February 10, 2012 |
Somebody needed to program the orphans in Beethoven's output, and pianist Anton Kuerti was the one to do it at his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital Wednesday at the Kimmel Center. Never a glamour pianist, the 73-year-old Vienna-born, Canada-based Kuerti - his hair longer and wilder than ever - has been performing cycles of Beethoven sonatas for as far back as I can remember (40 years) and is a model of nonapologist performers. As majestic as Beethoven can be, his piano sonatas contain some of his most private music - cranky, quirky, and not always clear in what it has to say, especially pieces published not in a litter, but by themselves, without catchy subtitles or nicknames.
January 22, 2012
Sunday The quiet earth In Kenneth Lin's drama Fallow , an upper-class mother finds a packet of unsent letters from her son, who gave up the Ivy League life to become a migrant worker and beekeeper, and travels to rural California to confront the imprisoned men who killed him in a case of mistaken identity. As she reads, the events that led to the violence unfold. The play goes on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at the People's Light & Theatre Company , 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, and continues on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule to Feb. 5. Tickets are $25 to $45. Call 610-644-3500.
January 21, 2012 |
In an age that seems perpetually restless, where silence for some is an unnatural state of being, everyone deserves to experience the peace that arrived Thursday night in the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 . Nothing in the evening's beginning pointed to such a lovely destination. The recorded announcement reminded Verizon Hall patrons to silence their electronic pacifiers. Philadelphia Orchestra guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt mounted the podium, and a cushion of quiet gathered around him. In the split second before the downbeat, a Latin-beat cellphone ring broke the moment.
January 16, 2012 |
The first thing anybody needs to know about Ludwig Live! is that the cabaret show, playing at the Kimmel Center's Innovation Studio, has little to do with Beethoven or even having laughs at his expense. Using tired devices such as the clash of high and low art, Ludwig Live! , which opened Friday, explores how intentionally ramshackle showbiz somehow holds the stage. The concept is that cranky old Beethoven - played by Charles Lindberg, in the cheapest wig imaginable - is somehow back from the dead and taking his story on the road with a troupe of actors.
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.
January 10, 2012 |
If you missed the introductory speeches, the Ching-Yun Hu piano recital Saturday at the William Way Center seemed so at home as to be a typical occurrence rather than the first in a new series of fine arts events. The program, held in the grand reception era of the pre-Civil War building at 1315 Spruce St. that once housed the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia, was smart and ambitious. The full-house audience knew what it was hearing, and the demographics were fairly close to, say, an Astral Artists event, though with more same-sex couples, as one might expect at Philadelphia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center.
January 9, 2012 |
Now in the 11th year of its sometimes existence, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra arrived for its annual tour with a strong sense of what's necessary to keep this high-spirited bunch in a state of optimal engagement. The 18-member conductor-less group consists of musicians who have other activities (Time for Three member Nick Kendall, for one) and so aren't about to converge for another Pachelbel's Canon . Friday's concert at the Independence Seaport Museum was a tortured but singular program that fully tapped the group's resources but was not ideal for workweek-weary subscribers of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
January 7, 2012 |
Nobody should program Beethoven's perpetually overexposed Symphony No. 5 without sound reasons. But the Philadelphia Orchestra's guest conductor David Zinman has a claim on doing so, if only on the strength of his famous recordings with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich that have sold more than 1 million discs and showed the world how far a modern-instrument orchestra can go in approximating the manner and sound of period instruments. But the underlying brilliance of Zinman's Philadelphia Orchestra concert Friday was how he framed the symphony.
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.
December 6, 2011 |
Were there a classical-music Mount Rushmore, Brahms would be as unreachably etched in stone as Bach and Beethoven. That vision of untouchable monumentality, however, wasn't supported by Saturday's Philadelphia Brahms Festival, which explored early works and lesser-known antecedents that gave the composer flesh, blood, and ancestry. Brahms might not have liked that. Modern musicians rage at him for destroying so many works of his that he considered substandard. He also revised published works later in life, contributing to the idea that he sprang upon the world fully formed.