January 31, 2008 |
Elgar began his Piano Quintet in A minor (Op. 84) in 1918, only a year after Bartok composed his Second String Quartet, and they are worlds apart. The Mendelssohn Quartet, with guest Jonathan Biss, performed both Tuesday night at the Perelman Theater and, even separated by an intermission, the clash stayed in the ears. Elgar's chamber piece doesn't sound like the sentimental-to-stoic Elgar we know and love; it's a throwback to old-style romanticism. Some of it is Schumann, hefty octaves and flourishes, sometimes it does a dance suggesting, gasp, an English tango.
May 7, 1996 |
The Music Group sang the premiere of Michael Kaulkin's Cycle of Friends in its weekend concerts, but it was Bartok's transformations of folk-song texts that proved to be the center of the program. Conductor Sean Deibler led the women of the chamber choir in seven of Bartok's unaccompanied Choruses for Treble Voices. Then, after intermission, he led Bartok's reworking of those same songs in which he added orchestral support. The women's ensemble found the intriguing intervals and distinctive metrical shifts a source of interior drama in the unaccompanied version.
February 22, 1986 |
The Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 makes an event of a concert, and its appearance on the Philadelphia Orchestra's program yesterday reaffirmed its magic. Shlomo Mintz was the soloist this time, his playing high-strung and propelled by demons. Erich Leinsdorf, on the podium, was less fired by the music, and in that division lay the sense of stress and occasional grayness that sometimes crowded into the performance. Mintz, playing an instrument that penetrates orchestral fabric cleanly, found in this music the basis for displaying his technical sureness and incisive rhythmic gift.
September 25, 2013 |
Though Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra has been such a constant presence in Philadelphia Orchestra programs from the 1940s on, one easily forgets what a steep challenge it can be for musicians playing it for the first time - no doubt the case with many Symphony in C members who credibly and sometimes thrillingly took on the piece in Camden Saturday. Written on borrowed time when the composer was fatally ill and thought his composing life was over, the Concerto for Orchestra lives up to its title by challenging every corner of the symphony orchestra, but in ways so consolidated and distilled that virtuoso flourishes are few, hiding places even fewer.
April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
October 16, 1999 |
To put it in 1999 terms, the Juilliard has the reputation of being a blue-chip among string quartets. Steady but rarely spectacular, inhabitants of the conservative side of the excitement scale, the half-century-old group exudes solidity. The quartet, which opened the 14th season of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society last night, lived up to its reputation. Usually. In Haydn it was refined. In Bartok it was controlled. But in the second movement of Beethoven's String Quartet, Opus 59, No. 2, the quarter soared.
February 7, 1986 |
Those who bought IBM at 10, were in South America when Halley's comet reappeared and sit exactly where the home-run ball will fall are also those who have been passing up Philadelphia Orchestra concerts that immediately follow Riccardo Muti's departure from the series. It is obvious that a period of adjustment follows his leaving, and last night's concert was studded with faulty adjustments. Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos was on the podium to lead a program of music by Ravel, Lalo, Bartok and Blacher.
June 30, 1993 |
The air crackled with excitement Monday even before Charles Dutoit stepped on the podium to lead his first summer concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Mann Music Center was packed, compared to last week's scraggly attendance. It really helps to have a full house, and this one conveyed an air of eagerness that spread pleasantness and good expectations all around. The eagerness appeared to have a lot to do with Dutoit's presence, for after four seasons the summer music director has won a deserved popularity here.
November 18, 2010 |
It's all too easy to see Midori as a gala-esque figure - refined, remote, and playing something like Bruch's Scottish Fantasy with a great orchestra on an ornate stage - and not as the intensely physical violinist ready to dig deeply into the dense, enigmatic Bartok Violin Sonata No. 1 , getting her hands dirty (figuratively) and then progressing to the even more abstract George Crumb Notturnos . But that summarizes her Tuesday recital, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society - full of challenging repertoire and risk-taking performances, plus great imagination and depth.
May 10, 2012 |
Andras Schiff played the recital of his life on Tuesday, and in light of the lofty standard established by this 58-year-old pianist, that's saying a lot. But the 2½-hour recital of miniature works — the first half had 74 movements or pieces played without pause — was a lot to take in. Comfortable enjoyment wasn't in the game plan. While Schiff has long charmed his public with his teddy-bear presence and poetic, soft-spoken concerts of Bach, his Tuesday recital, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at the Perelman Theater, interspersed Bach inventions among more assaultive peasant dances by Bartok and the brand-new Circus Dances by the contemporary Austrian composer Jorg Widmann.