May 21, 2013 |
NEW YORK - The reaction to James Levine's return to conducting Sunday can only be described in Yiddish: Geschrei - an outcry like no other. Amid Levine's two years of surgeries, setbacks, and rehabilitation for back, spine, and other problems, many feared the beloved Metropolitan Opera music director would never again be seen alive, much less conducting a program of Wagner, Beethoven, and Schubert. But there he was, arriving onstage in Carnegie Hall with the Met Orchestra, riding a custom-made scooter with a rostrum that raised him, in the fashion of a hydraulic stage elevator, slightly above the orchestra.
January 31, 2013 |
The good salesman cloaks his charm in virtuous clothing. The great one lets you see the pitch, and yet through some act of charisma make you feel buoyed in having assented to both the sale and his crafty methods. You had to admire the way the St. Lawrence Quartet was selling it Tuesday night at the Perelman Theater. As the latest visitors in the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society's undeclared string quartet festival, the St. Lawrence's solicitousness extended beyond an extremely extroverted playing style to body language that, for two members, involved bouncing out of chairs or literally kicking up their heels.
April 11, 2000 |
In the chamber music world, new string quartets are often thought to be the one-stop domain of the restlessly modern Kronos Quartet. But Kronos misses much, as suggested by the Takacs Quartet's foray into new music with Bright Sheng's String Quartet No. 3. The piece's local debut on Friday was part of an ongoing Takacs commitment to the piece, which the quartet premiered in 1993. That reflects remarkable devotion, and the reason is obvious: The music grows out of the great string quartet tradition with unforced freshness and communicative imagination.
December 9, 2011 |
Intermission chatter at Wednesday's Christian Zacharias recital took on ominous tones when one sage pianophile observed, "He tends to take things to the extreme. " And what makes Zacharias one of the most fascinating elder-statesman keyboard personalities is that you never know which extreme he'll take. Or if you're going to like it. Possessed of effortless technique, decades of accumulated repertoire, huge intellect, and wide-ranging imagination, he has options. The first half of his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert at the Kimmel Center brought together C.P.E.
January 20, 2011 |
Pianist Mitsuko Uchida has been a singular object of audience adoration over the last 25 years - for more than the reasons that are immediately apparent. Yes, you had to love the way she exuberantly arrived on the Perelman Theater stage Tuesday, in colorful harem pants suggesting she was a recently escaped genie. Artistically, she's unshakably solid, often taking on repertoire step by step from Mozart to Schubert to Beethoven. Her analytic powers yield extraordinarily communicative performances of Schoenberg and Berg.
October 22, 2011 |
If anybody needed convincing that Lang Lang isn't just a pianist with hot fingers, cool clothes, and lots of self-promotion, positive proof came in both concertos he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra this week at Verizon Hall. Played on Thursday, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 will also be heard by the masses at his Saturday concert and cinemacast with the orchestra, as well as at the Monday repeat screening. Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 was reserved for the live-only audience on Friday at the Kimmel Center and for Tuesday, when he and the orchestra play Carnegie Hall.
January 14, 2012 |
The old belief that conductors don't become truly great until age 60 has wilted with so many emerging young talents whose intense magnetism leaves you unable to immediately say where they stand on the greatness continuum. The latest is Robin Ticciati, the 28-year-old British conductor who has ducked intense media glare with regional positions leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Touring Opera - while slowly making high-visibility debuts. The latest - with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he conducted at the Kimmel Center Thursday night in Beethoven's Violin Concerto , with soloist Arabella Steinbacher, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 - was a huge success with the audience.
April 15, 2001 |
A first meeting with pianist Charles Rosen can seem momentous. In books, essays and recordings, he's a huge presence, crystallizing stray musical thoughts with realizations that set lightbulbs flashing over your head. He can make you feel as if you've acquired some sixth musical sense. So, upon seeing him in a chaotic backstage situation where somebody says, "Here! Meet Charles Rosen," it's easy to blurt out "Thanks for changing my life!" Embarrassed, Rosen looked to the floor in that particular instance and didn't say much.
March 11, 2011 |
The very idea of a chamber music gala is almost comically incongruous. Tiaras? War medals? At the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society? I don't think so. The PCMS is celebrating its 25th anniversary because it's a refuge from surface gloss, artistic shortcuts, and greatest hits. There's no lite version. The only evidence of gala-ness at the Wednesday anniversary concert at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater was a few extra gray suits in the audience for a program that had more collaborative elements than usual, but was fairly representative of what usually happens here.
November 9, 2012 |
THE RAREFIED world of classical music is the setting and the intimate "perfect square" of a string quartet the crucible for "A Late Quartet," a melodrama of love, lust, betrayal and Beethoven. It's a quiet film of tempestuous but predictable situations and emotions, a soap opera made watchable by its illustrious cast. Christopher Walken is Peter, the wizened cellist whose early-onset Parkinson's disease throws the famed Fugue Quartet into turmoil. Twenty-five years and 3,000 recitals into their history, things are changing, because "playing for much longer is not in the cards for me. " The maneuvering starts in an instant.