“Mann again showed himself to be a skilled musical architect, designing and executing a beautifully paced interpretation, which seemed to spring from somewhere deep within the music rather than superimposed upon it.” [Debussy: La Mer] • Mann is masterful with baton in Masterworks series
San Diego Union Tribune
“Mann’s baton technique reminds me of such conductors as Eugene Ormandy and Fritz Reiner; he has both their showmanship and musicianship. Arkansas is lucky to have his services. And the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra obviously enjoys working under his leadership.” New World
Mann led the ensemble in precise collaboration, shifting meters and dynamics to color and comment on the guitar’s often dreamy message. Both Vieaux and the ensemble made thorny writing appear to be easily managed and maintained the feeling that the heart fit easily in the fingertips. Mann, now music director of the Arkansas Symphony, challenged a long tradition when he followed with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Listeners were reminded that it is impossible to re-create performances like those common in the 1960s, the ’80s, and even later. This young orchestra has a different metabolism and an impatience with sentimentality. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth was often labeled “lugubrious” 50 years after its composition, but Mann found a new understanding of this piece. Its intricate inner workings emerged clearly, the often-obscured instrumental balances underlined in ways that gave the piece new expressivity.
Speed is not the mark of the new objectivism; instead, a clear-eyed perception of relationships and pairings gives direction and force to re-creating what many would call a warhorse. Mann demanded precision and opened the orchestral textures to make welcome soloists of the bassoon, flute, and horns and to show the composer’s deft use of violas and cellos in coloring the music’s outlook. The concert could count as an evening of new music.
“For the Mozart concerto, Mann literally put away his big baton and coaxed a warm, genial rendering of the rarely performed concerto. With an animated McGill and a more serious-looking Smith, conductor, soloists and orchestra approached the concerto as if it was chamber music, and it came across as though the occasion was a gathering of close, committed friends making music.
San Diego Union Tribune
“Philip Mann is an extraordinarily gifted conductor. I have seen and heard him prepare and perform a very difficult work of mine in Sydney, and cannot think of anyone who could have done a better job. He is efficient with his rehearsal time, and manages to get the best out of his musicians. What I found amazing is that his musical instincts were so fine, that he anticipated my comments, correcting things before I could even mention them. He is a true musician, a real leader, and will have a World Class career if given the opportunity.”
John Corigliano (Note following the 2009 world-premier of John Corigliano conducted by Philip Mann)
“Mann brought a lot more than just urgency to the piece. (Strauss: Don Juan) Despite his predilection for excitement, Mann kept the tempos flexible, allowed the music to breathe in the more reflective sections, and most impressively, his interpretation was expertly paced. He gestures were so expansive you wondered if he would have anything left for the penultimate section, before the quiet ending, but he showed he still had plenty in the tank for a shattering climax. “
San Diego Union Tribune
“‘From the New World’ is one of the war horses of symphonic music. Yet Mann’s interpretation of it was as fresh as if he were giving it its first performance. The significant themes and motifs in every section stood out.”
“Mann led the orchestra in a deftly controlled yet deeply felt account of the work, marked by a combination of lyricism and strength. By the time the triumphant conclusion was reached, one had the feeling that a world-class conductor had just led a world-class orchestra.” • Traditional sounds new in symphony concert
“Mann attacked the piece with a robust, gleeful vigor, and the orchestra responded with tight, bright playing. Mann exhibited absolute technical control tempered with an emotional connection to the music and the players in his expressively graceful yet passionate conducting style.”
“With his keen ears, thorough musicianship, a clear sense of dramatic shape and a rehearsal manner as warm as it is exacting, Philip Mann has everything it takes to make a major conducting career.”
The young conductor, Philip Mann, conveyed a mature command of his forces.
BBC, May 2004
Mann’s elegant and efficient conducting style brought unity of purpose to the ensemble, as if the musicians had been in rehearsal far longer than the festival allows.
Durango Herald | July 27th, 2004
I have to say the performance, for me, was ecstatic! Philip Mann ….commanded the music with a wild dance of baton and hands, completely inhabiting every nuance of sound with definitive gesticulation and poise. The San Juan Symphony with professional musicians from all over the region was excellent. Timing was on the button, solos articulate and crisp, and the full effect of Schubert with its clash between softly plucked violas and crashing full-on crescendos was incredibly moving. … But the program didn’t end there. It got even better. Virtuoso bassoonist Benjamin Kamins took center stage for Vivaldi’s Concerto for Bassoon in E minor and was an absolute delight with his dazzling mastery of basso profundo runs and glissandos. Then, after intermission, Mann’s “Sketchy Business” program took an amazing leap from the baroque to the contemporary with American avant garde composer Michael Dougherty’s hilarious musical spoof, Dead Elvis. … I found it funny, goofy and absolutely riveting … And then Mann brought us back to the romantic era with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. …. A spectacular finish which drew a standing ovation – yes, for the last piece, but really for a marvelous evening of classical sound at its most intricate and triumphant (with even a little virtuoso detour into the experimental present). Bravo!
