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Christopher Rouse

Phantasmata

Recorded February 14, 2013

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Conductor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, launches a new appointment as chief conductor designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra this fall, shortly after the opening of its already iconic new home. The Grammy Award–winning conductor previously served as principal guest conductor of the orchestra (then known as NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg) for more than a decade, and will assume the role of chief conductor in September 2019. This position follows his truly transformative eight-year tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, during which, through such key initiatives as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, he succeeded in making the Orchestra a leader on the cultural landscape. Alan Gilbert is also conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the founder and president of Musicians for Unity. With the endorsement and guidance of the United Nations, this new organization will bring together musicians from around the world to perform in support of peace, development, and human rights.

Alan Gilbert makes regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has led operatic productions for Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, where he was the inaugural music director.

His discography includes The Nielsen Project, a box set recorded with the New York Philharmonic, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, captured on DVD at The Metropolitan Opera, for which he won a Grammy Award. He received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts of two star-studded New York Philharmonic productions: of Sweeney Todd and Sinatra: Voice for a Century.

Alan Gilbert has received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College, as well as Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. At The Juilliard School, he is the first holder of the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies and serves as Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies. After giving the annual Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture on Orchestras in the 21st Century: A New Paradigm during the New York Philharmonic’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, he received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.

Learn more about Alan Gilbert

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Phantasmata

CHRISTOPHER ROUSE (b. 1949)
Phantasmata (1981-1985)

It's always fascinating to delve into the provenance and meaning of the titles Christopher Rouse gives his works. The Pulitzer Prize–winning American composer explains that Phantasmata comes from the German–Swiss physician and occultist Paracelsus (1493–1541), who defined the word as "hallucinations created by thought." Christopher Rouse created Phantasmata on commission from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, where it was premiered in October 1986 with Leonard Slatkin on the podium. The piece really began with what became Phantasmata's middle movement, "The Infernal Machine," which fellow–composer Joseph Schwantner advised him could be part of a larger work. Four years later Christopher Rouse had added a first and third movement, called respectively "The Evestrum of Juan de la Cruz in the Sagrada Familia, 3 A.M." and "Bump." He explains that the first movement title "also makes use of Paracelsian terminology — 'evestrum' is Paracelsus' name for the astral body; thus, this opening movement represents a dreamt out–of–body 'somnambulatory journey' through Antoni Gaudí's remarkable Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona." The movement is scored for strings and percussion. "The Infernal Machine," as the name suggests, "constitutes a darker hallucinatory image, as the immense juggernaut, eternally in motion for no particular purpose, is represented by a perpetuum mobile wherein the leviathan sometimes whirs along in mercurially unconcerned fashion but at others groans or throws off slightly hellish sparks, grinding occasionally as it changes gears." And the finale, "Bump," is described as a "nightmare conga," which, Rouse humorously suggest, might make one think of "a gala Boston Pops performance in Hell." The 18–minute Phantasmata promises a unique musical adventure from this important composer of our time, about whom the Baltimore Sun wrote: "When the music history of the late 20th century is written I suspect the explosive and passionate music of Rouse will loom large."
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