Ravel, Weill and Gershwin Bring a New Audience to the Philharmonic


We were surprised and delighted to see a full house at Avery Fisher last night that included a healthy mix of ages; I can only assume this is because of the program which was guaranteed to appeal to all.  After its recent renovation, the hall looks beautiful and sounds somewhat better, although it will never be one of my favorites. Still, a very good orchestra has its home there.

inside avery fisher(Source: flickr.com)

Jeffrey Kahane conducted and played the Ravel Piano Concerto in G major, a piece heavily influenced by American jazz, and written, in fact, after Gershwin took Ravel to Harlem. Kahane is no mean pianist although I do think something is lost when the pianist also conducts these difficult pieces.

concert-review-against-the-gathering-darkness-L-9N9c8t(Source: Chris Lee)

We really came for the Kurt Weill Symphony No. 2 which hasn’t been played in this country, said Kahane, since Bruno Walter premiered it at Carnegie Hall in 1934. It is a somewhat dark work, with more than a few references to Weill’s enormously successful Three Penny Opera, but then he had just left Berlin upon hearing he would soon be arrested by the Gestapo.

weill and breccht(Source: usc.edu) Weill and Brecht

He completed the work in Paris but left soon after for the United States, where he composed wonderful musical theater works including Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady in the Dark and One Touch of Venus. These scores have a new American sound in honor of the country he joyously embraced but remain at their heart, quintessentially Weill.

one touch of venus(Source: bakerhotel.us) One Touch of Venus with Mary Martin

The program ended with Gershwin’s Concerto in F, a great work redolent with jazz and sounding, according to Rory, more than a little like Rachmaninoff. I had heard this piece played at the Hollywood Bowl by Gershwin’s friend, Oscar Levant, who was then viewed as the foremost living interpreter of Gershwin’s piano works.

gershwin-piano(Source: lcweb2.loc.gov)

Last night, it was wildly applauded by the audience; clearly that was what had brought them there.

We sat in the orchestra, row Y (about midway), extreme right and saw and heard very well. These $25 seats we bought courtesy of Tdf.org, for half of the usual price. If you haven’t yet registered for Tdf (no charge and no obligation), you are missing a lot–concerts, opera, theater, jazz, rock, children’s shows and Off-Off Broadway for $9/ticket. You live in New York–doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of all it offers?

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