The Watch | Feb. 19, 2009
Conductor Philip Mann, the other young talent center stage, proved his podium proficiency in the Violoin Concerto. Mann conducted Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony from memory, giving full play to the work’s sunny extroversion. ….The orchestra offered some of its better playing of the season in The Italian Symphony. In the third movement, a minuet and trio, the winds traded deft and playful themes, and the horn fanfares were consistently well-tuned and well-turned.
SanDiego.com | April, 5, 2009
Mann skillfully crafted the pieces together to create an evocative performance… The orchestra, handled the transitions between them with grace, easily moving from Aaron Copland’s melodic Appalacian Spring Suite to Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question.
Oxford Daily Information | 16th May, 2004
A well worth listening to orchestra with excellent musicians. The Philharmonia, under the leadership of Philip Mann, received a warm and appreciative ovation from the public. It was a perfectly skillful and pleasurable performance by a capable and clever musician.
Enkopings Posten, Sweden | March 20th, 2004. (trans)
Saturday’s event was positively grand. The cellos were rich and deep in the Schubert, and everyone was at the top of their game on the romantically sweeping “Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture” by Tchaikovsky.
Durango Herald | Feb. 19, 2009
Mann was quiet but firm in his demands on the players, and, judging by the adoring smiles on their faces, is not disliked by many of the members. … With a potential for depth and versatility that can make one eager to track their development (the Oxford Pops and Mann), let us hope the next concert is very soon.
Oxford Times | Friday May 21st, 2004
Conductor Mann had very good control over tempi, the ensemble, and over each instrument section…(Brahms 4th Symphony) The 3rd movement featured joyful playing of wind and string sections, while the 4th was overwhelming.
Uppsala Posten | Sweden, March 22nd, 2004. (trans.)
Pianist Elena Smirnova, spinning easily through Mozart’s “Concerto for Piano No. 13,” with conductor Philip Mann leading a well-rehearsed, water-tight orchestra.
Durango Herald | August 3rd, 2004
A gentle and persuasive rendering of Copland’s Appalachian Spring opened the evening. Mann showed a particular affinity with the piece and guided the orchestra and the audience into a relaxed and open state.
What Mann does so cleverly is lull us all into a sense of security by offering that first sweet aperitif. This way, his next move to introduce the wonderful Charles Ives and, in particular, the European premiere of a contemporary piece by a young up-and-coming American composer, Christopher Dietz, is accepted and enjoyed by the audience… Dietz’s recently-commissioned piece was played with intelligence and gusto by the orchestra.
At a time when relations between Britain and America are more contentious than they have been in many decades, it was a wonderful antidote to attend such a well-executed concert that showcased several talents to watch out for in the future.
BBC | May 2004
Holiday/Pops and Special Concerts
Guest conductor Philip Mann opened the concert with a generous serving of songs and dances from Leonard Bernstein catalogue, a savvy programming decision executed by the orchestra with a focus and conviction that is sometimes absent from Pops’ performances. Mann chose a rousing tempo for the “Candide” Overture, and the players rose to the challenge with apparent ease. For this overture they fused the brassy snarl of a Broadway pit band with symphonic muscle, virtues they also brought to three dances episodes from “On the Town,” Bernstein’s earliest stage success. ……An energetic but purposeful conductor, Mann provided just enough clever commentary to make the ample Copley Hall audience feel welcome and part of the proceedings.
San Diego.com | April 5, 2008
Mann encouraged trombone slides and splats, backbeats and other big-band tricks with a smile and the slightest of gestures. By the time Mann-and-ensemble wrapped up the evening with a snappy rendition of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes,” it couldn’t get much better.
Durango Herald | July 27th, 2004
With Marvin Hamlisch as pianist and assistant conductor Philip Mann suavely leading the orchestra, music from such movies as “The Way We Were” and “The Sting” illustrated Hamlisch’s film career.
San Diego Union Tribune | Nov. 12 2007
The much-feted American composer John Corigliano is one of the few contemporary composers who can really draw a crowd, and the Verbrugghen Hall was packed for the first performance of a new arrangement of his song cycle Mr Tambourine Man. It certainly warrants it: the music is a well-articulated, heartfelt response to the trenchant lyrics of Bob Dylan, and the scoring is thoroughly convincing. As Corigliano himself points out, the audience’s knowledge of Dylan’s original melodies, unavoidably blowing in the wind, add another layer to the delicate weave of music, words and memories.
Under the reliable direction of Philip Mann, the Conservatorium’s Modern Music Ensemble gave solid performances. Angela Brewer was a fine soloist, forceful in Masters of War, endearing in Clothes Line and blissfully floaty in the final anthem, to the words of Forever Young.
… this new arrangement launches the Con’s 101 Compositions for 100 Years with a suitably grand flourish.
Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald | Sep. 11, 2009 World Premier