After being closed for 572 days due to the pandemic, Carnegie Corridor, the nation’s pre-eminent live performance area, opened its season on Wednesday. It took solely a easy greeting from the stage — “welcome again,” spoken by Clive Gillinson, the corridor’s government and inventive director — for the viewers to burst into sustained cheers.
On paper, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s program — together with favorites like Bernstein’s joyous overture to “Candide” and staples like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — appeared tilted towards a gap night time’s conventional objective as a crowd-pleasing fund-raising gala. But each the selection of works and the colourful music-making went deeper into questions of classical music’s relevance and renewal than I had anticipated.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the orchestra’s music director, started by main a efficiency of Valerie Coleman’s “Seven O’Clock Shout,” a piece that the Philadelphians premiered on-line in Might. This five-minute rating has develop into the orchestra’s unofficial anthem for this troublesome interval. Impressed by Boccaccio and the 7 p.m. cheers for frontline employees in the course of the pandemic, the piece gives a hard-won imaginative and prescient of a extra lovely place.
It opens with cautious trumpet fanfares that activate tremulous strings. The music goes by way of passages of jittery riffs, burnished string chords, elegiac quietude and eruptive restlessness — full with precise shouts and claps from the gamers. The piece at occasions has a Copland-esque glow, however Coleman provides tart harmonic tweaks and assertive syncopations that regularly shock.
The sensible pianist Yuja Wang was the soloist for Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a piece from 1957 thought of one among this composer’s lighter, wittier scores. However from the beginning, this efficiency — particularly Wang’s commanding, colourful enjoying — appeared decided to look beneath the bustling floor for hints of the bitterly satirical Shostakovich.
Because the orchestra performed the chortling opening theme, alive with woodwinds, Wang virtually sneaked into the fray with a subtly lyrical rendering of the piano’s quizzical strains. Then, taking cost, she dispatched bursts of brittle chords, tossed off creepy-crawly runs and stored bringing out each the sweetly melodic and industriously steely parts of the three-movement work.
Then Nézet-Séguin, who in his different function as music director of the Metropolitan Opera is presently main performances of Terence Blanchard’s “Hearth Shut Up in My Bones,” turned to the “Candide” overture — and will have tried too arduous to tease out jagged edges and multilayered complexities in Bernstein’s glowing, impish music.
He then spoke to the viewers about how the disruptions of the pandemic shook our collective sense of “the place we’re, the place we’re going,” and defined the pairing of the ultimate two works on this system: Iman Habibi’s quick “Jeder Baum spricht” (“Each Tree Speaks”) and Beethoven’s Fifth. The Habibi rating, written in dialogue with the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, was premiered in Philadelphia on March 12, 2020, to an empty corridor, simply after pandemic closures started.
Habibi imagines how Beethoven, a nature lover, may reply to right now’s local weather disaster. On Wednesday, the compelling piece got here throughout like a sequence of annoyed makes an attempt at cohesion and peace, with fitful begins, hazy chords and driving but irregular rhythmic figures. Lastly, there’s a sense, nevertheless uneasy, of affirmation and brassy richness.
With out a pause, Nézet-Séguin dove into the Beethoven. And in case you suppose this traditional work has to sound heroic and monumental, this efficiency was not for you. Right here was an impetuous, in-the-moment account. Tempos shifted continuously. Some passages raced ahead breathlessly, solely to segue to episodes wherein Nézet-Séguin drew out lyrical interior voices you seldom hear so prominently. It was thrilling and unpredictable. Beethoven felt like he was responding to Habibi, as a lot as vice versa.
The Philadelphians had deliberate to current an entire survey of the symphonies at Carnegie final season, as a part of the celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. That cycle will now happen in 5 applications over the approaching months, with most of those totemic works preceded by shorter new items. (Coming to Carnegie no fewer than seven occasions in all, the orchestra additionally performs extra Coleman in February, alongside Barber and Florence Value, and Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” in April.)
If the opening-night pairing and performances had been indicative, this sequence might be a stimulating dialog between classical music’s storied previous and the tumultuous current.
Different Beethoven symphony applications on Oct. 20, Nov. 9, Dec. 7 and Jan. 11 at Carnegie Corridor, Manhattan; carnegiehall.org.