June 20, 2009 |
'Fortunately, the hall is solid . . . it can stand the strain. " So reads the caption to a Hector Berlioz cartoon showing the composer conducting an array of hardware appropriate to battle as well as music, probably inspired by the Requiem that left Verizon Hall wowed but unrattled in the Thursday finale of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Kimmel Center season. Brass choirs were positioned at four corners of the hall for the famous musical apocalypse that Berlioz envisioned. Later, tenor Paul Groves sang from the hall's upper rafters; the effect was celestial.
November 13, 2003 |
The Philadelphia Singers are such a victim of their own usefulness, you can forget how good they are. The group's distinction as Philadelphia's best chorus isn't salient, given the state of the competition. Also, its assets aren't easy to appreciate when, as Philadelphia Orchestra resident chorus, it's assigned to navigate contemporary works by August Read Thomas or apply its vocal robustness to the intentionally pale scoring in Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. One size does fit all, practically speaking, but the group is too seldom matched with suitable repertoire.
May 8, 1987 |
When the Philadelphia Orchestra performs Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Funebre et Triomphale" the concerts will include an instrument called the Turkish Crescent, or "Jingling Johnny. " The instrument is so rare that principal percussionist Michael Bookspan, above, had to build one of his own. Performances are at the Academy of Music at 2 p.m. today and 8:30 p.m. tomorrow.
June 20, 1987 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra presented a brief but unusually colorful program under Charles Dutoit at the Mann Music Center last night. The "color" of course was instrumental color, as displayed in Haydn's Sinfonia concertante and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. As heard at the Mann Center, Haydn's Sinfonia concertante raised many perennial issues of outdoor performance - as well as a tricky point of period playing style. Haydn conceived this music for an orchestra maybe two-thirds the size of the one on the Mann stage; but no one - certainly not Haydn - would have advocated such slim forces for open-air use. An augmented ensemble is certainly appropriate, but any conductor of Haydn's day would have increased the winds, as well as the strings, to preserve the intended balances.
January 11, 1986 |
The Atlanta Symphony and the Chicago Symphony jostled for dominance Thursday as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced its classical-music Grammy Award nominations. Those nominations - Atlanta received 10; Chicago, six - continued a long-standing trend that favors orchestral music with singing, or orchestral music of larger-than-usual proportions. Notably absent from the nominations were recordings reflecting the high interest in baroque performance on original instruments, a field in which numerous high-quality performances were recorded last year.
December 8, 2013 |
Who was that traditionalist on the podium Thursday night? No piece of music plays itself. But Michael Tilson Thomas, guest-conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall, was content to let the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique unfold within the narrow bounds of standard interpretation. At 68, Tilson Thomas executed some wonderfully balletic moves, though their musical benefit was, at best, hazy. As an artistic statement, this could have come from any number of competent conductors.
February 2, 2002 |
That orchestra playing Thursday night in Verizon Hall? The faces were familiar, but I couldn't place the sound. Roger Norrington has a way of doing that. The early-music alchemist has visited just about every orchestra in the world, willing his period-appropriate sound concept upon previously recalcitrant adherents of lush, 20th-century orchestral splendor. Somehow, he hadn't managed to guest-conduct the most splendid of them all, the Philadelphia Orchestra, until now, and while on paper the program - Berlioz and Beethoven, to be repeated tonight - might look run-of-the-mill, it was, in practice, a shattering revelation.
November 13, 1987 |
The London Philharmonic's visits here are unfortunately infrequent, for the orchestra travels with a tradition of notable playing and exalted conducting. The ensemble played last night at the Academy of Music, but circumstance had put the orchestra in the position of having left at home the conducting that had customarily gilded its name. Klaus Tennstedt, now conductor laureate, had intended to lead this tour, but his health prevented it. Semyon Bychkov, Buffalo Philharmonic conductor and now conductor designate of the Orchestre de Paris, has stepped in, but the relation of conductor with orchestra was still tentative, and the results were uniformly dull.
January 18, 1988 |
The stage was set on Saturday night for one of Relache's heavy, arcane and, above all, serious concerts of new music. The members of the small audience nodded knowingly to one another, the stage was spartan and draped in black, the lights were dim and the director of the small contemporary-music ensemble bustled around the stage, looking grim. But High Wit instead of High Art characterized Relache's season opener at Drexel University's Mandell Theater. When the lights went up, a soprano soloist proceeded to growl and spit at the audience in The Seven Plagues, by Yugoslavian composer Milko Keleman.
June 30, 2007 |
Composer Hector Berlioz signified many things, but on Thursday at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, he was the patron saint of young conductors. The artist in question was Ludovic Morlot, the young associate conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who is accumulating prestigious debuts, among them his first outing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Berlioz overture, Le Corsaire , with its long opening string flourishes, seizes your attention dramatically - at least when well played - and assures you that you're not likely to forget the visual image of the conductor making it happen.