To open its 125th season, Carnegie Hall is bringing back the New York Philharmonic, an orchestra that presided there from 1891 until 1962 in more than 5,000 concerts — the most of any ensemble in the venue's storied history.
The program, which NPR Music and WQXR will broadcast Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, features Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto — a piece the composer himself conducted during the hall's five-day inaugural festival in 1891. Joining the Philharmonic is Evgeny Kissin, a pianist who made his Carnegie Hall debut 25 years ago, at age 18, and who still draws intensely loyal, even rabid, fans to his recitals there.
But the gala concert is not all retrospective. It opens with the world premiere of Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg's Vivo, one of 125 new works the hall is unveiling over the next five seasons. Concluding the evening is Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2, music Lindberg had in mind while writing his own.
The Philharmonic's ties to West 57th Street go back to 1887 when Walter Damrosch, the conductor of the New York Symphony Society, met steel magnate Andrew Carnegie onboard a ship to Europe. Damrosch made his pitch for a new building. "The city very much needed a hall for orchestral playing," says Barbara Haws, the Philharmonic's chief archivist. "Fast-forward a couple years and lo and behold, here's this great hall."
The inaugural concert, on May 5, 1891, featured Damrosch leading the Symphony Society. In 1928 the orchestra merged with its better-regarded rival — the Philharmonic Society of New York, founded in 1842 — into what we know today as the New York Philharmonic. It eventually left for Lincoln Center in 1962 though it has returned periodically since, most recently in 2011 (a planned merger between the Philharmonic and Carnegie in 2003 fell through).
Kissin brings his own ties to both Carnegie and the Philharmonic — he made his U.S. debut with the orchestra in 1990. It also doesn't hurt that he embodies a Russian Romantic tradition that is well-suited for the Tchaikovsky concerto. This concert begins a season-long Perspectives series featuring Kissin, in which he will give recitals, recite Yiddish poetry and play chamber music.
- Lindberg: Vivo
- Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
- Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2
Evegeny Kissin, piano
New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, conductor
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