The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music reviews: Critics call New Year’s Eve concerts successes. PBS’ all-American program of Gershwin and Bernstein by the New York Philharmonic gets a rave, and so does the Metropolitan Opera’s “new” Baroque work “The Enchanted Island.”

January 3, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Well, if you weren’t out dining and dancing, or making merry at some party somewhere, the chances are pretty good that you spent New Year’s Eve at home.

And if you did that the chances are pretty good, especially if you are a classical music fan, that earlier in the evening you watched the New Year’s Eve festive all-American concert of music by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein given by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet under the baton of the orchestra’s music director Alan Gilbert (below).

The Ear saw and heard much of the concert that sold-out Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center and also reached millions of viewers via PBS’ award-winning “Live From Lincoln Center” series that is produced by UW-Madison alumnus John Goberman.

I could write up what I most liked about it. (Thibaudet’s sloppy dress and disheveled tuxedo, below, for the “Rhapsody in Blue” finale was really the only thing I didn’t like.) But New York Times critic Alan Kozinn did a pretty good job of that.

So I direct you to his review and his analysis of how the Alan Gilbert Era seems to be putting its own American stamp of New Year’s Eve festivities in the Big Apple. I like the idea of ringing in the New Year by celebrating American music.

That same night, the Metropolitan Opera also celebrated the coming of the new year with the world premiere of its scissors-and-paste baroque opera “The Enchanted Island” with an impressive cast that included superstar tenor Placido Domingo as Neptune (below) as well Danielle de Niese (at bottom), Joyce Di Donato and countertenor David Daniels.

But you will have to wait until the “Met Live in HD” broadcast on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 11:55 CDT at the Eastgate ad Point cinemas in Madison, to enjoy that production.

As we draw closer to that HD broadcast, I will post something with more details about the specially commissioned pastiche Baroque opera that uses music by Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell and Rameau among others and combines characters and plots taken from two Shakespeare plays (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest”).

But in the meantime here is Anthony Tommasini’s informative and entertaining rave review in the New York Times about the world premiere. It sounds like a MUST-HEAR to the Ear, though I doubt it will become a new year’s institution the way the other concerts or events less difficult to produce might.

And here is another positive review:

And here is a third, one that uses the word “triumph”:

We call all judge how just it is and whether we agree with it when we finally get to see and hear this engaging novelty production nearer the end of the month.

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