Friday, July 26, 2013

BRAMWELL CONDUCTS HOLST

Gil Shaham awaits Maestro Tovey's Downbeat
The orchestral series presented by the Bravo Vail music festival concluded tonight on a high note, with an absolutely fantastic concert by the NY Phil and Bramwell Tovey conducting.

The concert opened with John Adams' piece A Short Ride in a Fast Machine,  a piece we have heard several times performed live. It's more than 25 years old now, but I remember when it was a new, fresh and exciting piece for orchestra. Tovey gave a nice reading tonight, and props to the percussionist who quickly recovered when the top of his mallet fell off while playing the incessant, metronome-like wood block part in the piece.

This was followed up with the incredible Gil Shaham, whom we heard two years ago at Vail, and whom we saw perform the Tchaikovsky Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl only two weeks before we moved to Colorado (review here). He must be one of the happiest people on the planet, he is ALWAYS smiling, and who can blame him, the venue and crowd were perfect tonight! He played beautifully as always, with a rich and luscious tone, particularly in the low register.

But the real highlight of the evening was the near-centenary performance of Holst's The Planets, one of the truly great orchestral showpieces, and one of the pieces that made me want to be a composer. No matter how many times I hear it, I hear new things in it, and tonight was no exception. Seeing it live really made me notice how brilliant the writing for harp and timpani are. And although "Mars, the Bringer of War" gets most of the attention, all of the movements are brilliant in their own way.

This was a great way to finish our season in Vail before returning home for my step-mother's funeral. Bram Tovey even re-tweeted my photo from the concert. I just hope he doesn't read all of my reviews, including last night's!
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