March 23, 2015 |
THE MUSIC THAW is upon us, as tour buses dig out and get back on the road. Honestly, there's so much to see and hear that these picks are just icing on the cake - but at least not on the roads. We're excited about the intimate next coming of Lauryn Hill, the passionate and most unpredictable of neo-soul chanteuses. At another extreme, we're left to ponder whether Taylor Swift has the stage moves to reach and captivate a stadium full of fans (let alone two stadiums full). Pink and Katy Perry she hasn't been, but, come on, girl, surprise us. Ben Folds' three-day/three-venue residency is a clever idea.
February 21, 2015 |
Lars Vogt was well on his way to making a significant solo recital debut Wednesday at the American Philosophical Society when Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32 Op. 111 started coming unraveled. Problems began in the dense, first-movement exposition, when a memory lapse set in, one that Vogt covered skillfully, but starting a spiral that eventually forced him to start over and ultimately leave the stage to grab the printed music. Even more unfortunately, the music stand on the piano had been removed, making page turns awkward.
February 19, 2015 |
XOXO, Leighton Meester. What fan of your acting - especially enduring as Blair Waldorf on the long-running CW series "Gossip Girl" - wouldn't want to attend your musical coming-out party at the Trocadero tomorrow? (Details at thetroc.com .) "It's great if people are interested in seeing me, for whatever reason," Meester shared in a recent chat. "This isn't acting - it's the real me. The songs are autobiographical. This is my taste and my life. " Meester never sang on "GG," though a few of the tarty teen/dance pop ditties she recorded for Universal Records (circa 2009-11)
February 15, 2015 |
Conductor Valery Gergiev probably had one of the more civilized receptions of his winter U.S. tour at Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra concert. Pro-Ukrainian protesters were outside the Kimmel Center, having their say in the ongoing debate about Gergiev's support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and inside, the concert was business as usual - as much as Gergiev's concerts are ever typical. He has long been the master of spontaneous combustion. Although Gergiev's own Mariinsky Orchestra often plays with world-class inspiration, it's sonically compromised by the substandard quality of instruments.
February 3, 2015 |
With each album since 1999's Monday Morning Cold , Erin McKeown has crafted folk music with a twist. Her genre-jumping sounds increasingly have been enriched by country swing, Dixieland, conjunto, and bossa nova arrangements. And on 2013's Manifestra , her smartly lyrical songs had new, stronger political content. McKeown's is an elegant yet aggressive conversational voice, with a passion and poise that truly stood out during her packed-tight night at the Tin Angel on Friday.
February 3, 2015 |
Comedian Hannibal Buress deserved to sell out the Music Box at Atlantic City's Borgata on Saturday - just on the merits of his sharply incisive talents. Anyone making topics such as toilet paper, racist babies, and sports heroes on steroids ("Thank you for ruining your long-term health for our short-term entertainment") funny should be celebrated. But face it: Buress owes much to Bill Cosby. Before Oct. 16, Buress was a silly, observational stand-up known mostly for acting bits on 30 Rock and Comedy Central fare like Broad City . At September's end, I caught Buress opening for Aziz Ansari at the Wells Fargo Center with Seinfeld-ian parking shtick: Cranky stuff, but nothing innovative or memorable.
January 27, 2015 |
One of the most startling moments at Saturday night's Academy of Music 158th Anniversary Concert was hearing the Philadelphia Orchestra in an important, rarely heard William Walton score. That may seem like the sort of thing that shouldn't surprise. It's an orchestra concert, after all. But this annual fund-raiser has had so many demands layered on it in recent years - celebrate the building, bring in a younger crowd, keep the old guard happy, hold the attention of a rather corporate audience, and raise a lot of money - that the orchestra has sometimes gotten lost in the shuffle.
January 26, 2015 |
When it comes to big-name albums, it's becoming rare for release dates to be announced much in advance. The element of surprise is a big bonus, and social media spread the word like wildfire. So, rather then tell us ahead of time, everybody's trying to keep a secret, then spring it on us for maximum promotional value, Beyoncé-style. So, along with the three to-be-announced releases by Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill listed below, a whole lot of other marquee releases expected in early 2015 have no specified arrival dates.
January 16, 2015 |
On a subfreezing night with an untested concert format, is it any surprise that the Philadelphia Orchestra's first LiveNote Night, designed to attract new audiences to classical music, was preaching to the semi-converted on Wednesday at the Kimmel Center? The event represented a confluence of past seasons' "Beyond the Score" concerts (earlier, shorter, instructively oriented) and the pop-up performance scheduled spontaneously in 2013 when the orchestra's Carnegie Hall date was canceled by a stagehands strike.
December 24, 2014 |
Candles burned on every windowsill. Lights on the large, elegant holiday tree were on a dimmer that was adjusted to suit the manner of the music. So at the Crossing@Christmas concert Friday at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, there was a glow of the familiar in a program that was anything but. Holiday concerts are not occasions for surprise. Yet middling ones arrived via the side door both here and in two versions of Handel's Messiah that showed what different experiences that overfamiliar masterwork can be. The Brandywine Singers and Tempesta di Mare chose the infrequently heard Dublin version Saturday with no conductor at all, while the Philadelphia Orchestra's Sunday Messiah had guest conductor Matthew Halls from the front lines of England's ever-evolving early-music scene.