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February 2022

Weekend Preview: Vienna Philharmonic Returns to Carnegie Hall

Vienna Philharmonic Carnegie Hall, March 2019It's been three years since the vaunted Vienna Philharmonic has been to NYC - in pre-COVID times, they came here each year - but they'll be back this weekend with three concerts at Carnegie Hall. Dodging certain protests with the last-minute cancellation of Russian conductor Valery Gergiev - a known ally of Russian President/Dictator/Asshole Vladimir Putin - the concerts will instead be led by Met Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in between rehearsals of Don Carlos at the Met.

Not the best timing with current events, but there will be a heavy-Russian theme to the three programs. Friday's concert - which will be live streamed by WQXR - features Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 and 2nd Piano Concerto (to be performed by Berlin-based pianist Seong-Jin Cho after Dennis Matsuev - another Putin partisan - also cancelled.) Saturday night's concert brings Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade alongside music by French Romantics Debussy and Ravel. And Sunday's matinée will offer Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Tchiakovsky's 6th Symphony. Is it possible to separate art from real life? We'll see.

Tickets for all three concerts are available at the box office and online

Weekend Preview: 2/11-2/13

Friday, 2/11

Ethan Iverson at Roulette, 8pm

Ever since leaving The Bad Plus, the rock-jazz trio he co-founded in 2000, pianist Ethan Iverson has flourished as a solo artist while also branching out into composition.  This double bill features Iverson wearing both of his hats: on the first half, The New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra performs Ritornello, Sinfonias, and Cadenzas: a 45 minute through-composed work premiered in Italy last summer. Then, Iverson plays selections from his just-released album Every Note is True (Blue Note) with an all-star trio featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits.

New York Philharmonic with Yuja Wang at Alice Tully Hall, 8pm

The always captivating (and occasionally cringe-inducing) pianist Yuja Wang returns to the Phil to perform Franz Liszt’s explosive First Piano Concerto, part of an Eastern European program led by the young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša that also includes Zoltan Kodály’s colorful Concerto for Orchestra and Bohuslav Martinů’s richly textured First Symphony (Repeats on Saturday).

Saturday, 2/12

Tristan Perich, Lesley Flanigan and Christopher Tignor at National Sawdust, 7:30pm

Very excited to see these three electroacoustic mavens, who haven't performed in NYC in more than two years. Tristan continues his exploration of 1-bit music with "Tone Patterns," (see above) featuring cascading harmonies of 1-bit tones generated by his own custom-built hardware. Lesley will perform "Subtonalities," featuring two sine-wave oscillators generating low-frequency tones that she'll combine with pitches from her own voice. And Christopher debuts new music for violin and percussion, along with his custom-built interactive live processing platform.

Flying Lotus at Carnegie Hall, 8pm

Part of Carnegie's ongoing (and somewhat curious) Afrofuturism festival, Grammy Award–winning producer, composer, and rapper Flying Lotus takes over the Stern Auditorium with a performance that promises "a transportive electroacoustic musical blend in Carnegie Hall’s unrivaled acoustics." Should be...different.

Sunday 2/13

No live music, but I (like most of America) will be watching the Super Bowl Halftime Show, which features hip hop for the very first time. Not exactly cutting edge - nothing the NFL does is - the show features a billionaire (Dr. Dre), a beer salesman (Snoop Dogg), a shill for the Home Shopping Network (Mary J. Blige), and a white kid from Detroit (Eminem). Fortunately, someone had the presence of mind to include the brilliant lyricist Kendrick Lamar, though I doubt he'll get as much airtime as his elders. Should start around 8pm.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

by Steven Pisano

Vasily Petrenko, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Carnegie Hall(All photos by Steven Pisano)

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ended its most recent tour of the U.S. with a visit to Carnegie Hall on Monday night. Appropriately enough, it was an all-British program: Britten, Elgar, and Holst. I half-expected to see Union Jacks hanging from the balconies and tea carts being rolled up and down the aisles. Crumpets, anyone?

But, not all was British. The RPO's newly appointed Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, was on the podium, having succeeded Charles Dutoit who resigned in 2018 after charges of sexual misconduct. Born and raised in Russia, the 45-year-old Petrenko - whose wife Evgenia is also a conductor - became a British citizen in 2015. He opened the evening by speaking warmly to the audience from the stage, a far cry from how most top conductors walk onstage, bow to the welcoming applause, then abruptly turn their backs. (There are, of course, notable exceptions, including Michael Tilson Thomas and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.)

Britten’s 1945 opera Peter Grimes is a dark and moody work about a fisherman suspected of murder. The orchestra played the “Four Sea Interludes” from the opera: “Dawn,” “Sunday Morning,” “Moonlight,” and “Storm.” The evocative music showcased the RPO's many strengths, particularly its string section.

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