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Alan Gilbert guest conducts Munich Philharmonic (Oct 31–Nov 3) & NDR Symphony (Nov 7–10)

It was in 2011 that Alan Gilbert made his debut with the Munich Philharmonic, impressing the Süddeutsche Zeitung with his “spirit, joy in making music, communication, [and] energy.” This fall, the conductor returns to direct the august orchestra in Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, with Grammy Award-winning pianist Yefim Bronfman (Oct 31; Nov 2 & 3), before resuming his leadership of the NDR Symphony, where he has served as Principal Guest Conductor since 2004. At the orchestra’s Hamburg home (Nov 7 & 10) and in Kiel (Nov 8), Gilbert and the NDR Symphony reunite for Dvorák’s Violin Concerto, with Frank Peter Zimmermann as soloist, coupled with The Ring Journey, the conductor’s own orchestral arrangement (after Erich Leinsdorf) of music from Wagner’s epic “Ring” cycle.
Gilbert eagerly anticipates his return to the Munich Philharmonic, and especially the opportunity to collaborate on Bruckner, with whose music the orchestra boasts a long and illustrious history. He explains:
“I love conducting in Munich! There’s something so focused about the way the audience treats the whole musical experience. It’s a special place to perform, and to be able to do Bruckner with the Munich Philharmonic—an orchestra that has done so many wonderful Bruckner performances with, among others, Mehta, Celibidache, and Levine—is something I’m looking forward to enormously. This is the second time I’m conducting the orchestra. Our first time together had such a special chemistry that it’s a real shame it has taken so long to have the chance to perform together again.”
The New York Times finds Gilbert’s own accounts of Bruckner’s symphonies consistently involving and insightful,” and reports that in a rendition of the Seventh at Carnegie Hall this week, “Mr. Gilbert, who conducted the hourlong symphony from memory, shaped a performance that combined deep humanity, especially in the Adagio, with high charges of testosterone in the Scherzo and Finale.” As for the conductor’s close rapport with Yefim Bronfman, the two are currently traversing Beethoven’s complete piano concertos together at the New York Philharmonic, where the powerhouse pianist serves as this season’s Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence.
At Gilbert’s most recent engagement with the NDR Symphony last winter, his soloist – as in the upcoming November concerts – was violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman. The Hamburger Abendblatt counseled, “One thing is for sure: if you miss Zimmermann, you have only yourself to blame,” and praised the “momentum and enthusiasm, perfection and beauty of sound” that the conductor inspired. Rounding out Gilbert’s NDR Symphony program is his Ring Journey, which he recently undertook at the New York Philharmonic, where he has just launched his fifth season as Music Director. The New York Times applauded the arrangement’s “palpable, affecting warmth,” and noted that “the ovation, rightly, was loud and long.”
Gilbert looks forward to returning to Germany in the New Year, for three appearances at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic (Jan 30–Feb 1), following his triumphant engagement with the preeminent ensemble last month. The Berliner Morgenpost admired the “benevolent maturity” of Gilbert’s Lutoslawski, while the Berliner Zeitung marveled at the way his “precise interpretation drew impressive connections between individual moments and the work as a whole, creating a rendition that was both effective in the moment and lingered on.” As a result, “the audience, thrilled by the performance, continued to applaud the conductor even as the musicians had already begun to pack up their instruments backstage.
For his upcoming return to the orchestra, Gilbert pairs Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, featuring Grammy Award-winning Norwegian cellist Truls Mork, with Kraft (1983-85), a trailblazing, site-specific work by Magnus Lindberg. As the composer recalls, Kraft was in part inspired by the new-music scene in Berlin, then “hopping with post-punk and non-tonal sound,” and in 2010 it was Gilbert who gave the work its New York premiere, when the New York Times pronounced it “a brilliant, serious-minded contemporary work.” The conductor considers Kraft “one of Magnus Lindberg’s most important and influential works,” and his recent reprise of the piece at Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden – soon to be available for streaming, free of charge, in’s “I New York Philharmonic” festival (Oct 31–Nov 3) – prompted New York magazine to declare: “Gilbert’s unflashy radicalism is re-creating the Philharmonic.”
A list of the conductor’s upcoming guest-conducting engagements follows, and more information may be found at his website:
Alan Gilbert: guest-conducting engagements in Germany
Oct 31; Nov 2 & 3
Munich Philharmonic
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4
Nov 7 & 10
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Symphony
Dvorák: Violin Concerto (with Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin)
Wagner/arr. Alan Gilbert, after Erich Leinsdorf: A Ring Journey
Nov 8
Kiel, Germany
NDR Symphony
Dvorák: Violin Concerto (with Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin)
Wagner/arr. Alan Gilbert, after Erich Leinsdorf: A Ring Journey
Jan 30–Feb 1
Berlin, Germany
Berlin Philharmonic
Dvorák: Cello Concerto (with Truls Mork, cello)
Magnus Lindberg: Kraft
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© 21C Media Group, October 2013


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