June 5, 2015 |
VIENNA - The old saying "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there" definitely applies to what was probably the most important concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2015 European tour. This city, nurturer of composers from Haydn through Schoenberg, truly seems to have its time-warp zones, starting with the Musikverein, its famous concert hall, where capitulation to the past is necessary for any 21st-century orchestra playing a program of composers the Viennese claim as their own: Beethoven and Brahms and (to a lesser extent)
May 23, 2015 |
LUXEMBOURG - Listeners probably thought they knew what they were getting at the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday opening concert of its 2015 Europe tour here. But after guest soloist Lisa Batiashvili played a hot Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 , she and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin regrouped in the rear of the stage where the piano was parked. They played Tchaikovsky. The two had cooked it up in Philadelphia before leaving on tour, choosing the first of the composer's Six Romances Op. 6 ("Do Not Believe, My Friend")
March 10, 2015 |
MOVIEGOERS and celebrity wrongdoers seemed to take the weekend off. Misdeeds were even more nonexistent than the box office. Neill Blomkamp 's R-rated "Chappie" might have taken the No. 1 spot in its 3,201-theater debut, but its modest $13.3 million gross was a career low for Blomkamp, whose previous films, "Elysium" and "District 9," debuted at $29.8 million and $37.4 million, respectively. The R-rated Vince Vaughn comedy "Unfinished Business" fared even worse, opening at No. 10 to a dismal $4.8 million.
March 8, 2015 |
For all of its reputed fabulousness, the Philadelphia Orchestra is also known for its winter contingency concerts. Most famously, Wolfgang Sawallisch once played Wagner on piano while weather-delayed orchestra musicians trickled in. On Thursday, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin could not muster enough musicians for Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4 , so he substituted Ravel's Mother Goose Suite on four-hand piano with himself and none...
February 9, 2014 |
Based in the high-traffic musical world of London, conductor Vladimir Jurowski has the freedom to devise unconventional programs that can be heard as provocative studies in musical incongruity. What might J.S. Bach have in common with Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss? Besides the obvious fact that Bach is pretty much the basis of everything after 1750? Such was the program Jurowski conducted with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Friday afternoon, which was, typical of him, played with an ultra-clear-eyed vision but, in this case, left you scratching your head.
February 10, 2013 |
In Chopin, it's about liberty - or at least, liberties. But Emanuel Ax isn't taking them, not many and not to any great extent, which makes him a minor radical. The pianistic tradition in this repertoire of erasing bar lines, blurring note values, and delivering the listener to time-defying spaciousness goes back a century or more. In Thursday night's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Perelman Theater, Ax neither floated nor dallied in his encore, the Nocturne No. 5 in F Sharp, Op. 15 No. 2 . You could have set your metronome to sections of Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Minor, Opus 58 . Shouldn't the sonata's last movement be terrifying, the unexpected climax of a four-movement bildungsroman?
March 11, 2011 |
The very idea of a chamber music gala is almost comically incongruous. Tiaras? War medals? At the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society? I don't think so. The PCMS is celebrating its 25th anniversary because it's a refuge from surface gloss, artistic shortcuts, and greatest hits. There's no lite version. The only evidence of gala-ness at the Wednesday anniversary concert at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater was a few extra gray suits in the audience for a program that had more collaborative elements than usual, but was fairly representative of what usually happens here.
April 17, 2010 |
Unfailingly genial and totally lacking any sense of struggle, Emanuel Ax's playing is nothing if not equanimity in sound. The pianist is always pleasant. He's expressive, but conveys a sense that to be too expressive would be an imposition on the listener. He's well liked in the way Itzhak Perlman is, mostly for his musicianship and stage persona of quiet mirth, and for being generous to good causes. In these parts he has extra resonance as one-third of the trio (with Perelman and Yo-Yo Ma)
February 10, 2010 |
Dependability isn't necessarily the greatest compliment in classical music, but in Emanuel Ax's case, it's dependability of the highest order. Outbursts of musical temperament do indeed happen with this 60-year-old pianist, but you don't feel as if you've missed anything when the repertoire requires and receives a genteel veneer - which was mostly the case with his Chopin/Schumann recital Monday at the Kimmel Center, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber...
March 22, 2007 |
Is there a more comfortable presence than Emanuel Ax? A frequent visitor to Philadelphia's concert halls, the 58-year-old pianist always transcends nonmusical obstacles - snowstorms, summer heat, antiseptic sound systems - with his velvet legato and amiable presence. Never, in my experience, has he phoned in a performance. But without a concert to salvage and with conditions ideal (Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall, thanks to Philadelphia Chamber Music Society) and a program of his choosing, a different Ax emerged Tuesday.