Noseda is back to Washington for two weeks and the National Symphony Orchestra shines at its best

«The program was French; the accent was Italian. Gianandrea Noseda is continuing to show Washington, and the National Symphony Orchestra, what he and they can do together. Thursday night — two days after the orchestra surprised him with a serenade for his 55th birthday — saw Noseda in avuncular mode, offering a chatty introduction to a program of three pieces that showed a narrow slice of French chronology and a broad spectrum of orchestral color. Then he turned around and let loose at and with the orchestra (…) Noseda is the soul of urbanity, and yet there was a rawness to his approach. This program was French, but it was never refined or precious or merely sweet according to the tendencies of French musical stereotype. The Saint-Saëns was colored by the rough punch of cymbals, the cry of trombones, the jabbing of violin bows as the instruments seemed to pant together for breath. He was waking up the music, and the audience, who responded with enthusiastic applause.»
The Washington Post, Anne Midgette

«The South Korean pianist has worked with NSO music director Gianandrea Noseda in a number of concerts abroad as well as on a recording of music by Chopin. Their collaboration Thursday night reflected both familiarity and confidence in each other. There are long stretches in this concerto where the piano functions as part of the orchestral texture, adding a gently percussive edge to even quiet passages. Cho never tried to play over the orchestra, trusting Noseda to find the right orchestral weight. (…) On the heels of Franck’s Gothic darkness and Ravel’s jazz-like cool, Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”), which ended the evening, seemed a throw-back to the comforts of Romantic music without a message. Noseda paced things carefully, allowing ripples of tension to accumulate but never sounding premeditated, building an air of suspense that suffused the whole performance. The occasional majestic interjection of hymn-like organ chords served to calm things down when the music got a little over-excited.»
Washington Classical Review, Joan Reinthaler

«Without waiting for the applause to stop, Noseda grasped the baton and plunged into the first movement, so fleet and intense that its fury left the room breathless. Noseda’s musicians were with him every step of the way throughout this no-holds-barred music-making, maintaining poise, precision and refinement. Beethoven spoke urgently of ideals toward which humanity must continue to aspire, and to Thursday’s politically weary audience, this performance was a reminder why this is one of the most enduring pieces ever written.»
The Washington Post, Patrick Rucker

«When was the last time you were truly blown away by a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra unleashed an urgent, explosive yet meticulously detailed performance at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night that did just that. The Beethoven closed a program that began with music of Schoenberg and Brahms. With a little bit of stage drama, Noseda came on stage after intermission, took a perfunctory bow, whipped around, punching the down-beat as he turned, and they were off. What followed was serious, exhilarating and sometimes surprising. (…) Between the Schoenberg and the Beethoven, not so much a bridge as a cushion, was a lush and colorful reading of Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn. Noseda focused on contrasts of mood here, the mistiness of the first variation, the careful balance of interweaving melodies in the fourth and the blaze of sunlight as the music shifts from minor to major in the majestic final passacaglia.»
Washington Classical Review, Joan Reinthaler