Last Friday’s performance of the Philharmonic on the Central Park’s Great Lawn may not have offered the perfect weather and balmy breezes of Tuesday’s performance, but the orchestra, under the direction of Alan Gilbert, more than compensated – with dramatic, if ultimately unwanted, special effects supplied by an eminent summer storm.
The first set featured Nathan Gunn with an assured and evocative vocal interpretation of Copland’s “Old American Songs”. As the light waned the crows settled back and enjoyed the music, gray skies notwithstanding. By the beginning of the second set, Mahler’s First Symphony, the sun had set. The slow build up of the orchestral work was mirrored by the dropping pressure and rising wind. One dramatic crescendo was reached almost simultaneously as a impressive bolt of lightning cracked across the south end of the Great Lawn. Unfortunately this also heralded the coming onslaught of summer showers and soon afterwards Mr. Gilbert was forced, grudgingly to give o’er to the growing storm. This also meant no fireworks, besides those provided by nature.
The event, as ever, amazed me by the almost effortless manner in which 40,000 plus people enter the park, settle themselves and share one of New York City’s most special traditions. Special kudos also to the New York Philharmonic organization for their brilliant management of the event.