Concerts / The Philadelphia Orchestra

“Pablo Heras-Casado brought a chipper, well-detailed interpretation to Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde, and the sound was even leaner in the Brahms Symphony No. 2 … There were Goldilocks moments: the section after Jennifer Montone’s lovely horn solo at the end of the first movement, where Heras-Casado took a bit of time to feel something, and in the quicker tempo of a second movement made to seem all the more charming for its blush of youth.” (

“Although Spanish guest conductor  has led the Philadelphia Orchestra once before, in 2016, he is a relatively new face for the Philadelphians. Unlike some guest conductors, Maestro Heras-Casado seems to have figured out how to harness the marvelous energy of our wonderful orchestra …

Samuel Jones, born in 1935, began his studies in his native Mississippi but later studied under Howard Hanson at the Eastman School of Music.  He composed his Flute Concerto for principal flute Jeffrey Khaner, and wrote some extremely fast passages, solos in both the extreme top and lower registers of the flute. It was a thrill to hear how easily and smoothly Khaner could reach the heights and how well he could sustain a full sound in the lower register of the flute.

Maestro Heras-Casado conducted the piece with both verve and control, making the right signals to keep the string sections at their softest so the flute could be heard above them.  Samuel Jones’ concerto was both melodic and modern, starting with complex and dense harmonies in the Lament, giving the soloist both lush Poulenc-sounding minor scale passages and duets and trios with the orchestral flutes …

The final piece on the program, the Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 73 is a veteran gem. Maestro Heras-Condado gave the orchestra space to exploit the incredible melodic lines, with Richard Woodhams bringing the oboe melody to the forefront of the delicious Brahmsian woodwind writing. David Cramer, also an old hand in the orchestra, showed his talents with crystalline flute entrances. Marc Gigliotti, fully recovered from hand surgery, sounded as smooth on the bassoon lines as ever, and the fantastic French horn parts were so beautifully wrought by Jennifer Montone – it could not have been better.  The ensemble of the horn section when they played the thick Brahms chords was just right – no wavering and all silken, perfectly tuned. In the fourth movement, the trombones had a short part, but it was so smooth and rounded, it was stunning.”

Margaret Darby –

Pablo Heras-Casado is the Principal Guest Conductor of Teatro Real, Madrid, Director of the Granada Festival, Conductor Laureate of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, artist of harmonia mundi & Deutsche Grammophon, also records for Decca Classics and Sony Classical, and is Global Ambassador of Ayuda en Acción.


Photos: Fernando Sancho