David Bernard conducts Mendelssohn and Schubert
Conductor David Bernard leads an inspired and consistent reading through the Mendelssohn. Tempi are relatively brisk, but not rushed. Bernard still leaves plenty of room for drama throughout the development of the first movement of the Mendelssohn. The “Andante” breathes wonderfully, but never loses direction. The strings respond with some quite beautiful playing that only becomes more so into the following third movement. The fourth movement is appropriately menacing and weaves mysteriously to its surging conclusion with biting contrasts of dynamics and textures. It is an impressive performance in its excitement and cohesion of ensemble. It is clear that this is no amateur or even mediocre professional group. They play with a refined leanness of sound. The ensemble is tight and uniform.
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Channels Beethoven
Bernard is a composer’s conductor. He’ll go wherever the music demands, to the most whispery pianissimo or the most roaring fortissimo: limits do not exist in his world. What distinguishes the orchestra he leads from many others is that they seize on the fun parts and highlight them, but without compromising the material that develops and builds to those moments. His interpretation was Teutonically meticulous, with a careful, split-second command of minute details...rapidfire runs, especially from the high strings, were jeweled and clear-cut rather than slurry, no small achievement...The second movement, which draws a straight line back to Bach, was absolutely gorgeous.
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Stares Down a Hurricane and Wins -- October 2012
Anyone who might have been introduced to the Schubert wafting from the radio over the kitchen table on, say, WQXR at dinner time was treated to a welcome rediscovery. And pity those hearing this for the first time here – they’re spoiled for life. Both movements were cinematic and bursting with energy: what a career Schubert would have had in the movies if he’d been born a century later! Conductor David Bernard drew a genuinely suspenseful anticipation from the low strings in the introduction, and likewise from the brass as the second movement made its way out of a lustrous gleam.
Schubert, Strauss and Beethoven -- October 2012
The first-rate Park Avenue Chamber Symphony holds its rightful place at the forefront of New York’s handful of orchestras. Maestro Bernard's musical instincts (and memory) are superb and his players are with him at every lift of a finger. Schubert’s mysterious but ubiquitous “Unfinished” Symphony was surprisingly fresh and limpid, with gracefully shaped song floating atop a securely anchored cushion of bass.
New York Concert Review
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Beethoven and Mahler
An exemplary performance. Conducting without a score, Maestro Bernard led his players in an assured, beautifully shaped and well-paced performance. Maestro Bernard led the huge orchestra with discrete, clear and concise gestures. It was a very impressive performance.
New York Concert Review
Towering, Epic Majesty from the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
David Bernard conducted from memory, without a score: he has these pieces in his fingers, leading the orchestra with a vigorous meticulousness, bolstered by a confidence that there were no limits on where this music might go, from a whisper to a scream. Bernard set up the fireworks up by keeping the mournful initial stillness rapt and mysterious. The effect was stunning -- Bernard and the ensemble took it up as far as the roof would allow.
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Britten, Strauss & Beethoven
David Bernard and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presented varied, challenging repertory with excellent soloists on display, and they succeeded with flying colors. Strauss’s “Death and Transfiguration,” a meaningful choice for this beautiful space, was a real triumph. This masterpiece demands virtuosity and creates challenges for top-tier ensembles, and the orchestra rose to the occasion with superb playing all around. Bernard, who conducted from memory, brought raw, dramatic intensity to the urgent sections, while conducting the noble transfiguration theme with utmost tenderness and lovely, sustained pacing. Balances were unusually clear, considering the church’s resonant acoustics; Bernard found ways to bring out woodwind details, and the brass shined with solid, blended playing.
New York Concert Review
Tension and Transcendence from the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
"The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony are not unknown – they’re touring China late this year – and their Manhattan concert yesterday appeared to be sold out. If you’re a fan of classical music and they’re not on your radar, they should be: they are a world-class orchestra."
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Beethoven, Bernstein, Gershwin & Rosenthal
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony was captivating throughout; the clarity of rhythm and the musical conviction of the players were superb in what was a sparkling account. Music Director and Conductor David Bernard made the most of Beethoven’s melodic material by emphasizing the shape of the musical line, and Beethoven’s trademark sforzandos (heavy accents) were punctuated with tremendous vigor. All dynamics were presented with great contrast, but Bernard also brought out the nuanced, Haydnesque elements in the music: the humor, the grace, the lightness of touch in the orchestration, and he emphasized the Viennese dance music that permeates the score.
New York Concert Review
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony scored a triumph…David Bernard, the Chamber Symphony’s Music Director, led both pieces from memory, with clarity and a sense of spontaneity…the orchestra played with a strong sense of style and commitment…with the depth and fervor of the old school European orchestras.
New York Concert Review
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Bizet, Debussy & Gershwin
The program was perfect…The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony played it marvelously well..this was indeed a polished performance…the dreamy mood in Nuages (clouds) was captured exquisitely…the orchestra was confident and musical, technically impressive and extremely well-prepared.
New York Concert Review
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Review: Vivaldi Four Seasons and Gloria
…a riveting and stellar performance on all fronts. Music Director David Bernard, who led the performance while playing the harpsichord, did an excellent job of maintaining solid ensemble-playing and consistently driven tempos in what was a crisply articulate, high-energy account…
New York Concert Review

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