The following performances stood out for reviewer Geraldine Freedman in 2019. The list is in chronological order.
April 2. Yefim Bronfman. The legendary pianist filled in on three-days notice to perform a superb recital notable for his masterful, elegant and poetic renderings of romantic and impressionistic works, two encores and several standing ovations. Union College Concert Series
July 1. Opera Saratoga’s weekend offerings of Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” followed by the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Ellen West” were riveting for superb singing, the distinctive worlds the characters inhabited, and the company’s ability to soar to comedic heights yet delve deep to dramatic lows. Spa LittleTheatre.
July 16. Glimmerglass Opera gave knockout performances over a weekend with an ethereal, marvelously inventive John Corigliano “The Ghosts of Versailles” followed by the world premiere of the darkly moving and poignant Jeanine Tesori “Blue.” The singers were terrific but it was the scores for both operas, which the orchestra played superbly, that evoked each opera’s world so effectively. Glimmerglass Festival.
July 19: New York City Ballet’s three new ballets delighted but it was Kyle Abraham’s “The Runaway” with Giles Deacon’s eye-popping costumes that stole the show, that and the company’s amazing dancers. Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
July 20: New York City Ballet principal dancer Megan Fairchild stunned, awed and charmed audiences as “Coppelia.” Her effortless, easy confidence in the supremely demanding role — one of her first after returning from maternity leave, left people speechless. Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
August 2. The Philadelphia Orchestra opened its first week with customary brilliance supported by dancers from Philadelphia Dance Company in marvelous costumes who danced with intense abandon while the orchestra swayed, swooned and spun out their sinuous lines under conductor Stephane Deneve. Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
August 6: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s opening concert was special for pianist Michael Brown, whose rippling technique, musical sensibilities and sparkling manner anchored all the pieces. Spa LittleTheatre.
August 11: The Philadelphia Orchestra gave atmosphere, color and rhythm and commanding musical diversity to a wide ranging program spearheaded by conductor Kensho Watanabe, filling in on short notice, whose enthusiasm sparked the musicians. Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
October 22. Pianist Paul Lewis was remarkable throughout his recital but especially so in Beethoven’s “Thirty Three Variations on a Waltz of Anton Diabelli.” His committed intensity, technical fluency and connection to the composer’s wishes and demands astounded. Union College Concert Series.
November 11. The Albany Symphony Orchestra has never sounded better this season but its performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 under music director David Alan Miller was as good as it gets. They captured all the soaring beauty, yearning introspection within the sweep of its four movements with technical excellence and exceptional musical aplomb. Palace Theatre.