Possibly it was the surge of adrenaline that the New York Philharmonic felt at lastly returning to dwell concert events at Lincoln Middle after a yr and a half. Possibly sizing down symphonic energy for a short lived venue — Alice Tully Corridor, with simply over a 3rd of the seats of the orchestra’s standard theater throughout the road — was a piece in progress on opening evening.
Regardless of the motive, the Philharmonic’s clenched, loud efficiency of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 final week left me jangled and headachy. From my seat near the motion — perhaps that was a part of the issue, too — the efficiency appeared consistent with the worst impulses of Jaap van Zweden, the orchestra’s music director, who introduced simply earlier than the season that he would depart his submit in 2024.
That bullied, blatant Beethoven swept up even a usually suave soloist, Daniil Trifonov, who huffed and pounded. It didn’t bode properly for the rest of this season, a lot of which can be held at Tully because the Philharmonic’s dwelling, David Geffen Corridor, undergoes renovations.
Not so quick. On Thursday — the orchestra’s nerves maybe settled, and now on the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Middle, one other short-term dwelling a lot smaller than Geffen, however airier in really feel than Tully — a special Beethoven piano concerto, the Third, was excellent.
Sure, I do know: Another week, one other Beethoven concerto. But it surely’s barely simpler to forgive unimaginative programming when the efficiency is as spirited and full-bodied because it was with Yefim Bronfman as soloist.
Beloved by this orchestra, significantly on this composer, Bronfman constructed imperceptibly by the primary motion to organ-like grandeur in his cadenza. Then his tone receded into pearly dreaminess earlier than ending in a shivery trill. His serene poise in the beginning of the Largo (later recalled in his encore, Chopin’s Nocturne No. 8 in D flat) was matched by silky strings. The Rondo finale had sprint throughout, however Bronfman by no means gave the impression to be placing phrases in italics or boldface; this was easygoing enjoying, in the perfect sense.
The concerto adopted Hannah Kendall’s “Kanashibari” (2013), which has a number of ethereal moments earlier than falling into an extended stretch of John Adams-esque chugging strings and brassy fanfares, with the odd slap of wooden. However the orchestra performed it with focus and polish.
Opening with a recent work of seven or eight minutes that’s swamped by the next hour of Beethoven and Haydn, this system was within the basic mode of an ensemble that’s profoundly cautious but needs to look progressive.
A slight complication is that whereas Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto is frequent fodder for the Philharmonic, Haydn’s Symphony No. 92 in G (“Oxford”) isn’t. It’s normal repertory, certain, however not for this orchestra, which till attempting it out this summer time hadn’t performed it in nearly 20 years.
It made you, as performances of his symphonies typically do, need to hear them on a regular basis. Significantly after they gleam just like the “Oxford” did on Thursday, the phrases in the beginning sculpted however not overly managed. Maybe, going for crispness, van Zweden sometimes erred on the facet of curtness, and the ultimate motion generally tipped into feeling extra pushed than witty. However the enjoying was largely wealthy and good-humored: balanced and mild within the second motion, then swish and affected person, and with even a touch of thriller, within the third.
Based mostly on first impressions, evidently, of the Philharmonic’s two most important residences this season, the intimate but spacious Rose Theater would possibly give the orchestra and its sound extra room to breathe.
New York Philharmonic
Program repeats Friday and Saturday on the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Middle, Manhattan; nyphil.org.