February 9, 1991 |
Henri Dutilleux, born in 1916, works slowly and with exceeding self- scrutiny to refine a score. Within his small, exquisitely crafted output is the 1970 cello concerto Tout un monde lontain, which Lynn Harrell and the Philadelphia Orchestra interpreted with grace and agility yesterday afternoon under Charles Dutoit at the Academy of Music. Like his Violin Concerto and Metaboles, Dutilleux's cello concerto shares with Debussy an elusivity of time, harmony or timbre that lends itself easefully to reverie.
October 22, 2014 |
With Vivaldi's music claimed by baroque-performance specialists in recent years, does that mean we have to wait for one of them if we're going to hear his many concertos outside of recordings? Though she's clearly a generalist, cellist Hai-Ye Ni stepped up as guest soloist and leader of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in a five-concerto baroque-to-classical program with nothing not to like anywhere. It was a chronological journey that cut a path from Vivaldi to Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major - a great idea, since listeners so easily take genial Haydn for granted, and this concert showed from whence he came.
February 26, 1999 |
It wasn't the particular shape of his left hand or the stretch between his fingers that destined Stephen Isserlis to play the cello. "You see, my father is a violinist, my mother a pianist, my sisters play viola and violin, so cello was the needed instrument," he says, laughing. Critics continue to credit destiny, for the London-born Isserlis has claimed a growing niche in the music world as an explorer and a musician willing to take chances. He is playing his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music this weekend, performing a less-than-traditional work, Shostakovich's Concerto No. 1, with English conductor Mark Wigglesworth.
March 6, 2013 |
The concerto tends to be a heroic medium, with an esteemed virtuoso pitted against an army of orchestral musicians, both vying for musical foreground. How unusual it was, then, to encounter two new ones - Jonathan Leshnoff's Cello Concerto on Monday with Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Paul Moravec's Violin Concerto on Friday with Symphony in C - that act like conscientious objectors to that romantic-era tradition, and do so with great artistic resourcefulness. Noncompetitive concertos are nothing new, but can pose substantial continuity problems because they lack an obvious musical argument (the Korngold concertos, for example, get by on surface beauty)
November 19, 2012 |
CAMDEN - Post-World War II Germany no doubt needed a good rumba, but who would have thought the furrow-browed modernist composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970) would be the one to provide it? His 1950 Violin Concerto was heard in an extremely rare outing thanks to violinist Leila Josefowicz and Symphony in C under Rossen Milanov on Saturday in the sort of performance that showed how easily worthwhile works get lost. Compared to the composer's great but grim, fiercely atonal opera Die Soldaten , the Violin Concerto is an easily apprehendable, midweight piece with the clarity of intent and rhythmic energy of Prokofiev.
March 18, 2015 |
PRINCETON - The quiet timpani rumble that opens Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 always seizes one's ears as the clarinet solo seemingly wanders into Nordic parts unknown. That passage had a special charge at Princeton Symphony Orchestra's Sunday concert at Richardson Auditorium, like an unsettling precursor to an earthquake. Speaking volumes with such precise, well-molded sound indicated how far this orchestra has come under music director Rossen Milanov. Playing well is one thing, but the orchestra now has an immediately noticeable collective personality.
September 25, 2013 |
Though Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra has been such a constant presence in Philadelphia Orchestra programs from the 1940s on, one easily forgets what a steep challenge it can be for musicians playing it for the first time - no doubt the case with many Symphony in C members who credibly and sometimes thrillingly took on the piece in Camden Saturday. Written on borrowed time when the composer was fatally ill and thought his composing life was over, the Concerto for Orchestra lives up to its title by challenging every corner of the symphony orchestra, but in ways so consolidated and distilled that virtuoso flourishes are few, hiding places even fewer.
December 7, 2014 |
French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras might have initially looked like a rerun: He played Haydn's mid-weight Cello Concerto in C in 2008 with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, even though an artist of his stature warrants a rather more grand musical platform. Or so it seemed until he actually played, reprising the concerto Thursday with the Philadelphia Orchestra. One of Europe's top cellists, Queyras makes this infrequent U.S. appearance on the heels of a memorable collaboration abroad with music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who wanted to repeat the experience for Philadelphia.
May 10, 2015 |
At what point does music become more of a tourist experience than art? Philadelphia Orchestra conductor-in-residence Cristian Macelaru walked all over such not-so-fine lines on Thursday at the Kimmel Center in a winningly idiosyncratic program bookended by two travelogues in sound from his native Romania - with folk elements cleaned and polished to a high gloss. Such music - Ligeti's Romanian Concerto and Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody Op. 11 No. 1 - can be a point of pride or a source of embarrassment to those who know the less-mediated roots of it all. But Macelaru had a whale of a time, also using these crowd-pleasing pieces for a more serious examination of great composers on the cusp of greatness with Dvorák's Violin Concerto featuring Sarah Chang, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 . Nothing trivial about that.
October 12, 2002 |
Few music capitals await a Robert Schumann festival - such as that which opened last night at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts - as eagerly as this one has, and this is not, emphatically not, to be mistaken for another local peculiarity. Philadelphia Orchestra music director Wolfgang Sawallisch arrived here a decade ago with a generalist's mastery of most things and a few key specialties, including the ever-problematic symphonies of Schumann. Though Sawallisch can be breathtakingly dismissive about his own discography, his Schumann recordings are exempt from this self-damnation.