the Different,” felt probably the most impressed. There’s a satirical edge to this music, however in lingering, affecting phrases McGill additionally evoked a completely honest craving to journey from the grimness of interrogation, loss and incarceration.
With its febrile combination of influences from Minimalism, Hindemith’s pellucid peculiarity and traditional cartoons, Adams’s 22-minute Chamber Symphony for 15 musicians, from 1992 — which the Philharmonic has performed simply as soon as earlier than, in 2000 — wants subtlety in addition to brio. On Wednesday the center motion, “Aria With Strolling Bass,” was extra plodding than witty. However an brisk “Roadrunner” finale was a saving grace. (And McGill deserves plaudits for enjoying the fiendish piece proper after the Davis concerto, and with none intermission.)
Philharmonic audiences will get extra Adams quickly, and in additional welcoming acoustics, when the orchestra performs his Saxophone Concerto at Carnegie Corridor in January. However right here’s hoping we additionally hear extra of Davis’s music; how about his piano concerto “Wayang V,” with its composer as soloist? And extra Mazzoli, too. Hopefully each might be frequent presences as soon as the Philharmonic returns to Geffen Corridor subsequent season. Refreshed acoustics do solely a lot; Davis and Mazzoli will be a part of a refreshed repertoire.
New York Philharmonic
This program continues by Saturday at Alice Tully Corridor, Manhattan; nyphil.org.
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