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Alan Gilbert Receives Acclaim from Critics for Nielsen Concerts

Posted March 14, 2014

Alan Gilbert NY Philharmonic 

In his review of Wednesday evening's concert, The New York Times' Steve Smith praised Music Director Alan Gilbert's "assertive account" of Nielsen's Symphony No. 1. He added:

If the First Symphony was impressive, the Fourth was exhilarating, even breathtaking. Fleeting details stood out — delicate figurations passed among strings, succulent woodwind chorales, a duet for flute and horn that sounded like a conversation between a robin and a bullfrog — yet the entirety had an inexorable sweep.

The program opened with an account of the mysterious, Greek-inspired “Helios” overture, an immediate show of Mr. Gilbert’s sympathetic mastery... Zachary Woolfe, describing in The New York Times a Nielsen-heavy 2012 concert as one of the strongest efforts of Mr. Gilbert’s tenure to date, noted his animated engagement and the response it galvanized from the players.

The same was resoundingly true on Wednesday, prompting the audience to recall Mr. Gilbert to the stage repeatedly with a lengthy, hearty ovation.

George Grella, in New York Classical Review, called the concert "magnificent":

Gilbert understands the shape of the music and allowed it to flow — the emphasis was on where it was going, not what it was doing. He brought out unusual fullness in the string section, here and throughout the concert. ...

Gilbert and musicians conveyed a joyous sense of striding towards the grand reward of the music’s ravishing, unsentimental climaxes. ...

The Nielsen sound brings out the best in the Philharmonic: muscular, warm, open-throated, even slightly rough playing that seems ideal. Everyone has a chance to play not just loud but with gusto. Every bar was gripping.

If the playing of Symphony No. 1 was exciting, Symphony No. 4, after intermission, was blazing. The piece doesn’t begin so much as it erupts, quickly followed by gentle, lyrical music in the strings and winds. The orchestra’s intensity and expression was just as compelling when quiet. Every phrase was played with the sense that a powerful meaning lay just under the surface, and that there was an emotional and intellectual purpose behind all the notes. ...

No one plays Nielsen better than Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic...

(Photo: Chris Lee)