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Emanuel Ax

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ENTERTAINMENT
May 7, 1994 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
July 23, 1986 | By Michael Kimmelman, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
February 10, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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...
NEWS
February 10, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
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?
ENTERTAINMENT
January 31, 1998 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 2, 1998 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 9, 1999 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 7, 1994 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 23, 1990 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
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)
NEWS
March 20, 1991 | By Lesley Valdes, Inquirer Music Critic
Telarc, the whiz kid of classical compact disc technology, came to mind more than once Monday night at the Academy of Music during the Atlanta Symphony's appearance in the All Star-Forum series. The orchestra, under music director Yoel Levi, offered such a brilliance and generosity of high decibels that one had a fantasy that Jack Renner, the engineer credited on Atlanta's Grammy-winning Telarc label, was twiddling knobs backstage during the brass-and-timpani quadruple fortes. But no, the orchestra's principals in the percussion and brass departments were on their own - and clearly delighting in the ruckus the Prokofiev Fifth Symphony can provoke.
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NEWS
February 9, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
February 10, 2013 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
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?
NEWS
March 11, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 17, 2010 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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)
NEWS
February 10, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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...
NEWS
March 22, 2007 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
February 8, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Long before cellist Efe Baltacigil bailed out a snow-impaired Philadelphia Orchestra concert last month, audiences at the Kimmel Center couldn't help picking out the diminutive young man with a set jaw and flashing eyes and wondering, "Who is that?" - or, at the very least, "How do you pronounce his name?" Answers: Although from a distance he looks half his age, Efe Baltacigil (pronounced Ef-AY Balta-juh-geel) is a 26-year-old Istanbul, Turkey, born-and-raised cellist who comes from such a music-steeped family that playing Beethoven's Cello Sonata No. 1 with Emanuel Ax after only 10 minutes' rehearsal was anything but an "ohmygod" experience.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 22, 2005 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Strauss' reputation as sculptor in the bloated medium of tone poem got a smart corrective Thursday night from Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Is it possible that Mozart and Richard Strauss have something in common? Strauss' late-in-life Oboe Concerto answers with a gentleness that makes one reevaluate who the composer really was. The piece, which has an expressive ingredient not unlike the most intimate corners of his operas, has local ties. The concerto was suggested to the composer by John de Lancie, who would become the Philadelphia Orchestra's famed principal oboist.
NEWS
June 30, 2003 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Nobody can accuse the Philadelphia Orchestra's Absolutely Mozart festival of flying on greatest-hits autopilot. Saturday's program was loosely wrapped around Mozart in his gothic Don Giovanni mode, with the usual overture and concerto separated by concert arias, art songs, plus some Mozart-inspired Chopin. An odd program, yet the corners of the repertoire were what challenged the musicians to surpass themselves. That happened most tangibly with guest soprano Christine Brandes - in a most Mozartean way. Though always good in her Opera Company of Philadelphia appearances, Brandes can be impersonal.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 28, 2003 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The concept of Mozart in the summer doesn't necessarily generate goodwill among hardened concertgoers. You'd really prefer wintertime Mozart, because that's when Philadelphia Orchestra concerts have the most rehearsal. Considering, too, that the orchestra often plays Mozart as if it would rather play Tchaikovsky, the current two-week Absolutely Mozart festival at the Kimmel Center is up against the odds. Opening night on Thursday, however, charmingly accounted for itself in a program that wasn't just good, but smart.
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