The program began with Debussys rarely heard Fantaisie. In this three-movement, artfully integrated piece a concerted work rather than a completely developed concerto the extensive piano part is more of a first among equals than a showcase for a virtuoso soloist. Instead of taking the limelight, the piano adds to the overall texture of the music, avoiding the conflict between soloist and orchestra that is more typical of a concerto. In this performance, Aimards elegant, lyrical playing blended smoothly with the lush sounds of the orchestra in a performance that highlighted the modernistic qualities of Debussys music.
The Debussy was followed by another seldom-heard work, Prokofievs First Piano Concerto, a tightly constructed piece, which the composer described as his first more-or-less mature composition, both in conception and realization. Aimards playing of this energetically rhythmic piece was brilliant precise and articulate, with all the exuberant emotion that Prokofiev demands, while Robertsons accompaniment was full, rich and dynamic but never overpowering. Throughout the piece, Aimard displayed an astounding technical facility and a surprisingly wide dynamic range, handling the quieter moments with great delicacy and bringing out all the Prokofievian wit and sparkle of the more spirited moments. At the end of the piece, members of the orchestra joined the audience in giving Aimard an appropriately rousing ovation.
The program ended with Also sprach Zarathustra, a huge challenge that Robertson brought off magnificently, delivering an electrifying and memorable performance of Strausss episodic and volatile work. Robertson made the structure of the score clear in a performance in which the music moved constantly and inevitably forward, without sacrificing spontaneity or drama. Glenn Dicterow, long-time Concertmaster for the Philharmonic, delivered especially beautiful and bittersweet solo work in the Das Tanzlied section, and Robertson kept the orchestra at a high energy level throughout the 35-minute work. The audience gave the performance deservedly long and enthusiastic applause.
- The performance was followed by ones on 28 and 29 November and 2 December
- New York Philharmonic