Yannick Nezét-Séguin Brings Both of His Orchestras to Carnegie Hall

Music| Yannick Nezét-Séguin Brings Both of His Orchestras to Carnegie Hall

Critic’s Note pad

In two appearances, the hectic conductor demonstrated how he intends to balance directorships in New york city and Philadelphia.


Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Monday. Credit Credit Richard Termine

Anthony Tommasini

For all his younger energy and aspiration, could Yannick Nezét-Séguin have taken on too much by simultaneously holding the music directorships of the Metropolitan Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra?

He preserves that he can manage both, and even sees prospective advantages. The distance of New york city and Philadelphia could create collective projects, he has actually stated

Audiences at Carnegie Hall got a look of how this may work when he led a French program on Monday with the Met Orchestra and a Russian one on Friday with the Philadelphians. He conducted both with steadfast stamina and palpable spontaneity. The players of each orchestra seemed and sounded motivated.

I was curious about how likewise, or differently, these 2 orchestras may come across under Mr. Nezét-Séguin’s direction. However these concerns were pressed aside by his immediate, every-moment-matters approach on both nights.

The Met Orchestra show ended with a radiant, in some cases blazing and excitingly impetuous efficiency of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé” Suite No. 2. The discovery, though, was Mr. Nezét-Séguin’s account of Debussy’s “La Mer,” which opened the program. Communicating impressions of the sea seemed lesser to him than making a case for this rating, completed in 1905, as pathbreaking. Even throughout stretches of hazy colorings and harmonies, Mr. Nezét-Séguin drew out pungent harshness and wayward inner voices with shocking freshness.

The “Play of the Waves” movement was so turbulent it sounded more like roughhousing. “Dialogue of Wind and Sea” stumbled upon as downright hazardous. Debussy here seemed to be using Stravinsky a playbook for “The Rite of Spring.”

The program also included the mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, in beautiful voice, singing Henri Dutilleux’s “Le Temps l’Horloge” song cycle, finished in 2009, haunting music that maintains refined French impressionist colorings while speaking a boldly modernist language. She also sang an alluringly sensuous account of Ravel’s “Shéhérazade.” Her appearance may have been a benefit for exemplary work at the Met this season, singing leading functions in Nico Muhly’s ” Marnie” and in 2 (of only 3) productions Mr. Nezét-Séguin administered over: Debussy’s ” Pélleas et Mélisande” and Poulenc’s ” Dialogues des Carmélites.”


On Friday, Mr. Nézet-Séguin returned with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Beatrice Rana in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Credit Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance began with a dark, grimly effective account of Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song,” an early work long thought lost however uncovered in 2015 over a century after its best. Mr. Nezét-Séguin ended the night with a various kind of rescue task, leading a fervent and brassy account of Rachmaninoff’s seldom-heard First Symphony, written when the composer was 24.

The work had a dreadful 1897 premiere, led by the composer Alexander Glazunov, who was baffled by the piece and might have been intoxicated. This 45- minute symphony can still seem confusingly episodic and excessive. But the music is impassioned, certainly mercurial and filled with concepts. Mr. Nezét-Séguin drew abundant playing from the orchestra.

The highlight of the concert, however, was the efficiency of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the fast-rising, stunningly-gifted Italian pianist Beatrice Rana as the soloist. Her recital launching in March, at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, was amongst the most remarkable events of the season in New york city.

In the Prokofiev, she dispatched the tangles of passagework, pummeling chords and arm-blurring bursts of octaves with excitingly simple and easy virtuosity, while also highlighting the music’s minutes of lyrical richness and poetic musing. Mr. Nezét-Séguin and his players just hardly kept up with the brave pace she set in the driving final area.

As an encore, she provided a glittering performance of Chopin’s Étude in A flat (Op. 25, No. 1). Mr. Nezét-Séguin rested on the podium to listen, a deactivating gesture of affection.

More about Mr. Nézet-Séguin and Ms. Rana

Anthony Tommasini is the chief symphonic music critic. He composes about orchestras, opera and varied designs of contemporary music, and he reports regularly from major global celebrations. A pianist, he holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Boston University. @ TommasiniNYT

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