The Big Apple comes to Vail
Welcome to the High Country, David Robertson. “I’m an absolute mountain nut,” he said. “Give me a six-pole tent and a backpack and I’ll try and climb the Rockies. So, I’m really looking forward to it. Unfortunately the way it works out this time, it’s kind of a reconnaissance mission. I won’t have a lot of time. But, believe me, reconnaissance is important because afterwards you can decide to take advantage of the places to the fullest.”Robertson won’t be climbing the Rockies this time around because he’ll be leading the New York Philharmonic Friday at 6 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater as New York opens its second year of residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.The Philharmonic helped set Bravo! attendance records last summer, and this year should be the same. This is a subtle way of saying get there early, especially if you have lawn seating.
Those who will be there will get an evening of Mendelssohn, Debussy, Copland and Strauss. Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides Overture” and Debussy’s “Nuages” and “Fetes” open the program.Then, we get to Copland’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. With apologies for editorializing, this festival needs more Copland. As Gershwin is to Central Park in New York City, Copland is to the American West. The Ford Amphitheater is the perfect venue for one of America’s best composers of the 20th Century.There should be more of the likes of “Appalachian Spring,” “Billy the Kid,” “Danzon Cubano,” “Fanfare to the Common Man,” “Lincoln Portrait,” “Our Town,” “Rodeo,” “The Red Pony” and his three symphonies. Maybe, in the years to come?Copland’s Piano Concerto is a dandy, and Friday’s audience gets the great treat of hearing Garrick Ohlsson on the bench. The San Franciscan is a Bravo! veteran, having performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 brilliantly with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 2000.”We’ve worked a number of times before, and he’s a really great musician and a very sweet guy, and I think that just being a really easy, deep down guy comes through in his playing,” Robertson said. “You can really hear it. He’s also an amazing musician. He has technique to burn. He’s just so gifted on the instrument, yet it’s all about the music.”
The evening ends with Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Everybody knows the beginning of the piece. It’s the opening theme of the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” “Everyone’s so amazed that the opening from the 2001 and numerous TV commercials has another 25 minutes tacked onto it,” Robertson joked.Strauss’ work follows Friedrich Nietzsche’s novel “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” in which a man comes down from a mountain to interact with many different forms of humanity.”The music is exploring in musical terms all sorts of these different relationships between those who are convalescent and those full of all sorts of energy or dancing and very earthy or very refined and thoughtful scientists or people who are very involved in religion or in passion,” Robertson said. “All of these things are connected up into the work. So, it really does feel like a catalogue of many of the experiences we go through.”Bramwell Tovey will conduct Sunday and Wednesday, July 28, and Charles Dutoit will lead the Philharmonic Thursday, July 29, and Friday, July 30. For more information, call 877-812-5700 or visit http://www.vailmusicfestival.org
New York PhilharmonicFriday, July 23, 6 p.m.Ford Amphitheater