Gianandrea Noseda conducts the NSO in an American music program
«The National Symphony Orchestra is getting better at connecting to the world outside its doors. On Thursday night, the day before the inauguration, Gianandrea Noseda, its music director designate, led an all-American, presidentially focused program, including Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and suites from John Williams’s scores to “Lincoln” and “JFK”. It’s not always clear how seriously to take the “national” in this orchestra’s name, but after the last two inaugurations, which the orchestra basically ignored, this was a fitting concert for inauguration week. Noseda is a conductor who works to connect. His reach is, literally, vast: his arms arc out from the podium like the wings of a great bird, beating the air as if forcing the music to lift into flight. He’s a kinetic, physical conductor, making manifest the effort of bringing music to life. He speaks engagingly from the podium, eliciting chuckles, for instance, by warning the audience that Bernstein’s “Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy”, commissioned by the NSO in 1960, would be over in a matter of seconds; “It is short but intense”, he cautioned, before animating it with the force of a much longer work.
Finally, he brings a kind of media attention that the NSO hasn’t had for a long time. The orchestra just announced an agreement with medici.tv, the leading online classical music streaming service, to stream three NSO concerts this season to an international audience — because medici.tv has an established working relationship with Noseda. (…) In the past, the visible work Noseda does on stage hasn’t always been audible to me in the playing, but on Thursday he carried along the orchestra with a sense of excitement, and with a quantity of pieces that made the relatively short program feel packed — from Stravinsky’s sometimes controversial arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” through to a rich, sensuous reading of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, in which the brass got a little carried away with all the wah-wahs, the pianist Jon Kimura Parker engagingly flung himself into the score to meet the orchestra’s fortissimos, and Noseda milked the crashing finish for everything it was worth.»
The Washington Post, Anne Midgette