The Brooklyn Philharmonic concluded its season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with "The Ride to Redemption," a program featuring Henryck Górecki's Symphony No. 3 in a world premiere staging by the Ridge Theater. "The Road" opened with "Exsultate, jubilate," a piece in which Mozart, about to turn 17, invested much delightful verve but less of the insouciance and sinew that inform his later, indelible work. Soprano Nathalie Paulin gelled with the chamber ensemble, sustaining a limpid pitch before her elaborate concluding "Alleluia," which provided a preview of the rich elegance she would bring to Górecki's masterwork after intermission. Another "Allelulia" passage, this one instrumental, closed "Mathis der Maler," the symphony Paul Hindemith derived from his suppressed Nazi-era opera on artist Matthias Grünewald. But without more contrast, such as chilling violins that open the third movement, the full orchestral jubilation didn't feel deeply earned.
When the Philharmonic returned, supplemented by piano and harp, a stage-wide scrim descended, and Górecki's No. 3 opened faintly with a double bass solo. Then the five basses were joined by the cellos and the higher strings. Filling the vast scrim, video artist Bill Morrison's flowing shoreline surf, shot from just yards above the beach, was screened in slow motion. In a dark cape, Ms. Paulin mounted stairs near the rear of the orchestra to sing a 15thcentury lamentation, her tone supple and warm, imparting extraordinary aura in a role that could suffer from excess color or personality. Half the length of the almost hour-long symphony, the first movement concluded back among the double basses, joined by a haunting piano statement.
The second movement took a less imposing air, its minimalist textures punctuated with spare harp flourishes. Negative images of ganglialike branches fractured the scrim, while the backdrop depicted a child seated on the shore, tossing handfuls of sand (Laurie Olinder's projections in the first movement showed a clinical exposition of hands; in the final movement they showed tightly cropped faces). Entering from the left, Ms. Paulin sang from a lower podium just inside the scrim, and music director Michael Christie maintained a nuanced effect — massed instruments, faint dynamics — for the palpably attentive audience.
In the final song, Ms. Paulin crossed in her white gown before the scrim to center stage. At one point she faced away as Górecki's pace maintained its solemn eloquence, enhanced by Mr. Morrison's colorful helicopter shot showing derelict tugs, rusting tramp freighters, and oil derricks. The soprano faced the audience to conclude, then descended several steps to the floor, turning with a measured presence to advance up the center aisle as the instrumental finale unfolded.
This was the Philharmonic's first production in a three-year collaboration with the Ridge Theater, and Ridge director Patrick McGrath gave the staging its simplest impact in methodically positioning Ms. Paulin's powerful voice.