The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. New York, NY
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. New York, NY

NEW YORK – The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s recent performance of Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 was a masterclass in contrasting Romantic expressions. Soprano Sara Pearson‘s exceptional artistry further elevated the concert.

David Bernard with Soprano Sarah Beth Pearson and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presenting Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

David Bernard with Soprano Sarah Beth Pearson and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presenting Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Inside Out Audience Immersion

Held at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, this concert showcased the orchestra’s vitality and significance. Moreover, under the intuitive direction of conductor David Bernard, who employed his patented and innovative Inside Out audience immersion concept, it offered a genuinely mesmerizing learning experience.



Before the orchestra performed segments of the music to illustrate its provenance and features, Bernard reminded the audience, “You know everything you need to know to enjoy this music.” As promised, Bernard’s insights, leadership, and expertise made the music vital, meaningful, and intimate.

Wagnerian Romanticism

The evening began with Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod, a symbol of Wagnerian Romanticism. Bernard introduced the piece and discussed the tragic, doomed couple Tristan and Isolde. In addition, listeners delved into Wagner’s revolutionary use of harmony and melodic structures, maintaining tensions that evoke profound emotional and spiritual longing.

Radiant Performance

Sara Pearson’s performance in the Liebestod was a highlight of the evening in a dramatic, expressive, glorious, and radiant performance with a voice characterized by luminous clarity and emotional depth. Pearson splendidly captured the substance of Isolde’s transcendent love and sorrow. The interpretation of the Liebestod by Pearson was powerful and nuanced as her dynamic control and expressive phrasing brought the character’s complex emotions to life. The faultless chemistry between her soaring vocals and the orchestra’s rich harmonies created a spellbinding ambiance, drawing the audience into Wagner’s world of passion and longing.

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

The Tristan Chord

Bernard enriched the audience experience by guiding the orchestra to perform segments of the music, including Wagner’s famous Tristan Chord, revealing its unsettled tensions and essential role in portraying the opera’s expressive landscape. These live demonstrations allowed the audience to grasp the complexities of Wagner’s harmonic syntax and its insightful influence on the music’s narrative.

Neoclassical Leanings

In contrast, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 offered a different yet equally profound expression of Romanticism. Before the performance, Bernard reflected on Brahms’s neoclassical leanings, absolute music, and the composer’s struggle with Beethoven’s legacy. He noted Brahms’s inventive amalgamation of classical form and Romanticism using the sonic tools and orchestra of the late 19th century.

An Homage to Beethoven

Bernard cited Brahms’ musical references to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, leading the orchestra to play excerpts from the symphony, particularly the fourth movement’s opening, which echoes the “Ode to Joy” theme. This demonstration underscored Brahms’ homage to Beethoven while showcasing his unique voice and compositional mastery. The orchestra’s performance of the symphony highlighted its dramatic intensity, lyrical beauty, and structural clarity, capturing Brahms’ Romantic heroism and emotional depth.


David Bernard conducts The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, presenting Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

David Bernard conducts The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, presenting Romantic Reflections at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Divergent Methodologies of Brahms and Wagner

The divergent methodologies of Romanticism in Wagner’s and Brahms’ works were extraordinarily distinct. With its unbroken melodic lines and fluid harmonies, Wagner’s music evoked a passionate, poignant, and transcendent journey. On the other hand, Brahms’ symphony, with its classical structures and rhythmic vitality, communicated a sense of heroic struggle and definitive triumph. Bernard’s narrative highlighted Brahms’ Romantic heroism, grounded in tradition yet forward-looking in its emotional expressiveness.

Immersion Concept

A significant aspect of this performance was Bernard’s immersion concept, where audience members were seated among the orchestra, converting their experience from passive listeners to active participants. This innovative seating arrangement allowed the audience to experience the music from within the ensemble, providing an intimate and visceral connection to the performance. The immediacy of the sound and proximity to the musicians offered a unique perspective, enhancing the emotional impact of Wagner’s lush, emotive soundscapes and Brahms’ disciplined yet fervent symphonic form.

Abiding Supremacy

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s performance, guided by Bernard’s thoughtful commentary, live demonstrations, and immersive approach, illuminated the rich diversity of music within the Romantic era. The collocation of Wagner’s intense, vibrant journey with Brahms’ structured yet passionate heroism, combined with the immersive seating experience and the remarkable artistry of Sara Pearson, offered the audience a profound appreciation of Romantic music’s scope and gravity. This concert was a testament to the orchestra’s adaptability, Bernard’s visionary leadership, and the abiding supremacy of just two towering figures of Romanticism.

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections

David Bernard, Conductor
Sara Pearson, Soprano
Richard Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod, Opera, WWV 90 (1859)
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (1868)
Ludwig Van Beethoven: excerpts from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (1824)

Park Avenue Chamber Symphony

David Bernard, Music Director and Conductor
875 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065
(917) 740-7227
Website: https://chambersymphony.com/

For information and tickets for next season, click HERE.



Readers may also enjoy our reviews of The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony records TchaikovskyPeter and the WolfTranscendent Triumph and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2,  and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Romantic Reflections

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