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Critic Anthony Tommasini Is At It Again

  New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini  is one of the best currently writing today, and his reviews are usually  scrupulously fair and balanced . But he has one failing ; he has an unfortunate tendency to  complain  endlessly about the supposedly "stodgy" programming of America's oldest orchestra, the New York Philharmonic , the same as many other classical music critics .

   He has given its current music director Alan Gilbert credit for beig a committed advocate of cntemporary composers  and  trying to  bring fresh air into this supposedly staid an dconservative orchestra .  But there's just one problem with this ;  it has in fact been  one of the most adventurous orchestras in the world in terms of programming for decades before Gilbert .

   His latest review of a concert by the Juilliard orchestra  conducted by Gilbert, who heads the conducting program at the famed conservatory is typical .  He accuses the orchestra of "playing it safe ".  Unbelievable . This is an orchestra which puts most of the world's other orchestra to shame in  its consistently adventurous programming, and Gilbert's programming is not really radically innovative there at all . He is merely contuing this  admirable trend .

   How many orchestras play the music of Arnold Schoenberg, (1874 - 1951) , the great though still high;ly controversial Austrian composer who is considerede box office poison by so many orchestras ?  Not many . But  the renowned pianist Emanuel Ax will be playing his piano concerto with the orchestra next season . It's not such a terrible work at all if you give it a chance . In fact, it's a genuine masterpiece .

   There will also be more new music than most other orchestras play next season, including a number of world premieres by leading contemporary composers , and  some interesting works from the past which are rarely encountered in the concert hall .

   Compare this to your average orchestra .  Any of these usually offer a steady stream of the same old familiar warhorses by Beethoven,Brahms Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov , Ravel , Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Rimsky-Korsakov , etc.  Of course , these are deservedly popular works . But the management of these orchestras are terrified of audiences voting with their feet and  are extremely reluctant to allow conductors, whether music directors or guests, to program anything out of the ordinary , because they are saddled with  extremely conservative audiences who are terrified  of that awful "modern" music .  You can't blame the management, given this  deplorable situation .

   Yes, the New York Philharmonic still plays those beloved warhorses . But it's irritatingly disingenuous the way critics are always using  this fact to accuse the New York Philharmonic of "stodginess", despite its  consistent championship of new music .  You can get an idea of what the orchestra will e offering next seasn at its website, newyorkphil.org .

Posted: Mar 07 2012, 10:45 PM by the horn | with no comments
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