May 7, 1994 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra served such bounty Thursday that its audience had trouble deciding which was better: the bright show of two sets of orchestral variations or the rediscovery of Haydn's Piano Concerto in D. Haydn's Concerto is the piece every pianist learns in his second year. Its simplicity, sturdy structure and buoyant spirit are the expressions of youth, and virtuosos are only too glad to relegate the piece to children's concerts. Emanuel Ax played the work Thursday, revealing how deeply he had thought about its sound, its textures and its place in the history of piano concertos.
July 23, 1986 |
Last night's Philadelphia Orchestra appearance at the Mann Music Center was billed as the William Kapell Memorial Concert, and to honor that great and thoughtful pianist who died at the age of 31 in a plane crash 23 years ago, Emanuel Ax performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor (Op. 37). Ax is a fitting servant for the task because, like Kapell, he possesses not only a brilliant technique but also a keen musical intelligence and a heartfelt, unaffected interpretive style.
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...
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?
January 31, 1998 |
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra differs from most others in that it consistently mixes new music into its programs. The contemporary piece in a concert Thursday at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington was a work by Philadelphia-born composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Kernis was composer in residence with the St. Paul orchestra through 1996, and he left his Too Hot Toccata for music director Hugh Wolff as a farewell piece. The five-minute flurry of notes is designed to make soloists of almost everybody onstage.
May 2, 1998 |
Two by Carl Maria von Weber, two by Paul Hindemith were the offerings of Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra Thursday night. And as sometimes happens, the program on paper seemed more sensible and sensitive than when the music hit the air. Connections, obvious and subtle, linked the repertoire, including whiffs of patriotism that opened and closed the concert. Weber's Jubel-Overture (Op. 59), which began the evening, spills forth the familiar strains of "God Save the Queen.
January 9, 1999 |
Two unfamiliar works caught the attention of Academy of Music listeners yesterday afternoon. So did one new conductor. David Robertson, a Californian trained in London and who currently heads Paris' brainy Ensemble Intercontemporain, was the new man on the podium. He's nimble and secure, this young maestro. He is the kind of conductor who imposes his will not with force but with persuasion. The program was pleasing for its novelty, for its execution and for the way so many listeners appeared to be sitting alertly and savoring musical phrases.
July 7, 1994 |
Prague is in the air. Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel received the Liberty Medal on Monday, and the following night the Philadelphia Orchestra opened its Mann Music Center program with Czech American Tomas Svoboda's Overture of the Season (Op. 89). Svoboda, who escaped from Prague in 1966, settled on the West Coast soon after and now works in Oregon - as does this week's Mann conductor, James DePreist, longtime music director of the Oregon Symphony. Svoboda, who is in his 50s, first made a stir in his homeland at 17, when the Prague Symphony played his first symphony.
February 23, 1990 |
Nothing the Philadelphia Orchestra did last night could quite surpass its achievement in Benjamin Britten's A Simple Symphony, the piece it offered as curtain raiser and prelude to bigger things on its program. The bigger things never quite materialized, at least in ways to contrast with Britten's brief and near-parodistic music so neatly presented by the orchestra's strings. Klaus Tennstedt was leading his second program, following the Britten with Mozart's Piano Concerto in G (K. 453)
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.