January 25, 2014 |
You've never met anyone quite like Peter Serkin before. In his three-piece suit with white pocket square, he was a natty presence on the Perelman Theater stage Wednesday night. It was the playing that was rumpled. Not always. There were many moments of incredible polish, especially when it came to the pianist's approach to sound. He has that ability to conjure an instantly rounded tone without doing any violence to the start of the note. But all over - in Beethoven no less than in a contemporary score - Serkin, 66, occupied the space somewhere between an eccentric and outsider.
December 15, 2006 |
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.
November 10, 2013 |
Pianist Yuja Wang was pretty much canonized by her Kimmel Center audience Thursday, and perhaps not for typical reasons of hot fingers and charismatic glamour. In a promising collaboration with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Wang scaled the pianistic Everest that is Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with a sense of ease that took the music to a particular place that it can rarely go. Having heard Wang grow up before my very ears at the Curtis Institute, I'm convinced she is basically a chamber-music pianist - with a mastery of the keyboard that allows her to bring the same flowing conversational quality to the Rachmaninoff concerto that she had in Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 10. In Rachmaninoff, the conversation was a high-level one between her and any given phrase, duly transmitted to the audience without the slightest pretense or Scriabinesque neuroses.
January 31, 2015 |
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.
February 5, 2002 |
Andre Watts had planned a program of Chopin and Liszt for his recital Sunday at Verizon Hall, but changed to Beethoven and Chopin. The first would have been an essay on the rise and dominance of pianists and their idiom in the 19th century, but by prefacing Chopin with Beethoven, Watts may have been reminding listeners of music's ability to surmount and adapt in times of apparent crisis. To contemporaries, Beethoven's death in 1827 seemed to mean the end of music. What else could be said, after all?
May 13, 2015 |
Though Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia began its 50th-anniversary season amid fears within the music community that there may not be a 51st, the official half-century celebration arrived Sunday at Verizon Hall with many visiting dignitaries and an air of solidity, both artistic and financial. Enjoyment was buoyed by relief. Music director Dirk Brossé promised an Organ Concerto but missed the deadline, and filled the slot with his own Philadelphia Overture and Barber's Toccata Festiva (with organist Alan Morrison often using demure tone colors to show just how wild this piece can be)
February 21, 2011 |
CAMDEN - In music, as in other areas of life, a young artist's ideal situation is one where successes are noticed and mistakes are understandable - one reason Symphony in C is worth the trip to Camden, both for musicians and audiences. When the flu sidelined the up-and-coming pianist Di Wu, her Saturday replacement, Sara Daneshpour, had a star-is-born opportunity. She at least had welcome exposure that will serve her well in future, not-so-last-minute engagements. Music director Rossen Milanov gave a highly considered performance of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll that might not have worked outside the resonant acoustic of the Gordon Theater.
February 24, 2012
IN CASE YOU haven't heard, yarn bombing is the new graffiti, and not just because it's cleaner and more environmentally-friendly. Yarn bombing is the act of knitting a cozy or warmer to spontaneously and secretly wrap around something in a public space.One famous examples of this guerrilla knitting is last April's bombing of the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. To prove how mainstream the movement has become, it's moved into...
March 15, 2015 |
Beethoven and Falla. Only one conductor would dare to pair such radically dissimilar composers with the Philadelphia Orchestra: the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Planned by him before his death last year, the program on Thursday fell to the orchestra's conductor in residence, Cristian Macelaru. He is as strong-minded as anyone standing before the orchestra this season and, overall, made the evening work in a manner hugely different from Frühbeck de Burgos'. Beethoven was represented by his least severe orchestral work, the Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral")
February 1, 2001 |
BEETHOVEN'S "MISSA SOLEMNIS. " Performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting. With soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Marjana Lipovsek, tenor Robert Dean Smith, bass Alfred Reiter and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. 8 p.m. today, tomorrow and Saturday, Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets. Tickets: $18-$60. Info: 215-893-1999. When Beethoven's friend and pupil, the Archduke Rudolf, was elevated to archbishop, the composer was commissioned to write a solemn mass for the occasion.