The sky's the limit when the exuberant Bramwell Tovey conducts the Philharmonic in the second season of Summertime Classics. (Some who were here last year may recall him literally lifting off the podium during a Gilbert & Sullivan ditty!) The irrepressible Englishman will lead four themed programs comprising music that he describes as "known, yet rarely performed by the Philharmonic." Mr. Tovey, music director of the Vancouver Symphony and chief conductor and music director of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, particularly enjoys "the informality of the occasion‹the chance to speak to the audience" about the pieces to be performed. He also delights in the musicians of the Orchestra who, he says, "have a wonderful esprit de corps. Their bonhomie and virtuosity provide the core ingredients for Summertime Classics."
This year's programs offer something for everyone. For A Little Nightmare Music (June 30 and July 1), think "gothic." Conductor Leopold Stokowski did in Disney's Fantasia when he used Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor ‹the piece that opens this program of ghoulish favorites. Liszt's virtuosic Totentanz (Dance of Death) marks the Philharmonic debut of Marc André Hamelin, whom Mr. Tovey calls "a veritable Paganini of the piano." Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice and works by Gounod, Musorgsky, and another by Liszt complete the program.
New York, New York (July 2-3) celebrates this great city with music by some of its most gifted denizens, including the Philharmonic's Laureate Conductor, Leonard Bernstein, whose On the Waterfront Suite highlights a program that also includes works by John Kander, Gershwin, Leroy Anderson, and Copland. The soloists: the Philharmonic's own English Horn Thomas Stacy, Principal Trumpet Philip Smith, and Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker.
Young at Heart (July 7-8) features works for and about children by Dohnányi, Britten, Bizet, and Tchaikovsky, as well as the Philharmonic debut of pianist Stewart Goodyear. Tickets for children, ages 6-12, are half price.
The series concludes with Soirée Française (July 9-10), a musical trip to France, scored with some rarely heard gems, including selections from Delibes's opera Lakmé, that feature the Philharmonic debut of soprano Laura Claycomb, joined by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore.
Will there be any surprises?"Yes," says Mr. Tovey, "but they wouldn't be surprises if we said what they were!"
Lucy Kraus is a Publications Editor at the New York Philharmonic.