The Ice Cream Man

Alan Gilbert shows a certain comedic flair in promoting the New York Philharmonic’s forthcoming performances of György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (May 27-29). More videos are available on the Breughelland channel.

Clarinet Gets Acrobatic Workout

In his brilliant Clarinet Concerto, Magnus Lindberg exploits myriad facets of what the instrument can do, from playing soaring melodic lines to making almost rude-sounding noises. He composed the work in 2002 for the remarkable clarinetist Kari Kriikku, who performed its United States premiere with the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, on Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Kriikku, a physically flamboyant player of Olympian virtuosity, tackled with aplomb the athletic demands of this rewarding and rigorously constructed single-movement work, whose five sections have allusions to Brahms, Debussy and jazz. Making his debut with the Philharmonic on Saturday, Mr. Kriikku played with a glowing tone and sensual spontaneity in the rhapsodic interludes. He offered a breathtaking cadenza, performing acrobatic feats in the instrument’s highest range.

While some contemporary composers view the symphony orchestra as archaic, Mr. Lindberg (the Philharmonic’s current composer in residence) has called it “his favorite instrument” and “the perfect typewriter where you have all the keys.” In this concerto he gives the orchestra a workout that results in dense, shimmering soundscapes, whose kaleidoscopic colors were aptly illuminated by Mr. Gilbert.

Read the full review in The New York Times here.

New York Philharmonic Press Conference Live on Twitter

Tune in at Noon as we tweet live from our press conference as Alan Gilbert & special guests announce the 2010/11 season!

Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic begin 2010/11 with a world premiere by Wynton Marsalis, performed with the JALC orchestra.

Director/Designer Doug Fitch is back to stage Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.” He wants to create a “meta-forest” in Avery Fisher Hall.

Composer-In-Residence Magnus Lindberg returns in 10-11; Gilbert conducts his groundbreaking Kraft, with instruments made from car parts!

Anne-Sophie Mutter is the NYP’s new Artist-In-Residence. She’ll perform premieres with Gilbert and MTT; chamber music, a recital and more.

Hungarian Echoes: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts three weeks of Bartok, Haydn & Ligeti. Guests include Aimard, Mustonen & Michelle DeYoung…

Alan Gilbert and the Phil will play the Brahms triple with Shaham, Ax, and Ma for the @CarnegieHall 120th Anniversary!

Read more in The New York Times here.

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Leonard Bernstein on the Mystery Behind the Music

Imagine this: you drop onto the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, switch on the TV and see a dapper young man with a baton standing before an orchestra and demonstrating the patterns conductors use to lead music in different meters — two, three, four and five beats to the bar. He directs his players in a few examples, bits of Beethoven’s Ninth and Schubert’s Eighth Symphonies, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” Waldteufel’s “Skater’s Waltz.” Then he ups the ante, showing how these simple gestures, with subtle modification, are used to coax a fluid, lyrical performance; a playful reading; or an urgently dramatic interpretation from an orchestra.

For 48 minutes, this young conductor — Leonard Bernstein, caught on film in 1955 — brings you into the musician’s world, talking about how tempo, dynamics and phrasing express a conductor’s feelings and beliefs about a piece, and how that expressivity affects a listener’s perception of the music. And he offers you a glimpse of his preparation for a performance.

“Take this opening bar of the Brahms First Symphony,” he says, and then conducts it. “There are 55 notes in it, being played by 100 instruments, and the conductor has to know them all, or he has no right to ascend the podium in the first place. And this is only one bar out of 1,260 in this symphony.”

Even with hundreds of cable channels to choose from today, the likelihood of running into a show like this is slim.

Read the full article in The New York Times here.

Podcast: Alan Gilbert/Nico Muhly/Dalston Songs/Julia Jones

Tom Service talks to two New Yorkers – conductor Alan Gilbert in his first season with the New York Philharmonic, and young composer Nico Muhly. Stories are turned into music in Helen Chadwick’s Dalston Songs, and Tom meets British-born conductor Julia Jones ahead of her debut at the Royal Opers House.

Listen now (7 days to listen).