Ravel, Nielsen, and Tchaikovsky

The New York Philharmonic

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Ravel, Nielsen, and Tchaikovsky

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Conductor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, launches a new appointment as chief conductor designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra this fall, shortly after the opening of its already iconic new home. The Grammy Award–winning conductor previously served as principal guest conductor of the orchestra (then known as NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg) for more than a decade, and will assume the role of chief conductor in September 2019. This position follows his truly transformative eight-year tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, during which, through such key initiatives as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, he succeeded in making the Orchestra a leader on the cultural landscape. Alan Gilbert is also conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the founder and president of Musicians for Unity. With the endorsement and guidance of the United Nations, this new organization will bring together musicians from around the world to perform in support of peace, development, and human rights.

Alan Gilbert makes regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has led operatic productions for Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, where he was the inaugural music director.

His discography includes The Nielsen Project, a box set recorded with the New York Philharmonic, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, captured on DVD at The Metropolitan Opera, for which he won a Grammy Award. He received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts of two star-studded New York Philharmonic productions: of Sweeney Todd and Sinatra: Voice for a Century.

Alan Gilbert has received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College, as well as Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. At The Juilliard School, he is the first holder of the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies and serves as Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies. After giving the annual Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture on Orchestras in the 21st Century: A New Paradigm during the New York Philharmonic’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, he received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.

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Valses nobles et sentimentales

MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911; orch. 1912)

Inspired by Franz Schubert’s 1823–25 compositions of the same name, Ravel composed his exquisite suite of seven waltzes and an epilogue-waltz for piano and orchestrated it a year later as a ballet, Adélaïde, or The Language of the Flowers. The waltzes vary in tempo, mood, and treatment of the customary ¾ time, with several having a syncopated rhythm; the sixth waltz even alternates traditional and syncopated meters. Some are delicate; others are dissonant. Listeners will be reminded of harmonies Ravel uses in the Mother Goose Suite and his later La Valse. The final waltz is a sort of recap of the themes that have gone before, combining everything into intoxicating, sophisticated music that evokes a bygone era. Debussy said that this is the work of “the subtlest ear that ever existed.” Only the most restrained listener will be able to sit still during this glittering homage to the waltz.

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Clarinet Concerto

 
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Selections from Swan Lake

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–93)
Selections from Swan Lake (1876)

Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s first great ballet, was premiered in 1877 and has been a cornerstone of the ballet repertoire for nearly 140 years. Despite the poor quality of the production at the first performance, the ravishing score received critical raves. The romantic music was new to the ears of balletomanes, who were unaccustomed to a full-bodied sound of symphonic proportions. Our “concert performance” of excerpts allows you to savor Tchaikovsky’s lustrous sonorities to the fullest. The scenario is one of mistaken identities, centering on Prince Siegfried, the enchanted swan maiden Odette, and Odile, agent of Odette’s evil sorcerer/step-father. Different endings to the story exist — most of them tragic. Special highlights are the flight of Odette’s sister-swans, represented by harps, tremolo violins, and a haunting oboe solo; the romantic pas de deux between Siegfried and Odette; the dance of the young swans accompanied by a Russian folk melody; and the final apotheosis of the lovers.

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