28 October, 2008

Concert Review: Juilliard Orchestra/Conlon

October 27th, 2008

Juilliard Orchestra/Conlon
Carnegie Hall

Due to the renovation of Alice Tully Hall, this marked a rare venture of this orchestra out of Linclon Center. With the excellent Mahler 1st conducted by Roberto Abbado in mind, I had high hopes for this concert which were not entirely fulfilled.

The first half was the Symphony #5 of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, conducted energetically by James Conlon. It was a pretty easy piece to digest, kind of a post-Berstein type of rhythmically strong piece with occasional percussion smorgasbord.

The first part of the Mahler 5th was excellent. Magnificent brass playing fueled the strongly played funeral march, with little sagging moment. The ensuing Scherzo was a little too straight for me, missing a lilting sense of the macabre others find here. The adagietto was perfectly suited to Conlon’s style. However, the straightforward nature of his drive deprived the finale of a little drama.

This was strongly driven Mahler in a more objective vein, balanced heavily towards the brass and bass, but aside from the Adagietto the strings did not penetrate much even when needed. Level of playing was extremely high, as usual, but the performance here and there felt a little like the efforts of EdW/HKPO, making attention wane.

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