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The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI 90.1: Emanuel Ax Plays Brahms' Second Piano Concerto

Wikipedia Commons
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on Sunday, Sept. 12th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, Sept. 13th on WRTI HD-2 brings pianist Emanuel Ax to the stage of Verizon Hall, in a performance of Johannes Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto. Also on the program is the U.S. premiere of Stacey Brown’s Perspectives, and a work by a composer whom Brahms ardently championed, Antonin Dvorák, whose impassioned Symphony No. 7 closes the concert from 2018.

Yannick Nézet-Seguin conducts.

Credit Lisa Marie Mazzucco
Pianist Emanuel Ax

The Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 is a gargantuan work, and it lasts longer than any other major Romantic piano concerto by quite a bit. Brahms was an absolute master of writing for the piano, and as this expansive, four-movement concerto demonstrates, he was able to blend drama, passion and fire with tenderness, in the most remarkable of ways. It’s one of the giants in all of Romantic music, and always a special treat when performed by Manny Ax, long-time friend of The Philadelphia Orchestra since his first performance with them in 1970.

Canadian composer Stacey Brown is originally from British Columbia, but has lived and worked in Montreal since 2002. Her workPerspectives was given its premiere in May 2017 at the Maison Symphonique in Montreal, with l’Orchestre Métropolitain under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. It’s U.S. premiere is given with the performance we’ll hear Sunday. At times dissonant, at times consonant, it creates patterns that allow for different perspectives, with instruments moving forward, then receding, musical motifs examined from different sharp angles – almost a work of Cubism in music. The “perspective” is never the same when holding the motives up for examination.

Concluding the concert after intermission, one of Antonin Dvo?ák’s towering achievements, his Seventh Symphony. Brilliantly-scored, Brahmsian in the best sense, but with a Slavic soul, it perhaps can’t compete in popularity with Dvorak’s New World Symphony, but it is a supreme example of symphonic writing, and one of the most important works in the post-Beethoven development of the symphonic genre.

During intermission, WRTI's Susan Lewis speaks with Yannick.


Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2                                                                                                                       Emanuel Ax, piano

Brown: Perspectives


Dvorak: Symphony No. 7

The Philadelphia Orchestra                                                                                                                                Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app!Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.