Review: Philadelphia Orchestra world premiere of Bates piano concerto, with soloist Trifonov

Posted on: January 18, 2022

“The hot-off-the-press piano concerto given its world premiere by the Philadelphia Orchestra Friday afternoon could have pushed all kinds of boundaries in form and style,” writes Peter Dobrin in Friday’s (1/15) Philadelphia Inquirer. “But Mason Bates … has produced a concerto whose basic contours would have been recognizable to any concert hall denizen a century ago. Traditionalists [were] happy … judging from the spirited Verizon Hall audience reaction to the piece led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin [with] soloist Daniil Trifonov…. None of Trifonov’s brilliant qualities would have touched off such immediate listener love had this Piano Concerto—co-commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony—not been so listener-friendly…. Bates’ great strength is that he writes in a clear, personal voice, which to these ears often echoes the best of film-score writing…. This is unfailingly good-natured music … but then there are sections of complexity you’d like to examine over and over, like the one later in the first movement from the piano-alone music to the orchestral climax.” Also on the program was Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, with “lots to love, in particular solos from clarinetist Ricardo Morales, harpist Elizabeth Hainen, guest trombonist Weston Sprott, and violinist David Kim.”