May 4, 2014 |
Youthful embraces and lonely leave-taking occupied each half of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday concert at the Kimmel Center with an unexpectedly particular characteristic in common: Unguarded emotionalism unlike anything else heard from the respective composers, whether in Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 1 or Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 . Smartly devised by music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the concert had long-term contour, starting...
January 19, 2014 |
As a breed, Hungarian pianists are often so fiercely individual that the best of them project a distinctive sound world all their own. So it was with Dénes Várjon, whose local debut Thursday at the American Philosophical Society was a configuration of repertoire whose components weren't unknown but converged into an overall experience that went to harrowing places. The key piece at this Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert was Bartok's early-period, little-known Two Elegies , one of his most unfiltered expressionistic works, written after the demise of his relationship with violinist Stefi Geyer.
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.
November 13, 2012 |
Certain music never becomes easy. In fact, the formidability of Bela Bartok's six string quartets increases over time, especially when heard in the marathon concert by the Borromeo String Quartet Sunday at the Curtis Institute. Though not the first Bartok marathon in my experience, it was the most intense, performed at a high standard that brought you so deeply into the music's inner workings that you wondered if your brain could take it all in. Spanning the period from 1908 when the composer was 27 to the eve of World War II in 1939, Bartok's quartets ask to be performed in a single concert not just because they represent one of the highest peaks in 20th-century music, but because there's an easily traceable progression.
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.
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.
April 22, 2012
Sunday Dance day The Opus 1 Contemporary DanceCompany performs works by Lina McMenamin and Tim Early at 1 and 5 p.m. at the Wayne Center for Dance Arts, 205 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne. Tickets are $20. Call 610-812-6125. BalletX performs works by Jodie Gates, Edwaard Liang, and Matthew Neenan at 2 p.m. at the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. Tickets are $35; $30 for seniors; $22 for students. Call 215-546-7824. Philadanco performs works by Rennie Harris, Dwight Rhoden, and Ronald K. Brown, and Gene Hill Sagan's "Suite en Bleu" (remounted by Kim Bears-Bailey)
October 29, 2011 |
They're getting better. More like even better. That's not faint praise when applied to highest-caliber musicians such as Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt. As an observation on their Kimmel Center recital Thursday, it comes from a high starting point: They previously seemed beyond improvement. Both have been at the top of the classical music profession for years: Violinist Tetzlaff has recorded the Bach sonatas and partitas twice, while Vogt is a pianist who easily encompasses the big-fisted virtuoso repertoire, as well as the smaller-scale program presented here by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
November 20, 2010 |
Philadelphia's Unintentional Bartok Festival - an accidental convergence of significant Bartok performances over the last week - had a gratifying climax on Thursday by the Philadelphia Orchestra: Guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos programmed the popular Concerto for Orchestra only days after Midori made the Violin Sonata No. 1 more lucid than I could ever have hoped, and the Juilliard Quartet brought decades of authority to the ...
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.