Daniel Harding and Joshua Bell with the NY Phil

I know Bell would prefer HIS picture be here but he didn’t earn that.

I went to hear Daniel Harding conduct the NY Phil in Le sacre du printemps, also featuring Joshua Bell playing the Chaikovsky Violin Concerto, and I wrote about it for Bachtrack.

For one of the most iconic works in the art music repertoire, The Rite of Spring actually isn’t performed very often. This week it made a welcome appearance on a New York Philharmonic program under the baton of British conductor Daniel Harding. It turned out to be the main event of an otherwise routine evening.

You can read the full review here. The Sacre was mighty impressive, the best I’ve heard the Phil play in a while. I don’t think it was my favorite angle on the piece–I’d prefer something more extreme in one direction or another–but the precision and committment were extremely satisfying. I haven’t heard Harding conduct in some time (last and only other time was the Chéreau Così in Vienna, I think) and he’s going on my list of Good Young Ones along with Andris Nelsons and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

I cannot say the same for Joshua Bell. He gave us all the notes (in record time, possibly) and put a glam sheen on them too, but there was precious little music. I’ve heard him play much better performances than this one, I know he has it in him, so this superficiality was disappointing.

In Stardirigent: The Movie, Daniel Harding will totally be played by Damian Lewis, don’t you think?

Photo copyright Deutsche Grammophon/Harald Hoffmann.

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  1. Did you get a chance to hear any of the NY Phil's Stravinsky Festival of '10? I really enjoyed Gergiev's take on The Rite, especially in the context of concerts solely devoted to Stravinsky. I thought the Phil sounded great then, so I'm sad that I won't get the chance to hear Harding's version. Thanks for the review!

  2. That's hilarious – I was just watching Homeland and thinking exactly the same thing. I would have definitely liked a whole lot more savagery in Le sacre. He's a fine conductor but that just might be the problem here.

  3. I happened to be in NY the week before and went to the Phil rehearsal to hear Harding, who I didn't know, conduct Mahler's 10th, which I also didn't know, and I was very, very impressed. Wish I could have heard a regular performance.

    I have heard both MTT and Levine conduct wonderful performances of the Rite of Spring in years past.