Monday, February 16, 2015
David Zinman conducts Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with Lisa Batiashvili and the New York Philharmonic
Reviewed by Dwight Casimere
NEW YORK--The sympatico between New York-born guest conductor David Zinman and Georgian-born Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-In-Residence Lisa Batiashvili could not have been more palpable in their peformance of Samuel Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.
Zinman's assuring tempo and deft handling of the intricate melodies that emerged and receded in the Andante and Presto in moto perpetuo created the perfect platform for Batiashvili's soaring tone with her 1739 Guarnerri "del Gesu" violin. The two had performed the piece together several times before in Europe, but this was their first time performing it in what the artist called "its home" in America. It was by all measures a commanding performance. There were moments of sheer ectacy, notably the oboe solo by principal oboist Liang Wang.
Zinman opened the program with an evocative reading of the piece "Iscariot" by The Marie-Josee Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse. Inspired partially by the name of Jjudas Iscariot, Christ's betrayer as recorded in the New Testament, the work is at once autobiographical and riddled with musical references to Bach and his cantatas and the work of the composer Gustav Mahler. The piece begins with startling opening strokes from the timpani and hammer and moves through a series of airy and eerie passages that are punctuated with the rare appearance of the celesta, providing added musical color. The composer took the stage for a much-deserved standing ovation.
Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 in E minor mined its several Romantic themes which have been turned into popular songs and film scores for all of its sweeping drama. Zinman had the orchestra playing from its collective heart right to the thrilling conclusion which bristled with restless energy. Yo Yo Ma brings his Silk Road Ensemble to Avery Fisher Hall Feb 18-21 with an additional Chinese Ne Year concert with Yo-Yo Ma Feb 24. The orcherstra then performs Sibeliius and Brahms with Frank Peter Zimmermann, Violin Feb 26-28. For tickets and information visit nyphil.org.