‘Sounds of Spain’ thrills Bravo! Vail crowd
VAIL — No, Bravo! Vail does not do summer reruns.
Yes, that was conductor Bramwell Tovey appearing again at the music festival, this time on Friday, as the New York Philharmonic opened its residency at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with the program “Sounds of Spain,” with works of Massanet and Falla.
“Tonight, Bramwell Tovey, is there anyone better? He’s the best,” said Vail’s Kathryn Benysh, who’s been attending these concerts since they began 29 years ago. “Even if you’ve never been to a classical-music concert before, you listen to him and think, ‘I’ll go to another.’”
Tovey, who also led The Philadelphia Orchestra in concerts two weeks ago here, was at his usual loquacious best, tying in Brexit, as well as presidential-election jokes to explain the program, while the New York Philharmonic didn’t disappoint during what is usually a social event as well as a concert.
“I started in orchestra in middle school,” said Meagan Manzanares, of Parachute, who was in town with her husband, Danny, to celebrate their second anniversary. “I’ve always wanted to see the New York Philharmonic, but I never figured I’d make it to New York. This is pretty exciting.”
The New York Philharmonic opened with ballet music from “Le Sid,” by Massanet. As is typical for Bravo! Vail, it was a late arriving crowd and Tovey was good natured about the scene, addressing a tardy party in the reserved seating area, saying,” Do come in. No worries.”
Tovey even jokingly asked the Philharmonic’s concertmaster Frank Huang, “Do you think we should play the first piece again?” and then as an aside, “We were talking about Spain.”
With everyone settled, pianist Javier Perianes took to the bench to play “Night in the Gardens of Spain, Symphonic Impressions for Piano and Orchestra.” Not a piano concerto per se, but more of a tone poem, the piece gave Perianes an opportunity to sparkle in his New York Philharmonic debut, a landmark in any soloist’s career.
The audience gave Perianes a standing ovation and he responded with an encore of Falla’s “Fire Dance,” with Tovey generously ceding the spotlight to the pianist.
The miller’s wife
Falla’s “The Three-Cornered Hat” made up the second half of the program. The ballet, upon which the music is based, involves the failed seduction of a miller’s wife by a magistrate, who wears a three-cornered hat, according to custom in southern Spain.
As with all theatrical productions in the genre, naturally mayhem ensues and Tovey’s introduction of the plotlines of the music greatly entertained the audience, which appreciated the performance as well.
Jennifer Johnson Cano did the honors as the mezzo-soprano during “The Three-Cornered Hat,” and also had an opportunity to shine in the concert’s encore, the aria, “Habanero” from Bizet’s opera “Carmen.”
For Benysh, Bravo! Vail and the arrival of the New York Philharmonic is a rite of summer. Having attended the concerts annually, it is a source of amazement of how far the music festival has come.
“I remember when it was small chamber music on a very large stage,” she said. “I think, for most of us who live here, it’s the highlight of the summer. It’s also a highlight for our guests who come in the summer. I’m almost surprised it isn’t more well known outside of Colorado. It’s fantastic.”