July 12, 2011 |
If ever a Mann Center concert promised to die at the box office, it was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's all-Beethoven program Saturday night. Straight classics without fireworks have had only intermittent success at this populist venue - and always on weeknights, when great weather at the Shore won't get in the way. Yet the inside seating on Saturday was nearly full. And Itzhak Perlman wasn't even on the premises. As much as I welcome any visit from the fine Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the key players were unknowns: 18-year-old pianist Teo Gheorghiu, a Gary Graffman student at the Curtis Institute, and conductor Arild Remmereit, a Norwegian conductor whose chief U.S. credit is his recent appointment to the Rochester, N.Y., Philharmonic Orchestra.
May 21, 2011 |
Some music is too much itself to share the stage comfortably with anything else. Two such works, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 , met at Verizon Hall during Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra concert, stared each other down, and retreated to their respective spheres without complementing each other in the least. In this cheek-by-jowl era when half your life is mushed into your iPhone, maybe life and art don't need to hang out together. The two pieces stood well enough on their own, thanks to good-to-excellent performances, but without the qualities that might flatter each other, the pieces seemed more strange than usual, as well as vulnerable to less-than-admiring scrutiny.
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.
March 10, 2011 |
The idea keeps catching on - even if audiences are still catching up. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is preparing for its second live movie-theater simulcast on Sunday - only a week after Carmen in 3-D leapt from London's Royal Opera and a few weeks before the English National Opera's 3-D Lucrezia Borgia arrives on DirecTV. More quietly, the Philadelphia Orchestra continues on an alternate route, eschewing satellite technology for the Internet in the seventh of a series of nine simulcasts March 20. The music world can't help but be dazzled by the Metropolitan Opera's recently released simulcast numbers: The nine transmissions in the 2009-10 season sold 2.4 million tickets, grossed $48 million, and eventually made a net profit of $8 million for the opera company.
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 21, 2011 |
Somebody in Verizon Hall tried to make Vladimir Jurowski shut up on Friday - and failed. One of the Philadelphia Orchestra's favorite guest conductors (among musicians and audiences), Jurowski was giving a preperformance explication of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 that was going on a bit longer than usual. Then from the hall, somebody began applauding, as if to say, "That's enough. " Coolly, the conductor explained why these matters are important, and assured the heckler, "The symphony is short.
February 12, 2011 |
Michael Tilson Thomas plays an orchestra like a piano. He expresses himself with that kind of freedom. That he could do this Thursday with the Philadelphia Orchestra wasn't a given. And in fact, for the first few moments of his current program it wasn't clear whether a singular artistic vision, born of trust between conductor and ensemble, was in the offing. But by the end of the program, in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 , the depth of the partnership was striking. This orchestra hasn't always seen eye to eye with the boy wonder.
January 27, 2011 |
A fleet, stealthy entrance. Then thunder. An unexpected shiver gives way to a warm gust. Salvation? No. Back into the abyss. Beethoven is the author of that emotional schematic - only the first two eventful minutes of his Piano Sonata in F minor (Op. 57), the "Appassionata. " But Jonathan Biss intensified it to a remarkable degree, giving him total ownership of the emotional centerpiece of his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Perelman Theater Tuesday night. His concert - the Chamber Music Society's 1,000th since its founding 25 seasons ago - was thrilling, which was comforting in more ways than one. Biss, 30, has a career shifting into gear with commercial recordings, high-prestige appearances, and a recent appointment to the faculty of his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music.
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.
November 3, 2010 |
Past visits by pianist Piotr Anderszewski have inspired nothing but admiration for his risky repertoire choices - namely, the great but neglected Karol Szymanowski - but left you wanting to hear his artistry applied to more mainstream stuff. On his return Monday to the Kimmel Center with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he delivered two superbly rendered Mozart piano concertos - one of his longtime specialties - in a great occasion that lived up to high expectations. Anderszewski speaks Mozart's language with his own kind of elegance, which is born out of Mozart's Baroque-period predecessors, rather than looking back from Beethoven.