Symphony orchestra as jukebox? Such was the idea behind the Philadelphia Orchestra's People's Choice concert on Friday at the Mann Center. Some 16 possibilities posted on radio station WRTI-FM's website were subject to open voting, which yielded a good medium-weight concert of Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Smetana - all classical music greatest hits that, with any luck, gave the audience an increased sense of ownership. Philosophically, it's a fine idea. But having such a concert more than once a year might not be healthy.
Though this is the sort of program the orchestra members could play on their deathbeds, the performances had curious blank spots. For all of its "Yay, Finland!" spirit, Sibelius' Finlandia didn't have much inner fire, especially compared to the particularly ecstatic treatment of the sunrise music from Grieg's Peer Gynt.