NY Classical Review: Alan Gilbert, NY Philharmonic explore New York states of mind

NY Classical Review: Gilbert, Philharmonic explore New York states of mind with Marsalis premiere, Copland and Bolcom

Read the full review at newyorkclassicalreview.com

By George Grella, December 29, 2016

...Composers talk about how getting a second performance is so much harder than the first. It’s a cliché that softens the hard truth—second performances of new pieces are notoriously difficult to engage and that much more valuable.

So William Bolcom, who was in the hall, must have been that much more heartened that the Philharmonic was giving his Trombone Concerto a second go-round, just six months after the Philharmonic’s world premiere performances, which also featured Alessi. 

Familiarity for the listener, and more importantly the musicians, meant a sense of comfort that emphasized the formal and expressive abundance in the music. The trombone’s lines oppose the fractured chorales interspersed through the first movement, and lead the music along. Bolcom’s melodies are characteristically graceful, and in the Trombone Concerto he subtly interweaves fragments of the solo part into the orchestra’s accompaniment. 

The second movement “Blues” came off as more natural, soulful, and songful than at the premiere. It sounded like an aria for trombone, with Alessi’s strong, mellow tone the classic lonely voice amid the crowd of the city. His playing, and that of the Philharmonic, was full of warmth and meaning, and this second experience showed music that is full of charm, strangeness, and beauty. This is a major addition to the concerto literature.