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Alan Gilbert conducts Inon Barnatan, Salonen, Ravel, Debussy, and R. Strauss

Recorded March 19, 2015



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.

Learn more about Alan Gilbert



Inon Barnatan

Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan is a recipient of both the Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award. He has performed extensively with many of the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, San Francisco Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Royal Stockholm Symphony Orchestra, and Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra. He has worked with such conductors as Gustavo Dudamel, James Gaffigan, Susanna Mälkki, Matthias Pintscher, David Robertson, Thomas Søndergård, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edo de Waart, Pinchas Zukerman, and Jaap van Zweden. Passionate about contemporary music, the pianist has premiered new works composed for him by Matthias Pintscher, Sebastian Currier, and Avner Dorman.

In 2016–17 Inon Barnatan enters his third and final season as the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Artist-in-Association, a position created to spotlight an emerging artist over the course of three seasons through both concerto and chamber music performances and by cultivating a relationship among the artist, the Orchestra, and the audience. He also makes debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, led by New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Jesús López-Cobos; Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, led by Vasily Petrenko; and the Seattle Symphony, led by Ludovic Morlot. In addition to returning to the New York Philharmonic under Manfred Honeck, he embarks on three tours: of the U.S., with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields; of Europe, with cellist Alisa Weilerstein, his frequent recital partner; and of the U.S. again, performing a trio program with Ms. Weilerstein and Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill.

Inon Barnatan’s critically acclaimed discography includes Avie and Bridge recordings of Schubert’s solo piano works, as well as Darknesse Visible, which made The New York Times’s “Best of 2012” list. Last season he released Rachmaninov & Chopin: Cello Sonatas on Decca Classics with Ms. Weilerstein. 

Learn more about Inon Barnatan



Nyx (2010)

The composer’s notes about Nyx, Greek goddess of night, state, in part: “Nyx is a shadowy figure in Greek mythology; … we have no sense of her character or personality…. I’m not trying to describe this mythical goddess in any precise way musically. However, the almost constant flickering and rapid changing of textures and moods as well as a certain elusive character of many musical gestures may well be related to the subject. Nyx … employs a large orchestra, and has exposed concertante parts for solo clarinet and the horn section…. Its themes and ideas essentially keep their properties throughout the piece while the environment surrounding them keeps changing constantly. Mere whispers grow into roar; an intimate line of the solo clarinet becomes a slowly breathing broad melody of tutti strings.” calls Nyx “a tour de force … a darkly brilliant score,” influenced by Sibelius, with whom Salonen “shares much of the master’s sensitivity to low timbres and evocative use of effects to create vivid musical images.” The Los Angeles Times considered the work “splendid.”


Piano Concerto in G major

MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
Piano Concerto in G major (1929–31)

Ravel returned to France from his successful 1928 American concert tour (where he and George Gershwin had visited Harlem jazz clubs together) and began composing this G-minor Piano Concerto. Not surprisingly, it carries the imprint of the jazz craze then sweeping this country and Europe. A bracing whack from the “slap stick” or “whip” in the percussion section sends piano and orchestra off on an effervescent romp. The slightly offbeat main theme of the opening Allegramente is played first by the piccolo and then echoed by the trumpet, with the piano all the while showing off with glissandos and arpeggios. Ravel himself was astonished at what he accomplished in the lyrical second section (it “flowed so easily, so easily!  ... yet I put it together bar by bar and it nearly killed me.” The final Presto is a whirlwind of sound, again drawing on jazz. You’ll hear shrieks from the woodwinds, slides on the trombone, and muted trumpets, all in a breathless dash to the finish.



The fun-and-games scenario depicted in Debussy’s Jeux involves a tennis ball bouncing onto the stage, a boy and two girls playing tennis together, and what happens when the ball gets lost in the shrubbery. A variety of games ensues, from hide-and-seek to flirting to kissing, with some jealousy in the mix. As night falls, another ball appears out of nowhere, and the dancers — a bit startled — all run away. The music is colorful and full of the to-and-fro of the young people’s games, and the swirling sonorities are unmistakably Debussy’s. Listen for the entrance of the mysterious second tennis ball, sounded by a C-major triad, toward the end. Debussy’s somewhat suggestive Jeux might have caused its own small scandale if it wasn’t soon overshadowed by the wild Parisian premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring a couple of weeks later. (And let’s not forget the shock caused by Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, another balletic menage a trois). 


Der Rosenkavalier Suite

Der Rosenkavalier Suite (1944)

The opera Der Rosenkavalier made Richard Strauss’s name a household word. It has everything an opera lover could want: a beautifully crafted libretto, a clever plot that combines humor and bittersweet sentimentality, dazzling waltzes, arguably the most gorgeous music ever composed for female voices, and an ending that never fails to bring tears to the eyes of the listener. Strauss gathered the highpoints from his most popular opera into an opulent suite that’s sure to transport you to Vienna’s golden age: a virile, typically-Straussian horn call launches the suite; the exquisite music from the presentation of the rose follows; then it’s a taste of the deliciously seductive waltzes; and finally the wistful trio and final duet (which The Rough Guide to Classical Music praises as: “the most overwhelmingly beautiful music composed [in the 20th] century.” Another rousing waltz brings this delightful suite to a close.

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