February 27, 2013 |
Bad ideas can be less intimidating than brilliant ones: Beethoven's Choral Fantasy , for example, is one of the composer's more ramshackle works. Yet the Mendelssohn Club commissioned local composer Jeremy Gill to write a companion piece to it. As if we needed another? But without a masterpiece as competition, Gill seemed creatively liberated in Before the Wresting Tides , which premiered Saturday at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, and showed him claiming his artistic identity beneath Beethoven's furrowed brow.
October 5, 1998 |
For Karl Middleman, context is almost everything. The conductor of the Philadelphia Classical Symphony uses his concerts to explain the settings, the composer's life and times, and the plan behind the music. The orchestra plays examples to illustrate all that, and the stage is fronted by artwork to help the audience understand the period. On Saturday, Middleman took on Beethoven, mixing 100 minutes of music with 60 of commentary. Concerts were marathons in Beethoven's day, and the search for authenticity now may require programs of comparable length.
May 19, 1996 |
How do you get an audience to Suntory Hall? Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven. The composer who helped the Philadelphia Orchestra fill seats at the Academy of Music this season is doing the trick in Tokyo, too. And it's a good thing. Japanese presenters, like their American counterparts, are feeling the pinch of dwindling audiences. The economy here is not what it once was, and, when the Philadelphians last visited Suntory Hall, in 1993, musicians remember looking out onto empty seats.
May 12, 1996 |
On this, the eve of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Asian tour, music has never seemed a more tantalizing tonic. The Fabulous Philadelphians continue to be their fabulous selves, as critical notices of recordings and concerts confirm. But matters extra-musical absorb the group's front office. A nagging deficit, a stumbling concert-hall project, a sexual-harassment controversy surrounding a recent hire, abandonment by the city's largest philanthropy and other troubles have sapped energies that might otherwise be spent on furthering the orchestra's raison d'etre - making music.
May 5, 1996 |
Beethoven's music seems to be everywhere. It's as if the music world decided this was the year to repay any neglect the composer might have suffered anywhere, anytime. Nowhere in America has Beethoven been embraced with the ferocity of Philadelphia's bear hug. At the Academy of Music, in the hands of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with the help of lots of marketing and advertising, he fills the house - the first time in several years the auditorium is consistently sold out. His passion and musical accessibility attract new audiences, but it's his brooding, romantic persona - the way he combines the melody of the classical era with the intensity of the romantic era - that makes them come back.
May 2, 1996 |
The flood of Beethoven this spring will have given audiences a chance to rethink the composer's choral music, a neglected part of his catalog. The Philadelphia Singers performed the Mass in C on Tuesday, a week before the Philadelphia Orchestra is to perform the Choral Fantasy. Both pieces have been traditionally discounted as second-rate Haydn, but that was not the impression given by David Hayes, who conducted the Mass at the Academy of Music. He stressed the symphonic nature of the writing, its very un-Haydnesque movement of tonalities and the ingenuity of the writing.
January 28, 1996 |
The orchestra's season, in the last 20 years or so, has changed its shape and shifted its weight to reflect the presence of the music director. The pattern is that the music director opens the season, spends a month, then returns to Europe. He returns in January for another month, then rejoins the orchestra for a month's finale in mid-spring before taking the musicians on tour. It is those separate months of music that reveal what the season is about and fill in details in the evolving portrait of the music director in Philadelphia.
September 21, 1995 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra opened its 96th season Tuesday - its players, conductor and repertoire filling the flower-laden Academy of Music with swirling images and signals of new directions and old traditions, dynamism and stasis. Wolfgang Sawallisch, himself a symbol of durable energy and curatorial solidity, was on the podium to begin his third season as music director. Unlike other years in his reign, he was returning to his orchestra after only a brief separation, for he last conducted the ensemble Sept.
September 17, 1995 |
This musical season can be summed up in one word: Beethoven. His music will be everywhere. The Philadelphia Orchestra, which sets the tone for musical performance in the city, will feature all the symphonies, the Choral Fantasy, two concertos and the Leonore Overture No. 3 - and then take them to Japan in the spring. The New Jersey Symphony will echo that programming with three symphonies, four concertos, Beethoven's music for Goethe's Egmont and assorted overtures. Chamber music groups, too, will diligently survey the Beethoven catalog.
February 1, 1995 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra will play Beethoven next season - performing all nine symphonies and other works in a festival format, then taking the music to Japan in May. This will mark the first time the orchestra has performed all nine symphonies in a season in almost 60 years. Details of the orchestra's 96th season were announced yesterday at the Academy of Music by music director Wolfgang Sawallisch. He spoke in a setting designed to look like 18th-century Vienna, in which costumed pianist Davyd Booth, dressed as Beethoven, played.