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ENTERTAINMENT
January 8, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Hilary Hahn has been such a solid performer over the years that her cancellation of summer and fall concerts due to muscle strain seemed unthinkable. Sometimes, the more vague the cause, the scarier it is: Remember how Murray Perahia's years of physical problems began with a mere paper cut? Yet Monday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert (which came roughly a month after Hahn resumed concertizing) showed her at full strength: She had to be, with Tchaikovsky's epic Piano Trio Op. 50 in a first-time collaboration with pianist Natalie Zhu (a longtime musical friend)
NEWS
January 8, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, STAFF MUSIC CRITIC
Not until encountering Pierre Boulez in a live performance could you know what was meant by a fire-drill concert. The occasion was the conductor/composer's 1986 return to the New York Philharmonic, which he directed from 1971 to '77 with repertoire that modernists loved and the traditional subscription audience did not. Almost on cue with Boulez's own Pli Selon Pli , the audience began departing in droves. And more droves. I've never seen anything like it before or since (and shudder to think what his 1973 Philadelphia Orchestra guest date must have been like)
ENTERTAINMENT
January 31, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
In a somewhat unconventional program, Yannick Nézet-Séguin led the Philadelphia Orchestra through the lighter side of Shostakovich - assuming there actually is one. Even when the composer seems to be kidding around, his music hints at something subversive, that the music means much more than it says, and what it says is always dangling out of reach. That's why you want to hear it again. The objects of curiosity Wednesday at the Kimmel Center were Shostakovich's seldom-heard Piano Concerto No. 2 and music for the film The Gadfly - paired with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 - creating a provocative conclusion to the St. Petersburg Festival that could have been less convincing had performances not been so purposeful.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 28, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
In the more populist realm of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, the Philadelphia Orchestra got back to its core purpose - playing an all-Beethoven concert, as opposed to accompanying a Lord of the Rings movie. The combination of good weather and a Saturday night slot (usually, it's week nights) showed how true classical concerts, even ones without cannons and fireworks, do what skeptics suspect isn't possible. Great music from another century not only sells, it excites, and not just the listeners who know it well.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 13, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, STAFF MUSIC CRITIC
Individual charisma can be regarded suspiciously in chamber music, because the medium is so much about cooperation. Thus, the Orion Quartet concert Sunday with Philadelphia Orchestra oboist Richard Woodhams packed the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater with promises that the excitement would arise from integrity rather than superficialities. The program was as serious as they get: Leon Kirchner's String Quartet No. 1 and Beethoven's mighty String Quartet in E-flat Op. 127 . The one lighter spot positively glimmered: Mozart's Oboe Quartet K 370 , not the composer's most significant piece of chamber music, but who cares?
NEWS
November 13, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The knighthood, the vast discography stretching from Monteverdi to Brahms, and the acclaim that has come with it are all tangible evidence that Sir John Eliot Gardiner, 68, is a pervasive presence throughout the European and American classical music world. Why, then, is he only now making his Philadelphia debut on a tour with his period-instrument ensemble, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique? Why has he never been asked to guest-conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra? If ever there has been an alternative conducting career, it's his. "Think of conductors of my generation, Zubin Mehta, and musicians such as Pinchy Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman.
NEWS
June 7, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
In 1973, when the Philadelphia Orchestra made history in China, Inquirer music critic Daniel Webster was there. Now David Patrick Stearns reports on the 2013 visit, building on this long relationship. BEIJING - The two concertmasters bowed together Thursday, the Philadelphia Orchestra's David Kim ceding the first-desk seat to the China National Symphony's Yunzhi Liu. Though the collaboration at the National Center for the Performing Arts (known as the Egg, a reference to its glass and titanium dome)
ENTERTAINMENT
September 18, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral") is usually about as safe as concert programming can be. Yet when the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia decided to opened its 50th season with Beethoven's celebration of nature and weather Monday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, it took one of the bigger chances of its recent history. Audiences here aren't used to hearing that music played by 35 or so players. But then, music director (and composer) Sir Dirk Brossé (newly knighted in his native Belgium)
NEWS
December 15, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The more you admire Peter Serkin, the more likely he is to leave you exasperated. One of America's great pianists, he loves steering himself out of the mainstream, sometimes to artistic Valhalla, sometimes into the ozone. Both extremes were apparent in his Tuesday recital, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. On the merit of his performance of Beethoven's fearsome Piano Sonata in B-flat major ("Hammerklavier"), the recital was among the great classical events of the waning year.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 11, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
There was no Schubert, no Hugo Wolf. By starting with Beethoven and wending a pleasant path through Liszt, Satie and Frank Bridge, tenor Matthew Polenzani and pianist Julius Drake surveyed the lieder road less traveled. Not one of the composers on Friday night's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital in the Perelman would become best known for the genre; Liszt conquered the piano, Ravel the orchestra, and Beethoven, well, almost everything. And yet, what gems. Adelaide, Op. 46 , is a relatively early Beethoven work of great sophistication, an energetic burst of yearning in which the singer sees and hears his love object and nature as one. So, too, the performers.
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