Press Room

Alan Gilbert conducts Janácek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen”

Alan Gilbert brings his second season as the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic to a thrilling conclusion when he conducts Czech composer Leos Janácek’s magical, comic strip-inspired opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, at Avery Fisher Hall (June 22–25).  The fully staged production reunites Gilbert and the orchestra with designer/director Doug Fitch, with whom they collaborated on last season’s sold-out, critically acclaimed production of György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre – described by the New York Times as “an instant Philharmonic milestone.”  Soon after, Gilbert heads to Paris to record an album of music by Messiaen and Ravel, featuring soprano Renée Fleming, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.  Later in the month, the conductor makes his debut leading Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (July 17 & 18), after which he reunites with the New York Philharmonic for three programs at its summer home, Colorado’s Bravo!-Vail Valley Music Festival (July 22–24).
Anticipation for the Vixen production has no doubt been heightened by memories of the remarkable success of last year’s season-ending staging of Le Grand Macabre.  As the New Yorker reported, “By the final night, Le Grand Macabre had become an improbable sensation, with scalpers in evidence outside.  When Gilbert took his bow, the crowd made a thunderous, hero-welcoming noise.”  A veteran critic for Musical America summed it up this way:
“Surely the presiding force that made the evening so seamless and exciting was Gilbert on the podium.  Pacing, instrumental gesture, textural richness, hair-trigger coordination of every complex element – it was all there, along with a thrilling take-no-prisoners musical exuberance that other performances of Le Grand Macabre I’ve heard never quite duplicated.”
Gilbert began his inaugural season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2009 with a televised concert that featured, among other works, Renée Fleming singing Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi.  Fleming will sing that work, along with Ravel’s Shéhérazade, on the new Decca recording, which will be set down in Paris on July 6–10.
Gilbert has performed frequently in Japan throughout his career, and has deep roots there.  His performances with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra will present a program of Brahms – the First Symphony and “Haydn” Variations – coupled with Berg’s Violin Concerto (“To the memory of an angel”) featuring soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann.  Gilbert and Zimmermann will encore the Berg concerto in October with the New York Philharmonic, where Zimmerman will be the Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence throughout the 2011-12 season.
The second of the New York Philharmonic’s three programs at the Bravo!-Vail Valley Music Festival will feature Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, a work that Gilbert and the orchestra performed to high praise recently in New York City, and on tour in Europe.  Anthony Tommasini described their approach to the work in his review for the New York Times:
“In the first movement, a funeral march, [Gilbert] took a daringly restrained tempo, creating intensity through emphatic execution and heaving, heavy power.  In the wild Scherzo, he conveyed the music’s rustic boisterousness while effectively setting up the strangely pensive passages that periodically interrupt the activity.  He drew glowing string sound from the Philharmonic in the sublime Adagietto, and brought shape and steady flow to the Rondo-Finale, with its long stretches of scrambled counterpoint.”
Mahler’s music will also open the Philharmonic’s 2011-12 season, when Gilbert conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” in three subscription concerts on September 22, 24, and 27.
Alan Gilbert: upcoming engagements
June 22–25
New York, NY
Avery Fisher Hall
New York Philharmonic
Janácek: The Cunning Little Vixen
Fully-staged production directed and designed by Doug Fitch; produced by Edouard Getaz; choreographed by Karole Armitage; created by Giants Are Small
July 17 & 18
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
Brahms: Symphony No 1 & Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn
Berg: Violin Concerto (with Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin)
July 22
Vail, Colorado
New York Philharmonic
Dvorák: Violin Concerto (with Veronika Eberle, violin)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
July 23
Vail, Colorado
New York Philharmonic
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 (with Augustin Hadelich, violin)
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
July 24
Vail, Colorado
New York Philharmonic
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (with Alexander Romanovsky, piano)
Tchaikovsky: Act II of The Nutcracker
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