Yakov Kreizberg, 1959-2011

Yakov Kreizberg, 51, music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo and chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and Netherlands Chamber orchestras, died Tuesday at home in Monte Carlo. The Russian conductor, who often appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, died after a long illness, according to his management.

Kreizberg was on the scene in Philadelphia quite a bit in the rocky days after the opening of Verizon Hall - he conducted the orchestra in nearly three dozen concerts between 1999 and 2007 - and took over a 2003 tour of North and South America for Wolfgang Sawallisch when the orchestra's music director was too ill to travel. His conducting was characterized by an intense energy.

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Here's an excerpt from a review of a 2005 concert with the Philadelphians:

"Physically, he remains fascinating to watch (which counts for something to an audience that does not uniformly connect with music solely on a aural level). Lanky, Kreizberg has arms and fingers that seem to go on forever. He can deploy them to snap into place at an arrival point, or float them as wavy curls in the air. His showing of wide white cuffs completed the PowerPoint presentation.

"But what he did with his physicality this time was markedly more sophisticated than last. He told a clearly formed story in Dvorák's The Water Sprite - one of those Dvorák pieces that have both long-winded sections and moments of great harmonic beauty.

"Kreizberg handled the concise Shostakovich Symphony No. 6 by letting its mood swings speak for themselves, not adding more drama than necessary, touching on solitude and desperation, and later a galloping escape. Orchestra and conductor achieved some particularly fine dynamic gradations, including some of the quietest playing I've heard since Simon Rattle's last visit."

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