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Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting Yuja Wang. Photo by Chris Lee.On the evening of Wednesday, October 6th, I had the privilege of attending the fabulous Opening Night Gala performance at Carnegie Hall of the superb Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of the inimitable Yannick Nézet-Séguin, inaugurating a complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven this season.
After a brief introduction by Robert F. Smith—the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall—and Clive Gillinson—the Executive and Artistic Director—the program started excitingly with a work recently commissioned by the ensemble, the splendid Seven O’Clock Shout by Valerie Coleman. The composer rose from the audience for the ensuing applause.
The incomparable soloist, Yuja Wang—who looked sensational in a black mini-dress—then appeared for a dazzling account of the mesmeric Piano Concerto No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich—one of the finest in the repertory—with a sparkling, frequently propulsive opening movement, played here with exceptional clarity of expression. The lovely Andante was somber but enchanting followed by an exuberant finale. Wang received a floral bouquet before leaving the stage.
The excitement continued with a thrilling rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s magical Overture to Candide.That preceded another recent commission, the brilliantly orchestratedJeder Baum spricht by Iman Habibi—who was also in attendance—which Nézet-Séguin cited in a plea for multiculturalism in the arts.
The concert ended magnificently—and without a break—with an exultant version of Ludwig van Beethoven’s immortal Fifth Symphony, with a an intensely dramatic first movement and achieving sheer majesty in the succeeding Andante. The stirring scherzoled into the glorious concluding movement, eliciting vigorous applause and presaging a promising new season at this illustrious venue.
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