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.
May 4, 2013 |
Beethoven's cello sonatas are not often done as a complete, chronological cycle: They run too long for a single concert, but not long enough to fill two concerts without adding some of the composer's non-sonata cello works, diluting the sense of progression in his musical thought. When performed in close to optimum, single-concert circumstances by cellist Efe Baltacigil and pianist Benjamin Hochman on Thursday at the American Philosophical Society, the sonatas came off as a motley collection - verbose in the early works, oblique in the later ones, and with a clear-cut masterpiece in the middle, the Cello Sonata No. 3 (Op. 69 )
April 8, 2013 |
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia migrated for the first time in its own subscription series Sunday from its usual Perelman Theater quarters to the larger Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, and with good reason: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 . It's a piece that needs more room. Also significant, conductor laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn (a much-seasoned Beethovenian) returned to conduct a smaller-scale, gently provocative performance that reminded you how seldom the composer's grandest symphony is heard with fine nuances.
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 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.
November 5, 2012 |
Handily established among the best chamber music groups of its generation, the Belcea Quartet has immersed itself in Beethoven over the last year, and through that composer, it has found a voice that ensures its place in musical posterity. Though the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society often feels like an ongoing Beethoven string quartet festival, Belcea's program Friday of the composer's demanding late works stood among the best, in a lucky afterthought to the society's season. The Prazak Quartet was originally scheduled to play Friday at the Independence Seaport Museum but had to cancel its tour due to illness.
August 8, 2012 |
NEW YORK - From the looks of the video billboards lining 65th Street here, Yannick Nézet-Séguin might as well have been running for office, so relentlessly did his picture flash between advertisements for War Horse and other Lincoln Center events last weekend. The occasion was a series of appearances at the Mostly Mozart Festival in which the music director designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra alternated between two ensembles in programs that not only were substantial but also contained repertoire that could have been a problem - or even an Achilles' heel.
June 29, 2012 |
Perfect weather. A terrific Beethoven 9th by the Philadelphia Orchestra. What more does one need in life? Though any number of the orchestra's season openers at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts have been perfectly pleasant, Wednesday's was one to remember with the debut of Chinese conductor Xian Zhang, who proves that authority need not be contingent on gender, nationality, or physical stature. My limited exposure to the diminutive Zhang, who rose through the ranks of the New York Philharmonic's conducting staff before the increasingly international career that she has now, suggests that she is a fundamentally reflective musician, looking beyond the flashy animal energy of a Tchaikovsky symphony for the entrancing complications underneath.
June 27, 2012 |
At the Mann Center, where rehearsal time for Philadelphia Orchestra concerts sometimes is frustratingly short, evidence of guest conductors' putting a personal imprint on repertoire can be elusive. The challenge multiplies in works so popular that a large percentage of the audience can whistle the start of the development section. Individuality, though, promises to shine through standard repertoire in the first-of-the-summer Mann orchestral concerts. Xian Zhang, the young Chinese American conductor now based in Milan, leads the Philadelphia Orchestra Wednesday night in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor.
March 4, 2012
Sunday Out of the past With each day, the world of John Steinbeck's Depression-era drama Of Mice and Men seems less remote. This tale of desperate men trying to find small comforts amid crushing economic pressure goes on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at People's Light & Theatre , 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern, and continues with shows on a varied schedule to March 25. Tickets are $25 to $45. Call 610-644-3500. . . . Terry Burrell wrote and stars in Ethel! about the life of the blues singer and actress Ethel Waters, who escaped a tough childhood in Chester only to endure hard times as she made her way in show business.