New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, January 2, 2014
The New York Times, Jan. 4, 2014
My first concert review of 2014: a terrific program featuring the New York Philharmonic with its current artist in residence, pianist Yefim Bronfman, in a concerto by its former composer in residence, Magnus Lindberg; an opening piece by the current composer in residence, Christopher Rouse; and a rendition of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 that neatly sidestepped potential torpor and emerged as something fresh and vital.
None of it a small order, and all brilliantly achieved by Alan Gilbert and the ensemble. Nice to spot Erin Keefe, formerly a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and until recently the concertmaster of the tormented Minnesota Orchestra, now auditioning for the same role here as the orchestra prepares for Glenn Dicterow's departure at season's end. I admit that I have mixed feelings about that search – I would be perfectly glad to see Sheryl Staples, the Philharmonic's excellent principal associate concertmaster since 1998, slide over to the top chair permanently. But Keefe is a terrific musician that any ensemble would be fortunate to have as a leader.
The last repeat of this program was on Tuesday night, so you'll have to reply on the eventual radio or Internet broadcast if you missed it. That said, you can hear Bronfman, Gilbert and the Phil play Lindberg's Piano Concerto No. 2 on a Grammy-nominated (and actually meritorious!) CD released by Da Capo. Bronfman will also be featured in the Phil's next Contact! concert, next Monday night (January 13) at SubCulture, playing a solo piece by Marc Neikrug, who'll be on hand to host, and a piano trio by Marc-André Dalbavie. Poul Ruders's String Quartet No. 4 completes a worthwhile program, if one that seems to confirm my suspicion that Contact! has abandoned its original mission of showcasing newly commissioned works by emerging composers.