Concert Review: The Philadelphia Inquirer (US)
The sub and the sublimeAKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2013, 3:01 AM Who was that traditionalist on the podium Thursday night? No piece of music plays itself. But Michael Tilson Thomas, guest-conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall, was content to let the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique unfold within the narrow bounds of standard interpretation. At 68, Tilson Thomas executed some wonderfully balletic moves, though their musical benefit was, at best, hazy. As an artistic statement, this could have come from any number of competent conductors. The emphasis fell upon the players, to whom Tilson Thomas yielded the lion's share of credit in ovations. The degree to which it was deserved varied. It was not a great night for the orchestra's woodwinds, though English hornist Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia was admirably solid. A few moments in the evening even added to evidence from the last few seasons that a couple of veteran players should begin thinking about putting the ensemble's interests above their own visions of perpetual ensconcement. The highlights: a chance to hear harpists in two distinct shades, the deep warmth of Margarita Csonka Montanaro against the brighter Elizabeth Hainen; a wall-of-sound brass section; and percussionists agile in all manner of effects. The absence of ideas was unexpected, coming as it did after a Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 of genuine depth. The fascination emanated from French pianist Hélène Grimaud, though only partially. Even before she entered, Tilson Thomas was making points.
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