Concert Review: New York Philharmonic’s “Le Grand Macabre”

Posted on: May 28, 2010

Friday (5/28) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette writes, “Every so often, the field commonly known as ‘culture’ presents its followers with a Big Event. The latest one is the first-ever New York production of Györgi Ligeti’s opera ‘Le Grand Macabre’ at the New York Philharmonic, which opened Thursday night at Avery Fisher Hall to an audience of le tout New York. ‘Le Grand Macabre,’ a 1970s-vintage atonal opera about death, sex and the Apocalypse, is accounted a classic in Europe, seldom done in the United States, and, presented in a lavish semi-staging with video projections, was a planned highlight of Alan Gilbert’s first season as the Philharmonic’s music director. … The Philharmonic played willingly and in some cases beautifully, spreading a thick impasto of soft sound under the voices, or chopping into the drama with harsh wedges of percussion; but there were rawnesses and slight awkwardnesses that conveyed the sense that the music was still new to them. … Still, it was well worth doing. Gilbert led with conviction, showed his leadership, and produced something that a lot of people will be talking about.”

Posted May 28, 2010