Yefim Bronfman is one of the names that comes up when a pianist asks "What are the highly regarded recordings of Prokofiev's piano works?" Embarrassingly, I had not visited those recordings, but was lucky enough to witness his performance of the composer's piano sonatas at Carnegie's Zankel Hall on November 13. This program included the first half of Prokofiev's contribution to the form, with the other half to be performed at Carnegie on separate occasions next year.
One can't help feeling mildly shocked when one realizes that the Chicago Symphony is now alone among the great American orchestras in employing one of the great senior conductors as Music Director. Michael Tilson Thomas in San Francisco is close to him in age, but nowhere near him in authority. Franz Welser-Möst has something like authority, but not the age, and one might say that his conviction in following his own lights has not quite developed into the kind of authority conductors like Muti and Chailly command.
I caught recently one of the concerts given in Davies Hall by the New York Philharmonic, my old hometown band, as part of our 100th Anniversary Season. It was enough to set me thinking again about the role a good hall plays in shaping the fame of an ensemble. Fifty years of struggle with the Lincoln Center acoustic has clearly left its mark on the New York orchestra's reputation — though I must say not on the quality of its playing — which remains stunningly world class. But one is surprised to find in the sonority a burnished warmth and tonal delicacy similar to that of the Cleveland Orchestra. Understated tonal virtues have seldom been possible at Broadway and 65th Street. At least in the way we think of the orchestra. But they were notable here and speak well of Alan Gilbert's Music Directorship.
Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. Photo Chris Lee.
The New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Davies Hall, San Francisco
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Dvořák – Carnival Overture, Opus 92
Lindberg – Piano Concerto No. 2…