August 4, 1996 |
Symphonie Fantastique is a great way to open a season. It's the apex of musical storytelling. It's the apex of musical autobiography: Berlioz's quest for his mortal beloved (Harriet Smithson) turned into a tonal nightmare. Woodwinds screech and violins are beaten with their own sticks during the finale, in which the beloved has become a murderous, sluttish shrew. Bassoons make a jumbled frenzied caricature of the once lovely tune with which the flute first defined her; basses work overtime; four sets of kettle drums bang out the climaxes.
February 12, 2003 |
Cassandra isn't really the kind of character you feel comfortable seeing wander around loose these days. In the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Les Troyens that opened Monday night, everyone's favorite panic queen, sung magnificently by Deborah Voigt, goes on about impending destruction against a backdrop that looks to be made of metal strips salvaged from the site of the World Trade Center. At one point, she asks: Do you hear the towers crashing down? War, already, has left its heavy scars on everyone and everything in sight.
July 2, 2011 |
There are two standards for judging Beatles covers. Does the new version do justice to the original? Or does it surpass it, or at least expand the way we hear the root version by extending it into uncharted territory? At the Mann Center on Thursday night, the Philadelphia Orchestra, along with a host of musical guests, passed the first test with aplomb. The second, far loftier mark, they passed only rarely, but then that's a standard that few in the history of recorded music have managed to meet.
October 23, 2011
Connecticut. Hogwarts Weekend in Branford, Oct. 29-30, evokes the magic of Harry Potter with visits to Ollivander's Wand Shop, classes with Hogwarts professors, and a night of magical mayhem at the Patrons, Potions, and Provisions Gala. $25 per person on Saturday; $125 per person for the gala. 203-488-1441; www.blackstonehalloween.org . Maine. Symphony Spooktacular in Portland, Oct. 30, 2:30 p.m., plays Halloween-themed orchestra music, such as Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette, Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, and Russell Peck's The Chill of the Orchestra, under conductor Robert Moody.
August 25, 2011 |
LUCERNE, Switzerland - This is one Philadelphia Orchestra tour that nobody - not the rank-and-file musicians, not the guest soloists, and certainly not the festivals presenting them - is taking for granted, particularly in this picture-postcard city inhabited by the musical gods. The long-planned 13-concert sweep through Europe's most prestigious festivals begins Thursday with the Grafenegg Music Festival outside Vienna, Austria, and ends Sept. 9 in Paris. While the tour was never said to have been in significant danger, everything has been open to question since the orchestra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.
July 11, 2006 |
IN A MOVE that could send tremors through the world of mystical religions, Madonna may soon become a lapsed Kabbalist. Where Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan will then turn for spiritual guidance is anyone's guess. But according to afp.com and Britain's The Independent, friends close to Madonna said she is tiring of Kabbalah, due to the financial and marital strain her support of the belief has caused. Kabbalah goes back to the 12th and 13th centuries and the writing of the Zohar.
April 22, 1991 |
Churches, historically, have been the setting for monumental musical events. Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church became that setting yesterday when Berlioz's Te Deum was performed by three choirs, the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, organ and soloists, all conducted by Jeffrey Brillhart. The music was imagined for huge forces, in the 19th-century image of grandeur, and this reverberant church argued for the music's suitability for transposition to late 20th century ideals. The orchestra, seated in front, was augmented with brass players and percussion to match the organ, which sounded from the back gallery.
January 13, 1996 |
At concerts in which this symphony is played, the distribution of this Programme to the audience is indispensable to the full understanding of the dramatic plan of the work. So wrote Hector Berlioz in a footnote to the programmatic explanation of his Symphonie Fantastique, his stirring landmark of the orchestral repertoire played Thursday night by the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor David Zinman. A condensed version of the "Programme" was included in the program notes for the concert, but so evocative is Berlioz's score that the notes were hardly necessary to sense a young musician's romantic and hallucinatory travels: to the ball, a jaunt through the meadow, a march to the scaffold, and to a funereal gathering of grotesque spirits.
May 9, 1987 |
Hector Berlioz is still making his way with modern audiences. Far ahead of his own time, he maintains a slight intellectual lead even on late 20th- century listeners. When the Philadelphia Orchestra played Berlioz yesterday at the Academy, its audience seemed to feel it was confronting some troubling new musical beliefs and psychological implications, musical matters that other composers have not raised. Riccardo Muti helped to raise them as he returned here to direct the orchestra after conducting at La Scala and Vienna.
March 30, 1986 |
Two traditions of musical theater will cross the screen this week as Channel 12 continues a series and a mind-set inspired by television. The second in the four-part series of Faust operas being produced by the Opera Company of Philadelphia will be seen at 2 p.m. today, and an hour of scenes from Spain's operetta theater, the zarzuela, will be seen at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Hector Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust was produced last spring at the Academy of Music. The imposing work stirred a mountain of controversy and raised again the question of whether it is an opera at all. It failed as opera when Berlioz pushed it on stage at the Paris Opera in 1846, but it has captivated audiences as a concert piece.