© 2023 WRTI
Your Classical and Jazz Source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Excitement Prevails Ahead Of Philadelphia Orchestra's European Tour

Courtesy of the artist
Violinist Lisa Batiashvili joins the Philadelphians on their European tour, starting in Luxembourg City on May 21, 2015, with additional performances in Cologne, Dresden, Berlin, Dortmund, Lyon, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, and London.

This spring's Philadelphia Orchestra tour destination isn't Beijing, but Berlin and nine other musical capitals of Europe. Between May 21st and June 6th, audiences will hear the level of music making that local listeners have known for three years under Yannick Nezet-Seguin. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports what is in store.

David Patrick Stearns: The biggest danger of the 2015 Philadelphia Orchestra tour of Europe is that the rest of the orchestra's year might seem like a letdown – to judge from Yannick Nezet-Seguin's state of elation.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin: I'm easily excitable, but this is even more so. I just can't wait.

DPS: The formula is simple: The Philadelphia Orchestra plays Europe for the first time since 2011, when it was under the cloud of bankruptcy. Through his associations with other orchestras, Nezet-Seguin has a number of European strongholds. The two together? One of the orchestra's officials, Ryan Fleur, needs no crystal ball to Europe's point of reference.

Ryan Fleur: They're aware of what he's done with Rotterdam. There's genuine anticipation over what our musicians and Yannick will do together, particularly with the repertoire we're bringing.

Composer Nico Muhly

DPS: The programs are solidly built around what the orchestra does best – Brahms and Strauss, plus a new contribution by the provocative young Nico Muhly. He has written a slam-bang concert opener titled Mixed Messages, even though, during a pre-concert talk, there wasn't anything mixed about his messages to Nezet-Seguin.

Nico Muhly: I tried to make fun little things for him to do. What's great about watching him is that it's a very tiny body with very big gestures, which is essentially my emotional landscape. So there you go! Well, if I do this here and then he's going to have to twitch over to the side.

DPS: The fail-safe piece on the concert programs is actually the "iffiest" – Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3, written for The Philadelphia Orchestra, recorded here with Rachmaninoff himself conducting. But the piece has never received the love that many feel it deserves.

YNS: It's so well written. Let's play it and take it seriously. Freedom is something you can achieve in Rachmaninoff by building on what's written, and not something that needs to be taken lightly.

DPS: But does Nezet-Seguin hold any magic keys to the piece? We soon find out.