March 8, 2015 |
For all of its reputed fabulousness, the Philadelphia Orchestra is also known for its winter contingency concerts. Most famously, Wolfgang Sawallisch once played Wagner on piano while weather-delayed orchestra musicians trickled in. On Thursday, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin could not muster enough musicians for Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4 , so he substituted Ravel's Mother Goose Suite on four-hand piano with himself and none...
November 21, 2014 |
In the lofty trilogy that is Beethoven's last three piano sonatas - Opus 109, 110, and 111 - each feels like a continuation of the last, into ever more uncharted musical realms. They'll never feel like home: Their strangeness is so specific to the inner world of a composer who had withdrawn into deafness and, in any case, was among history's most singular human beings. So it's understandable that at Wednesday's performance of all three sonatas in one program, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society audience was puzzling over pianist Beth Levin.
February 15, 2014 |
Jazz is universally accepted as the genre that liberates music from the written note. But good luck to the poor stenographer who might have tried to put to paper what pianist Christian Zacharias did with Beethoven and Schubert Wednesday night. Freedom took flight from rigor. The simple, noble melodic material in the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in A Flat Major, Opus 26 , stretched and contracted beyond the bounds of a clear time signature. A trill in the theme was so detailed and grand that it should have been assigned its own zip code.
June 22, 2013 |
The 32 Beethoven piano sonatas - often called the New Testament of keyboard music - track the epic journey from brash youth to Olympian serenity of one of Western Civilization's towering personalities. However tantalizing, the idea of hearing them all on a single day seems impossible. Surely, one wouldn't have expected such an endeavor from Stewart Goodyear, 35, the Curtis Institute graduate best known for Gershwin. Nonetheless, he'll perform all 32 sonatas Saturday in three chronological installments - 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m. - at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center.
May 4, 2013 |
Beethoven's cello sonatas are not often done as a complete, chronological cycle: They run too long for a single concert, but not long enough to fill two concerts without adding some of the composer's non-sonata cello works, diluting the sense of progression in his musical thought. When performed in close to optimum, single-concert circumstances by cellist Efe Baltacigil and pianist Benjamin Hochman on Thursday at the American Philosophical Society, the sonatas came off as a motley collection - verbose in the early works, oblique in the later ones, and with a clear-cut masterpiece in the middle, the Cello Sonata No. 3 (Op. 69 )
February 10, 2013 |
In Chopin, it's about liberty - or at least, liberties. But Emanuel Ax isn't taking them, not many and not to any great extent, which makes him a minor radical. The pianistic tradition in this repertoire of erasing bar lines, blurring note values, and delivering the listener to time-defying spaciousness goes back a century or more. In Thursday night's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Perelman Theater, Ax neither floated nor dallied in his encore, the Nocturne No. 5 in F Sharp, Op. 15 No. 2 . You could have set your metronome to sections of Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Minor, Opus 58 . Shouldn't the sonata's last movement be terrifying, the unexpected climax of a four-movement bildungsroman?
February 10, 2012 |
Somebody needed to program the orphans in Beethoven's output, and pianist Anton Kuerti was the one to do it at his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital Wednesday at the Kimmel Center. Never a glamour pianist, the 73-year-old Vienna-born, Canada-based Kuerti - his hair longer and wilder than ever - has been performing cycles of Beethoven sonatas for as far back as I can remember (40 years) and is a model of nonapologist performers. As majestic as Beethoven can be, his piano sonatas contain some of his most private music - cranky, quirky, and not always clear in what it has to say, especially pieces published not in a litter, but by themselves, without catchy subtitles or nicknames.
October 19, 2010 |
NEW YORK - Though one of the foremost pianists of his generation, Till Fellner requires a detailed artistic introduction. Fellner, born and raised in Vienna and star student of the legendary Alfred Brendel, takes on the most substantial repertoire at the earlyish age of 38 and tends to triumph. His ECM-label recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier is one of the most highly acclaimed discs of its kind in recent years. Now, he's finishing up a three-year complete cycle of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas and recently added Philadelphia to his American tour, filling in for an indisposed Ivan Moravec in a Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert at 8 Tuesday night at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater.
September 8, 2009 |
After so many centuries, Beethoven isn't always hot stuff. But on a recent Thursday here, the composer's cello sonatas packed in the customers at the Bleecker Street club Le Poisson Rouge - in conditions so steamy that pianist Simone Dinnerstein dressed as if she'd just come from playing with her son in the park and cellist Zuill Bailey shed his natty suit coat between movements. No complaints, though. They had a kind of success not possible at their usual haunts. "The closeness of the audience, the fact that people are in a much more relaxed setting . . . that's what concerts should be like," said Dinnerstein later.
February 2, 2009 |
By the time you reach the minuet near the end of Beethoven's 33 Variations in C major on a Waltz of Anton Diabelli (Op. 120), you feel as if you've met a series of knotty, enigmatic challenges. Beethoven has morphed the theme into Bachian fugues, pressed it into a series of pearly arpeggios, elongated it into the language of the minimalists, shredded it up into slithering harmonic fragments, marched, dithered, and generally expanded your consciousness. He's also managed to convince you that music might have had no more prescient seer.