February 23, 2014 |
The cost of war was palpable in the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday program of Strauss, Shostakovich, and Beethoven, one of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's most conceptually formidable and musically resourceful concerts. At this point in history, few of the musicians onstage have firsthand experience of the tragedies portrayed in Shostakovich's 1959 Cello Concerto No. 1 - a significant deterrent to tapping the music's fierce subtext about post-Stalin Russia. Nonetheless, the performance was bursting with empathy, the most audible manifestation being the extended cadenza in which cellist Johannes Moser (replacing Truls Mørk)
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.
November 27, 2011 |
Anne Lisette Boysen, 72, of Germantown, an artist, died of ovarian cancer Tuesday, Nov. 15, at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse. Ms. Boysen's colorful paintings in oil, acrylic, and mixed media ranged in style from impressionistic landscapes to abstract florals. On her website, she wrote that she was "compelled" to paint. "Painting is my life, my work, and my fun. . . . When I camp, walk and bicycle, I can't help but feel inspired to continue the landscapes, and when my flowers bloom, feel inspired to do the florals.
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.
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.
April 24, 2009 |
In the tunnel of a Los Angeles freeway underpass, a bruised man crouches before a grubby street musician who coaxes ecstatic chords from a cello. Beethoven reverberates up from ground level, soaring above the gridlock and grime. Two birds, stand-ins for the soloist and his audience of one, ride the sound waves up to the clouds, spirits spiring. If only every sequence in The Soloist were that transcendent. Joe Wright's adaptation of the book by columnist Steve Lopez, about the newsman's encounters with Nathaniel Ayers, Juilliard-trained virtuoso sawing his instrument near L.A.'s Skid Row, is as flawed and fascinating as the men themselves.