June 19, 1996 |
It's almost traditional that thunder, lightning and rain accompany the opening of the Philadelphia Orchestra's season at the Mann Music Center. So it was Monday that rumbles, flashes and a deluge provided the background to a program of Mendelssohn and Berlioz as the orchestra launched its 67th season in Fairmount Park. Opening nights are designed for festivity, but the weather seemed to be a reminder of the difficulties looming over the season. Vanishing city aid and the orchestra's own financial woes seemed to be expressed in the cloud layer just above the theater.
November 16, 1990 |
Rachmaninoff and the Philadelphia Orchestra were once a pairing that seemed inseparable and eternal. The composer-pianist said he heard this orchestra when he set notes on paper, and the orchestra, two generations ago, blossomed as the ideal interpreter of those amply full romantic works. The passage of time and the resurgence of classical and pre-classical music have made the romantic gesture difficult for players and conductors. There is almost a sense of embarrassment about Rachmaninoff's aesthetic, now. It does sound a half-century out of time, but whether that is a half-century late or a half-century early remains to be seen.
June 18, 1992 |
It seems everyone in the orchestra gets a chance to play the two-note motive that ricochets from one section to another in Ellen Taafe Zwillich's Celebration (1984), played last night at the Mann Music Center by the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor John Nelson. Flutes, horns, muted trumpets, timpani - they all get a shot at the motive, which is set amid a brilliantly colored bed of orchestration. Considered by itself, the upward moving gesture contains great energy, and when repeated as it is, builds a kind of momentum that begs for an answer.
March 14, 1986 |
This column usually urges readers to get out to the most rewarding concert offerings, but the upcoming lineup of PBS telecasts (WHYY-TV, Channel 12) instead should make you reserve the easy chair and stockpile some videotapes. Here's the calendar of goodies: Sunday, 8 p.m. (4 hrs. plus) "PBS Gala. " The traditional final evening of fund-raising breaks, with Beverly Sills hosting a trip to Vienna complete with a final tour of palaces and homes of the composers. James Levine conducts the Vienna Philharmonic with a wealth of vocal talent: sopranos Mirella Freni, Kathleen Battle, Edita Gruberova, Hulia Migenes-Johnson, Margaret Price, Leonie Rysanek and Eliszbeth Soederstroem, mezzos Christa Ludwig and Agnes Baltsa, tenors Alfredo Kraus and Francisco Araiza, and baritones Hermann Prey, Leo Nucci, and Bernd Weikl.
September 1, 2011
"Whatever financial woes the cash-strapped Philadelphia Orchestra might be having at home, they gave a super performance . . . that glittered and sparkled from beginning to end. . . . This phenomenal orchestra produces a well-balanced sound, seemingly effortlessly. " - Susan Nickalls, Edinburgh Daily News, Aug. 31 " . . . in Lucerne, one could hear precisely which areas Dutoit had worked on with the orchestra and which he had not. . . . Piano Concerto No. 2]
September 4, 2011 |
BERLIN - Is the continent big enough for both of them? The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, on overlapping tours of European festivals, crossed paths (almost) at the Dresdner Musikfestpiele, the former performing Friday, the latter arriving Saturday. And it was not for the first time: In the Zurich airport roughly a week ago, the Philadelphians were lined up to leave as the Chicagoans were arriving - on the same chartered plane. Looking over the two tours, one cannot help asking who got what.
September 19, 1992 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra, which has responded with such alacrity to cues from music-director designate Wolfgang Sawallisch, can be disappointingly lifeless under conductors of lesser abilities and authority. I was seized by that sense of disappointment as Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducted Wagner, Prokofiev and Berlioz in the orchestra's first subscription concert of the season Thursday at the Academy of Music. I respect Maestro Skrowaczewski, whose long and substantial career has often included gracious guest stints with the Philadelphians.
February 20, 1987 |
The two-character play Duet for One is intimate chamber music. In the face of crippling multiple sclerosis, a violin virtuoso plucks her heartstrings while her analyst, a bassist type, soberly backs her up. The film version is pure honky-tonk. This is no life-affirming movie about an afflicted woman who recognizes that there are things more important than music, but rather an occasion to witness the previously hidden histrionics of Julie Andrews, who plays the violinist. See the virtuoso turn viper!
July 5, 2002 |
JoAnn Falletta made smart connections among the American works of her program on a sweltering Wednesday night at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Leading the Philadelphia Orchestra, she showed how American melody - tunes, even - follow a thread from Gottschalk to Gershwin to Bernstein. All right, maybe it was hard to hear how John Williams' "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" fit in. Its big swagger was a long way from the jazz and Latin influences of the other works. But it does make for a wonderfully noisy curtain-raiser, and Falletta met it head-on with her own big swagger.