Recent News
12.12.18
Keith Lockhart
KEITH LOCKHART JOINS THE ROSTER
12.10.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Classical Album of the Week: Vienna Boys Choir Sings Strauss
WRTI
12.07.18
JoAnn Falletta, Mariss Jansons, David Alan Miller, Peter Oundjian, Patrick Summers, Alexandre Tharaud, Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider , Mason Bates, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Academy of St Martin in the Fields , Les Violons du Roy , Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nathan Gunn
2019 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
12.07.18
New York Philharmonic String Quartet , Yefim Bronfman
Bronfman, NY Philharmonic Quartet impress at Linton Series
Cincinnati Business Courier
12.06.18
Aaron Diehl
Pianist Diehl in jazz trio plays varied concert in Palm Beach
Palm Beach Daily News
12.06.18
Julian Wachner
This Is the Best ‘Messiah’ in New York
The New York Times
12.04.18
Sir Andrew Davis
ELGAR The Music Makers. The Spirit of England (Davis)
Gramophone
12.03.18
Chanticleer
Chanticleer Christmas concert, 11/30/18
Divamensch
12.01.18
Ward Stare
Twin pianists deliver impeccable style in ‘Perfect Pairs’ concert
Sarasota Herald Tribune
11.27.18
Richard Kaufman
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME
Broadway World

News archive »

RPO concert marked by flutist Gilbert’s graceful virtuosity

01.23.09
Jahja Ling
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

The two attractions of Thursday's Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert seemed poles apart: an intimate Danish concerto and a monumental symphony from Stalin's Soviet Union.

But soloist Rebecca Gilbert's graceful virtuosity in Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto and guest conductor Jahja Ling's powerful, dark-tinged reading of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 made this odd program a rewarding package.

Nielsen's 1926 work is a quiet giant in the tiny group of regularly performed flute concertos. It was written as a character study of its dedicatee, Copenhagen flutist Holger Gilbert-Jespersen, who'd played in Nielsen's new Wind Quintet.

Like that masterpiece, it is essentially a chamber work where the soloist often teams up (or skirmishes) with two or three other players. Think of a dinner party dominated by a particularly lively conversationalist - a slightly hyper guest who gossips with his pals and then breaks into wonderfully flaky monologues.

It was a congenial role for Gilbert, the RPO's principal flutist. She bantered collegially with the bass trombone, clarinet and timpani, then stepped into the limelight for brief mini-cadenzas. Her tone was assertive but never strident, and she moved nimbly through Nielsen's tricky jigsaw rhythms.

Her pastoral piping in the moody Allegretto sounded sprightly. In the finale, she easily overpowered the solo trombone - which, in a characteristic Nielsen touch, blows raspberries at her. She got an enthusiastic ovation.

After intermission, the Shostakovich received a first-rate rendition by the RPO and Ling, the San Diego Symphony's maestro.

It was written in 1937, when the composer was under attack from Soviet bureaucrats for using a taboo "formalist" style. He called his new symphony "the creative reply of a Soviet artist to justified criticism." But today, it's nearly impossible to hear it as anything but a bleak, sardonic portrait of the Stalinist era.

Using a clear, incisive baton style, Ling gave free rein to its melodic richness while maintaining an urgent rhythmic drive. He kept the textures so transparent and lean in the hushed Largo, you could practically hear the Russian wind blowing through it. And he unleashed plenty of raw energy for the finale - a heroic clash of forces that Stalin actually might have enjoyed.