September 30, 2006 |
The theater world has an axiom that any given play grows longer in larger performing spaces. Clarice Assad's new Violin Concerto strangely went in the opposite direction: Though its 22-minute duration feels expansive on compact disc at home, the concerto seemed much shorter Thursday at the Kimmel Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Maybe that's because you wanted more of it. This first major concert work by the 28-year-old jazz-steeped Assad is high on lyricism and charm, not so high on the kind of thematic development that could explore more aspects of her melodic inspiration.
September 28, 2006 |
Concertos can arise at such unlikely times and places, even the composer is left surprised. Slim, elegant Clarice Assad, for example, looks as if she just walked off a Lower East Side fashion shoot rather than emerging from the kind of sunless, airless composing studio where classical composers tend to live. In truth, the 28-year-old daughter of the beloved Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad lives neither place. She sings and plays jazz with her trio in New York clubs, and never foresaw herself writing the Violin Concerto that violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays tonight with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
March 4, 2006 |
New symphonies and concertos have a way of going into hibernation shortly after being born: Christopher Rouse's Flute Concerto, for one, was reasonably interesting as it came and went over its initial round of performances in the mid-1990s. Now, it returns in an era that needs it. The Philadelphia Orchestra premiere on Thursday at the Kimmel Center seemed made for this year, this month, this moment. Influenced by both Gustav Mahler and Led Zeppelin, Rouse writes music full of dark humor, violence, and the quiet before catastrophe - not earthquakes or volcanos, but more terrifying creations that can come only from the human mind.
February 8, 2006 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra has pulled its imminent world premiere of Bright Sheng's Concerto for Orchestra: Zodiac Tales, which was to have been unveiled Feb. 23 and repeated in four additional concerts in Philadelphia and New York. The piece, set to be led by music director Christoph Eschenbach on the orchestra's subscription, family and Access concerts, wasn't ready to be performed "in its current state," said Kathleen van Bergen, the orchestra's vice president for artistic planning.
December 10, 2005 |
Composer John Adams has the ability to make his performers see things. Violinist Leila Josefowicz compares the first movement of his Violin Concerto to watching mist rise. Conductor Simon Rattle, when listening to Adams, imagines himself in a light aircraft flying fast but close to the ground. When the Philadelphia Orchestra played Adams on Thursday at the Kimmel Center, I utterly failed to hallucinate. But that's because the music left my senses so sated, I wanted for nothing else.
October 15, 2005 |
In between playing chamber music with the Emerson String Quartet and arranging to be the next president of the Curtis Institute of Music, Roberto D?az has been practicing Bart?k. At least, he sounds as if he has. Yesterday afternoon in Bart?k's monstrously difficult Viola Concerto, D?az, the Philadelphia Orchestra's principal violist for a few months longer, had the piece under his fingers as firmly and elegantly as Serkin had Mozart, or Heifetz had Tchaikovsky. As a soloist, he likes to explore various shades of refinement, which is one reason he has been such a wonderful match for this orchestra in the last decade.
April 29, 2005 |
Anybody who has spent time in the theater knows about production numbers choreographed around a star with great presence but limited mobility. Scenery, chorines and lighting effects swirl about, but at the core, not much is happening. Though rather higher on the artistic food chain, composer Nicholas Maw attempted something similar in his English Horn Concerto, which had a muted world premiere Wednesday by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Despite the composer's restless sense of invention, this new work commissioned for the orchestra's English hornist Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia seemed to fool few. The compositional voice one has come to love from Maw's Violin Concerto and the opera Sophie's Choice was there in full, and that alone made the piece hugely welcome.
April 27, 2005 |
Those who know composer Nicholas Maw are likely to wonder whom he thinks he's kidding with his English Horn Concerto, which will be premiered tonight by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The 69-year-old composer of gargantuan pieces such as the orchestral work Odyssey and the opera Sophie's Choice can't possibly have written a concerto for an instrument so demure as the English horn, with orchestration light enough for the soloist to be heard - and at a short-for-him 20 minutes. Equally difficult to envision is the 20-minute String Quartet No. 4 Maw is writing for the Emerson String Quartet, commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society for next season.
March 14, 2005 |
The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra arrived at the Kimmel Center Friday with three obvious distinctions: It launched the international career of conductor Mariss Jansons, is currently hosting what will probably be the last full-time orchestral appointment of 75-year-old Andr? Previn (who conducts the current tour), and may well be the blondest orchestra on the planet. From there, you can say that the orchestra doesn't play like stereotypical blondes - how could it with Strauss' gargantuan Alpine Symphony on the program - but hasn't a great deal of personality (even though performances were personable)
February 25, 2005 |
RIGHT ON the heels of our own Chinese-born piano phenom Lang Lang, the 20-year-old Yundi Li has burst into the spotlight through three astonishing CDs of Chopin and Liszt on DG. This remarkable young artist, winner of the 2000 Chopin International Competition, makes his local debut with our Philadelphia Orchestra in the familiar Grieg Piano Concerto. Conductor laureate Wolfgang Sawallisch will also conduct the magnificent Schubert Ninth Symphony, accurately subtitled "The Great" (2 p.m. today, 8 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets, $32-$69.