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N.Y. Times Taps Gilbert, Philharmonic, Phelps, McGill for 'Fantasy Festival'

Posted August 14, 2014

New York Times NY Philharmonic Alan Gilbert 

The New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert feature prominently in New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini's "fantasy music festival" of 20th Century American works, which he describes in a fascinating article in today's paper titled "They Heard America Playing: Copland, Thomson and Others in a Fantasy Music Festival." It's the latest piece in a series in which Times critics curate their personal fantasy art experiences.

For one program, I would draft Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic to perform symphonies and film scores by Copland and Thomson. The concert could open with Copland’s suite from “Our Town,” the wistfully beautiful score he composed for the classic 1940 film version of the Thornton Wilder play. This would be followed by Thomson’s Suite from “Louisiana Story,” little heard these days. Audiences would be swept away by the plaintive beauty and folkloric character of the music. ...

For the other symphonic program, I would again draft the Philharmonic but present the concert at Carnegie Hall and ask Marin Alsop to conduct. It would open with one of Piston’s smart, inventive Neo-Classical symphonies, perhaps the Second (1943) or the Sixth (1955), both of which I admire. I would couple a symphony with Piston’s remarkable 1957 Viola Concerto, with the Philharmonic’s superb principal violist, Cynthia Phelps, as soloist.

For a chamber-music concert, Tommasini picks incoming Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill to help play Roy Harris’s Concerto for String Quartet, Piano and Clarinet, "an inexplicably neglected work from the mid-1920s."