Presenting: the brass family! Philadelphia Orchestra musician Matt Vaughn will guide the audience through this regal instrument family.
This subscription package includes performances that feature chorus and therefore Conductor’s Circle seating is not available for one or more event. For your convenience we will seat you in Orchestra Tier, Tier 1, or the Orchestra at no additional price for these performances.
Composer, conductor, teacher, writer, thinker—John Adams is an American musical icon. His work—exciting and beautiful—unflinchingly confronts, defines, and embraces contemporary culture. He wrote Scheherazade.2 for the stellar violinist Leila Josefowicz, inspired by an art exhibit about The Tales of the Arabian Nights and Rimsky-Korsakov's original. Josefowicz's solo violin plays the role of a modern Scheherazade. Adams's musical exploration of the present-day struggle of women in a patriarchal society reverses the roles, putting the woman in a position of strength.
Mahler summons a large orchestra to explore the full range of human emotions in his Fifth Symphony, a work that Yannick returns to with the Philadelphians for the first time in 9 years. Schubert himself struggled to play the Wanderer Fantasy. More than just a technical challenge, the piece is an ingenious set of variations on the composer's song “Der Wanderer,” transformed by Liszt into a rarely heard piano concerto. The four movements are played without a break, building intensity until the mesmerizing finale.
This work of towering musicality and deep spirituality is a fitting summation of J.S. Bach's epochal career; he finished it the year before he died. It's “above and beyond every piece of music that's been created for liturgical purposes,” says Yannick Nézet-Séguin. A setting of the complete Latin Mass, it demands superlatives, at the same time rendering them inadequate.
The Orchestra returns to the Academy of Music for its first subscription concerts since moving to Verizon Hall in 2001. It's a fitting venue for Rachmaninoff's nostalgic, romantic Symphony No. 3, premiered by the composer's cherished Philadelphians in 1936 on that very same stage, with Leopold Stokowski conducting. The gentle, lone piano chords that open the Fourth Concerto were a radical construct when Beethoven premiered the wide-ranging and emotional work in 1808. Yefim Bronfman says he's always been drawn to its tenderness.
Mendelssohn wrote his Second Piano Concerto right after he got married and there's plenty of joy expressed, especially in the final movement, which the composer himself described as “piano fireworks.” He was the soloist at the premiere in 1837. The young French pianist Lise de la Salle (“For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe…” –The Washington Post) is a riveting choice to interpret this concerto. Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique is a tour de force of compositional color, a breakthrough that set the stage for his most assured writing.
This American classic is the story of a man trying to rescue a woman from her distressing life. To help create his masterpiece, George Gershwin immersed himself in African-American life and culture on Charleston's Catfish Row, honoring the area's folk traditions with timeless melodies. Pioneering conductor Marin Alsop leads our performances of this tale of oppression, struggle, hope, and love. The cast includes soprano Angel Blue and celebrated baritone Lester Lynch.
Stéphane Denève's final subscription concerts as the Orchestra's principal guest conductor culminate with Strauss's epic Ein Heldenleben—literally, A Hero's Life—an extravagant, all-encompassing, semi-autobiographical tone poem that quotes from his own prodigious masterpieces. Anna Clyne's imaginative This Midnight Hour, highlighting the power of the lower strings, evokes the journey of a mysterious woman “stripped bare, running mad through the night.” Liszt's heady Second Piano Concerto is gorgeous and technically challenging.
Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto may be overshadowed by his more famous First, but it's the piece that earned Lukas Geniušas top honors at the Tchaikovsky Competition. Balanchine, too, recognized its consummate beauty, choosing it as the score for his tribute to classical Russian ballet. The government decided what was art when Shostakovich wrote his vehement and complicated Fifth Symphony under an oppressive Soviet regime (and threat of the Gulag).
Brahms wrote just two piano concertos. He was 25 when he completed his youthful and vigorous First Concerto. Two decades later he composed his tremendous Second; Yannick compares the final, fourth movement to playing in heaven, surrounded by angels. The fiery Yuja Wang, Curtis Institute of Music graduate and Philadelphia favorite, returns to her second home for four performances, bringing her technical virtuosity and thoughtful depth of music-making to these two corresponding and harmonious works. Hear them both, paired with Sibelius's Symphony No. 3, a masterpiece of the Finnish national hero.
Trumpet player Anthony Prisk at North Bowl. Photo by Jeff Fusco.