New York Philharmonic returns for 14th annual Bravo! Vail summer residency
New York Philharmonic at Bravo! Vail
All concerts take place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. View the full repertoire for each concert and purchase tickets at bravovail.org.
• 6 p.m. Friday, July 22 — “Sounds of Spain,” with Bramwell Tovey, conductor; Javier Perianes, piano; and Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano
• 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23 — “Chaplin’s ‘City Lights,’” with Timothy Brock, conductor
• 6 p.m. Sunday, July 24 — “Bronfman Plays Liszt,” with Juraj Valcuha, conductor; and Yefim Bronfman, piano
• 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 — “Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben,” with Alan Gilbert, conductor; and Joseph Alessi, trombone
• 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28 — “Josefowicz & Beethoven’s Eroica,” with Alan Gilbert, conductor; Dierdre Baker, special guest conductor; and Leila Josefowicz, violin
• 6 p.m. Friday, July 29 — “The Voice of Wagner,” with Alan Gilbert, conductor; Heidi Melton, soprano; and Eric Owens, bass-baritone
The New York Philharmonic, under the leadership of music director Alan Gilbert, returns to Bravo! Vail for its 14th annual summer residency, presenting a lineup that ranges from lighthearted dance fare and timeless film scores to operatic duets and symphonic masterworks.
Kicking off its residency Friday the orchestra, led by guest conductor Bramwell Tovey, presents a Spanish-themed program featuring two pieces by Manuel de Falla: the festive “The Three-Cornered Hat,” with mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, and the introspective and impressionistic “Nights in the Garden of Spain,” with pianist Javier Perianes. The orchestra also performs the popular ballet suite from Jules Massenet’s opera “Le Cid.”
For its second program, on Saturday, the Philharmonic presents a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 silent film “City Lights,” accompanied by a live performance of Chaplin’s score — the first one he composed — which conductor and silent-film expert Timothy Brock digitally restored on commission from the Chaplin estate.
The Philharmonic’s recent performances of “City Lights” have been hailed as a “revelation” (The New York Times) and a “crowning success” (Berkshire Fine Arts). Watching “City Lights live,” raved Vogue, “offers a pleasure that you can’t get at home, namely, experiencing it as it was intended: on a big screen, amid the laughter of fellow audience members, with Chaplin’s own spritely, sentimental score played by a live orchestra — in this case, a mighty fine one.”
On Sunday, pianist Yefim Bronfman, who served as the orchestra’s 2013-14 Mary and James G. Wallach artist-in-residence, joins the orchestra and guest conductor Juraj Valcuha for Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The Philharmonic’s Sunday program also includes Zoltan Kodaly’s alluring “Dances of Galanta,” Antonin Dvorak’s spirited tone poem “The Water Goblin” and Mourice Ravel’s whirling and swirling “La Valse.”
For its fourth program, on Wednesday, Gilbert leads the orchestra in Richard Strauss’s “Ein Heldenleben,” which evokes the struggles and conquests of a hero (most likely Strauss himself) who battles, and ultimately vanquishes, his enemies. Also on the program is William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto, which the orchestra commissioned and premiered in June. Bolcom wrote the concerto for principal trombone Joseph Alessi, who performs the work in Vail and whom Bolcom has praised as “a consummate musician with perfect intonation, wide stylistic sense, lyrical phrasing and dazzling technique.”
The concert on Thursday begins with guest conductor Deirdre Baker leading the orchestra in Johann Strauss Sr.’s invigorating, folk tune-infused “Radetzky March.” Gilbert then leads the orchestra in Prokofiev’s lyrical Violin Concerto No. 1, performed by violinist Leila Josefowicz, winner of a 1994 Avery Fisher Career Grant and a 2008 MacArthur “Genius” Grant.
The program concludes with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Conceived as a passionate paean to the ideals of democracy and political freedom, this groundbreaking piece — which was inspired by Napoleon but then dedicated “to the memory of a great man” after Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French — was unprecedented in its length and also its scope, both musically and emotionally.
Closing out its residency, on Friday, July 29, Gilbert leads the Philharmonic in works from two influential operas by Richard Wagner: the Prelude and Liebestod from “Tristan und Isolde,” featuring soprano Heidi Melton, followed with “Ride of the Valkyries” — one of the most thrilling and recognizable pieces of music ever written — and the Final Scene from Act III of “Die Walkure.”
“Die Walkure” is part of the composer’s four-opera magnum opus “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” commonly referred to as the Ring Cycle. Written over the course of 26 years, the Ring immerses listeners in some of the most dramatic music making and storytelling in history, drawing inspiration from Norse mythology and its tale of an all-powerful magic ring. The performance of the Final Scene of Act III of “Die Walkure” features soprano Heidi Melton and bass-baritone Eric Owens, the Philharmonic’s 2015-’16 artist-in-residence.