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.
October 2, 2001 |
It is possible, in our post-Sept. 11 reality, to read too much into things. After all, as Lloyd Shorter pointed out, Rel?che had programmed Ingram Marshall's Dark Waters long ago. But in dedicating his performance of it Sunday afternoon at the Philadelphia Ethical Society to all the victims of last month's attacks, Shorter, Rel?che's English hornist, created a new, horribly symbolic place for the work. Marshall himself had already made the connection with death in Dark Waters.
January 16, 1998 |
The Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra has taken a welcome course-change, heading a little upwind in its programs. Instead of gliding endlessly in short baroque works, the ensemble is offering music that has importance and bite. Ignat Solzhenitsyn, the associate conductor, led Stravinsky's Apollon Musagete Tuesday at the Convention Center, reviving a work for strings too seldom heard in any concert hall. The music challenges performers to express ranges of intensity and mood within writing that rarely raises its voice.
February 22, 1994 |
Pianist Alan Feinberg recently made an observation worth repeating: When European composers are swayed by the music of others, their music is said to be part of the Great Tradition. But when Americans are similarly influenced, their work is called derivative. These words resonated in my head Sunday afternoon at a Philadelphia Orchestra chamber music concert, where American composer Amy (Mrs. H.H.A.) Beach far outpaced her older French contemporary, Ernest Chausson, in originality of spirit.
February 13, 1993 |
Rachmaninoff's The Isle of the Dead, the symphonic poem he penned after seeing a reproduction of the Arnold Bocklin painting, is not something you look forward to after a tough day at the office. Nevertheless, Charles Dutoit is using the lumbering giant, in its complete and longer version, no less, to open this weekend's concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra - just one good idea on an excellently conceived program. By the time the musicians had unfolded its lugubrious lines at the opening on Thursday, everyone had stopped the lapses into daydream that plague all but the most extraordinary concert experiences.
November 16, 1993 |
Ned Rorem's talents make him an artistic force that resists simple classification. As a writer, his prose is known through a series of personal journals. Time magazine called him "the world's best composer of art songs. " Yet the reputation often overshadows the fact that he is a keen orchestral and chamber-music composer. And what of his musical style? He was born in Indiana and trained at the Curtis Institute of Music. But his years in Paris in the 1950s, as well as contact with Virgil Thomson, turned him into a staunch Francophile.
February 19, 1991 |
"All his life was just music, music, music," said Romeo Aquilino of his father-in-law, Nicholas Lannutti. It's hard to argue with that. Mr. Lannutti was an oboist and English horn player who performed with orchestras, concert bands and opera companies - and at family reunions - for decades. He enjoyed the band music and the symphonies, but his true love was the opera. So fond was he of the great Italian composers, he named two of his daughters after characters in favorite operas: Lola is from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni, and the late Gilda is from Verdi's Rigoletto.
July 20, 1996 |
An extraordinary array of soloists illuminated the Philadelphia Orchestra's final two concerts this week at Mann Music Center. Cuban pianist Santiago Rodriguez played his local debut. Violist Joseph de Pasquale made his final solo appearance with the orchestra. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet was dazzling in Saint-Saens. And orchestra principals Betsy Starr, English horn, and David Bilger, trumpet, seemed like heralds for all this individual display. Hugh Wolff was on the podium, making his return to the orchestra after some time.
March 26, 1998 |
French orchestral music invites distinctive individual contributions - the elegant flute comment or shadowy brass moment. The Cincinnati Symphony showed its standing in that repertoire when it played Tuesday (no additional performances) at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. Jose Lopez-Cobos conducted Debussy and Ravel - with a Haydn symphony included. In La Mer, the conductor leaned toward strong and direct instrumental colors. Encouraging firmness and rhythmic solidity, he opened textures to allow English horn, solo violin, horn and flute to lead the narrative.
February 5, 1994 |
The spirit of Richard Wagner possesses the Academy of Music these days. After the performance of the excerpts from two operas Wednesday, the Philadelphia Orchestra turned Thursday to music so central to the idea of Wagner's being and music that it evoked the Wagnerian presence again. Wolfgang Sawallisch is filling in the spaces between opera performances with orchestral programs of music by Liszt (Wagner's father-in-law), Hindemith and Franck. The orchestra sometimes sounded a little fatigued Thursday and the sound lacked the bloom that had emerged in the Wednesday concert.