In Saturday’s (12/19) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini reviews the New York Philharmonic’s Thursday (12/17) concert at Symphony Space in Manhattan, the setting for the orchestra’s first chamber-music program of its new-music series, Contact!. “This venture is the brainchild of Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s new music director…. Listeners of all ages, including lots of eager-looking young people, filled the hall. … In his first season, Mr. Gilbert is imaginatively integrating new and recent works into the orchestra’s subscription-season programs. So the Contact! series has the potential to be a dynamic addition to the Philharmonic’s offerings beyond the confines of Avery Fisher Hall, which was the whole idea.” The program’s four works, all premieres, were conducted by Magnus Lindberg, the orchestra’s composer in residence. Tommasini describes the works: Arlene Sierra’s “bustling” Game of Attrition for chamber orchestra, with its “little cells of tightly confined pitches”; Lei Liang’s Verge for 18 strings, which includes “a plaintive theme meant to evoke Mongolian chant”; Marc-Andre Dalbavie’s “pensive” Melodia with one “unexpected, exhilarating outburst” in which “the instruments break into a kind of free-for-all toccata”; and Arthur Kampela’s “restless, wildly colorful” Macunaima. Alan Gilbert will conduct the second program in the Contact! series in April. 

Posted December 22, 2009