The Philadelphia Orchestra fresh off of their three-week Asian tour was back in Verizon Hall this week sounding supple and electric. Globetrotting seems to energize them. Charles Dutoit was engaged and warm for this intriguing end-season programming, when a lot of orchestras can start to sound tired. Dutoit’s essayed the joyous Mozart sym. no 39. with well-tempered musicality. A crisp prologue to wake the brain and emotions. Then came a challenging contemporary vocal & orchestral work by Chinese composer Bright Sheng called The Phoenix, who was in the audience. Soprano Shana Blake Hill sang about the flight of the phoenix with passion and pristine vocal artistry. But it was pianist Nikolai Lugansky playing Rachmaninoff’s concerto no. 3 that brought the house down. Rolling it out with no flash, Lugansky, playing by memory, kept a keen eye on Dutoit and built this piece past its virtuosic requirements, into a living, breathing masterpiece. Lugansky’s accents and phrasing are completely interlocked with the fab Phils for this. At the end the entire audience lept to its feet and Nikolai took five curtains to a very appreciative crowd. It was great to see a lot of younger people there.

Advertisements