The pianist Gerald Moore, one of many nice accompanists of the 20th century, known as his memoir “Am I Too Loud?”
It’s a query members of the New York Philharmonic ought to ask themselves frequently. Gentlemen of the brass part: I’m speaking to you. Conductors may need to pull up a chair, too.
The Philharmonic’s sound has taken on a tough edge, disrupting a few of music’s most superb moments. Tutti eruptions that felt crude reasonably than grand blighted the orchestra’s two most up-to-date packages at David Geffen Hall. On Jan. three, Paavo Jarvi led Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, a Sibelius tone poem and Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from “Daphnis et Chloé.” This weekend’s program, which opened on Thursday underneath the route of Jakub Hrusa, included Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. three and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
In each packages there was a lot to love, even to be thrilled by. The strings could be a marvel of cohesion and heat. Individual solos — of the flutist Robert Langevin within the Ravel, or the concertmaster Frank Huang in “Scheherazade” — are exquisitely nuanced. But dynamic peaks are likely to ring out harshly aggressive, with a sound that’s massive with out being full. Put delicately, fortissimos usually are not this orchestra’s forte.
In the Dvorak concerto, the cellist Gautier Capuçon battled valiantly to say himself towards an ensemble that appeared intent on belittling him. His tone sounded tight and strained at first, however over the course of the primary motion started to glow; his enjoying turned eloquently assured.
This is heroic music that builds pathos and pleasure from the distinction of solo cello and enormous orchestra enjoying, sure, fortissimo. But whereas that Italian time period interprets as “loudest,” brawn ought to be matched by character. Dvorak marks these moments “grandioso.” They ought to be an exhilarating amplification of the cello-protagonist. Here, the ensemble obliterated him.
In the hard-driving “Danse Générale” that concludes Ravel’s suite, there have been extra sledgehammer moments during which quantity swallowed up colour and complexity. (A disgrace, because the light-dappled opening “Daybreak” motion held glimpses of the Philharmonic’s enjoying at its most beguiling.) And within the begin of the Rimsky-Korsakov on Thursday — this motion marked “maestoso,” or majestically — the large brass statements burst out with saber-rattling energy however little majesty.
The most satisfying a part of that night was the Prokofiev concerto with the ebullient pianist Simon Trpceski, who gave a efficiency that encompassed cartoonish humor and hushed lyricism. Mr. Hrusa is a charismatic conductor with a selected knack, evident in “Scheherazade,” for minutely shaping a string melody in order that a complete part seems to play with the identical easy freedom as a soloist. Mr. Hrusa additionally managed to husband the dynamic forces within the Rimsky-Korsakov in order that probably the most voluminous louds got here close to the top. But there, as soon as once more, the sound lacked the required roundness and texture to assist the decibel burn.
As the orchestra adapts to its new music director, Jaap van Zweden, who returns to the rostrum subsequent week, its sound will certainly evolve. The means of a bunch of musicians to supply earth-shattering loudness with purely acoustic means is among the joys of classical music, and a promoting level in an age during which quantity is reasonable and managed by a dial. It’s price getting these fortissimos proper.