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Vladimir Jurowski Returns to Philadelphia

Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
03/18/2010 -  & March 19 and 20
Johannes Brahms: Tragic Overture opus 81
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto opus 54
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 opus 55

Benedetto Lupo (piano)
Philadelphia Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)

V. Jurowski (© Sheila Rock)

Vladimir Jurowski has forged a remarkable partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra since his debut five years ago. That was clear even before the concert began. Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – barely half-filled for some concerts this season – was near capacity. As soon as Jurowski launched Brahms Tragic Overture, the depth and intensity of that partnership quickly emerged. The audience was captivated by the polished beauty of Jurowski’s conducting and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s playing.

Jurowski summoned crisp playing from the orchestra. Brahms’ popular overture emerged with great detail and clarity. But the Russian-born maestro also charged the music with intensity. Rhythms surged. The instrumental lines were blended with remarkable clarity. The melodies emerged intently, carefully guided by Jurowski’s precise but pliant baton. In moments of stillness, the conductor and musicians achieved a quiet rapture. The overture swept along to thrilling climaxes.

Philadelphia Orchestra audiences have heard countless interpretations of Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Jurowski and Italian keyboard artist Benedetto Lupo left their mark on this familiar score. From his first entry, Lupo produced a limpid tone that rippled fluently through Schumann’s music. He did not storm his way through the concerto. Instead, he played with elegance and restraint. Jurowski supported the pianist’s introspective interpretation with an accompaniment that was both refined and passionate. He encouraged a deft dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra.

Jurowski capped the evening with an inspired performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. He swept into the opening allegro with bracing vitality. Beethoven’s music seemed to erupt with an elemental force. Jurowski found the drama but also matchless refinement in his interpretation of this familiar score. The musical phrases were carefully shaded and accented. The orchestral solos were filled with contrasting color. Inspired by the conductor, the orchestra responded with playing of beauty and refinement, aside from some sour horn playing.

Throughout Beethoven’s long symphony, Jurowski balanced musical impetuosity with careful precision. His interpretation was tautly controlled but also free and spontaneous. The funeral march unfolded with solemn majesty before achieving powerful climaxes. Beethoven’s music “spoke” through Jurowski’s infinitely nuanced baton.

The performance rightly reached the musical heights in the finale. Beethoven’s music seemed to unfold with blinding energy. At the end, the maestro and his musicians were greeted with a huge ovation.

Robert Baxter



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