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The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI: Yannick, Watts, Grieg, Rachmaninoff, and Muhly

Steve J. Sherman
Pianist André Watts plays Grieg's beloved Piano Concerto in A minor in this 2018 concert broadcast."

Join us on Sunday, June 13th at 1 PM and Monday, June 14th at 7 PM as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in a concert from 2018, conducts a program featuring a world premiere by Nico Muhly, one of the most popular of all piano concertos—Grieg’s A minor—and the work Rachmaninoff composed with the Philadelphia Sound in mind, the Symphonic Dances. André Watts is soloist.

The concert begins with Nico Mulhy’s orchestral suite Liar, arranged from his opera Marnie, Muhly’s second commission from the Metropolitan Opera. The Met gave the U.S. premiere a few weeks ago, following its world premiere at the English National Opera last year.

Composer Nico Muhly talks about his orchestral suite from his opera, Marnie.

Marnie is based on Winston Graham’s 1961 novel, which Alfred Hitchcock adapted for the 1964 film starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. The Liar Suite reworks material from the opera into a new piece, not simply an abridged orchestral retelling of the story in miniature. Muhly compares it with Marnie’s psychoanalysis: her memory comes back to her out of order, in abstract ways.

Things from one memory trigger another memory, and things from reality link up with the unreal. The Liar Suite does that, too: It puts things out of order and in layers, specifically to show different sides of Marnie. It’s more an abstract portrait of the character than a narrative arc.

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder interviews pianist André Watts.

The beloved A Minor Piano Concerto of Edvard Grieg would become the first full expression of his newly awakened sense of national pride. It emulates the Schumann Concerto—also in A Minor—in more than just the striking piano flourish that opens the work. It also demonstrates a dedication to the spirit of Norway’s native folk music. Andre Watts is the soloist for this performance.

The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s masterful Symphonic Dances, a work written for, and premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941. It was Rachmaninoff’s final composition, and a work he fashioned with the distinctive Philadelphia Sound in mind.

During intermission, WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with the iconic Andre Watts, and Susan Lewis sits down with composer Nico Muhly and Music Director Nézet-Séguin.


Muhly: Liar, Suite from Marnie  (World premiere and Philadelphia Orchestra commission) 

Grieg: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16

I. Allegro molto moderato

II. Adagio

III. Allegro moderato molto e marcato

Andre Watts, piano


Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

I. Non allegro

II. Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)

III. Lento assai—Allegro vivace—Lento assai, come prima—L’istesso tempo, ma agitato—Poco meno          mosso— “Alliluya”

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor


Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on our 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.