Reviewing the New York Phil’s Vail season
Editor’s note: This is part I of two parts on the New York Philharmonic’s residency at Bravo! Vail
VAIL — So was that enough music?
The New York Philharmonic put on six concerts in nine days at Bravo! Vail at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. We transported ourselves geographically from the Americas to Russia and chronologically from the 18th century to the 21st. Here are some postcard images of the New York Philharmonic’s time in Vail.
Bramwell Unravels Elgar’s Enigma
John Kimura Parker took to the stage for the Grieg Piano Concerto. One of many fun things about the festival is getting familiar with orchestras and soloists. Having attended this festival for 10-plus years, one develops personal relationships with the aforementioned.
“Hey, Bramwell, good to see you again,” as the conductor takes the stage
“Hey, Jackie’s here again.”
Of course, I haven’t met Bramwell Tovey, who is a regular conductor with the New Philharmonic. I have interviewed Parker. Nonetheless, I feel like I know them.
We’ve heard sweeping Romantic Era piano concerti this year and in previous seasons. I don’t recall seeing a pianist hopping off the bench before. However, if you play like Parker does, then feel free to do whatever you want.
Meanwhile, those who attended on the lawn for this concert deserved some form of commendation for sitting through the rain and chill.
The Weilersteins & Tchaikovsky
Confession time. When I attend a Bravo! Vail, even at 43, I feel like I lower the average age of an audience. Yes, I look young, and so people around me ask me if I like classical music, or, my favorite this season, “Are you related to a member of the orchestra?” (I was really tempted to say, “Yes, Alan Gilbert’s my dad.” Gilbert is married and has three kids, so I don’t think I’d fit in.)
Since everyone thinks I’m a 20-something, I usually don’t make much of what another person looks like age-wise. And then came Joshua Weilerstein on stage to conduct the New York Philharmonic.
I found myself thinking, “How old is this kid?” Bad, Freud. Weilerstein is 27 and proved himself more than capable, not that he needed my approval. Yes, it was very fun to see him conduct, while his sister Alisa did the honors on the cello with Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme.
What I really appreciated, though, was his approach, in general, to Tchaikovsky. One can take a hammer to the composer’s work and no one will notice. Weilerstein, both of them, but I’m really talking about Joshua, took a nuanced approach to the composer’s Sixth Symphony. It was grandiose where appropriate and thoughtful in the final movement.
Good job, kid.
(Freud, stop calling him kid.)
Tovey and McDermott
I’m a piano nut. I took piano lessons as a kid. I got as far as Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” I marvel at the festival’s soloists’ abilities. We’ve mentioned Parker. I have a serious man-crush on Garrick Ohlsson for many years for his work. His rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Third was astonishing.
And then there was Anne-Marie McDermott at this concert, playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody of a Theme of Paganini. Yes, she is the artistic director of the festival, and she does all the things an artistic director should.
She is a pianist first and the Rach-Pag, as it was called in the program, was a tour de force.
Almost as memorable was Tovey in this concert, taking a selfie of himself and the New York Philharmonic during the encore, “The Redetzky March.” For some reason, Tovey didn’t post said photo on his Twitter account, but his daughter Jessica was doing her part.
“Listened to my Dad on live radio today from Vail, Colorado,” she tweeted. “Did he really just reference the Kardashians??? @BramwellTovey Hip as always.”
Staff writer Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
The ski racer turned hotelier who was close to President Ford embodied the soul of Vail for nearly 60 years.