October 5, 2009 |
Shostakovich's 1943 Symphony No. 8 is one in a handful of works that fathom the trauma of the 20th century with a boldness and originality so fearless that it's not often performed around here. However compelling Symphony in C's performance was on Saturday in Rutgers University-Camden's Gordon Theater, it went far to explain why: Once the steep musical challenges are met, you're entering a World War II-era abyss that not everyone (players or audience) can or will inhabit. Full of gargantuan war-inspired orchestral effects that prompt a visceral response from any alert musician, the symphony also requires a kind of life experience that the conservatory-age Symphony in C musicians can't be expected to have.
April 3, 1992 |
Bold emotions, boldly expressed, predominated last evening when Mariss Jansons, the music director of the Oslo (Norway) Philharmonic, conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in a program of Shostakovich, Ravel and Elgar at the Academy of Music. With considerable aplomb, Jansons showed the measure of the febrile rituals expressed in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, one of the least expansive and most ambivalent of the composer's symphonic output. Chameleon-like, the piece changes posture and attitudes; indeed the stern unanimity with which the violas and cellos are called upon to introduce the score hardly prepares you for its later carnival-like explosions.
February 10, 1997 |
Mariss Jansons began his tenure as conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Saturday, cheered on by a cohort of Norwegian fans and also by the players themselves. The 52-year-old music director-designate was greeted by a standing ovation at his first appearance, and after the last ripping chords of the Mahler Symphony No. 1, the audience was on its feet shouting, and the orchestra members were stomping their feet and applauding. The Latvian native has had the same effect in Norway, where he has been music director of the Oslo Philharmonic for 18 years.
June 4, 2000 |
Nobody is sure when Einojuhani Rautavaara will show up. The craggy 71-year-old composer who lives on an island near here with a minimum of modern conveniences had been expected for the European premiere of his Symphony No. 8 by the Philadelphia Orchestra a few days before in Cologne. He never showed. The affable but increasingly in-demand composer later explained: "In the evening of my so-called career . . . I have no time to compose anymore. " Fair enough. But the Helsinki premiere of the symphony last Sunday had a weighty significance; his schedule cleared.
September 21, 1995 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra opened its 96th season Tuesday - its players, conductor and repertoire filling the flower-laden Academy of Music with swirling images and signals of new directions and old traditions, dynamism and stasis. Wolfgang Sawallisch, himself a symbol of durable energy and curatorial solidity, was on the podium to begin his third season as music director. Unlike other years in his reign, he was returning to his orchestra after only a brief separation, for he last conducted the ensemble Sept.
May 3, 1992 |
Accustomed to continuity and long relationships, Philadelphia Orchestra listeners are confronting the end of their years with music director Riccardo Muti and the distant arrival of his successor, Wolfgang Sawallisch. Muti has conducted his final concerts here as music director, will close the New York season tomorrow at Carnegie Hall and then will lead the orchestra on a ceremonial three-week progress through Europe to Israel. Having laid aside the robes of office here, he will pull on those of the music director of La Scala on Tuesday in New York when he announces that company's tour of America in October, a tour that will include a performance of Verdi's Messa da Requiem at the Academy of Music here.
January 14, 2009 |
Though the classical music world has long lamented what might have been had Wolfgang Mozart lived beyond age 35, it doesn't often look closely at what really was - at least prior to the decade that produced his oft-heard masterpieces. And there are knowledgeable people who claim that early Mozart is best. I wouldn't go that far, but I was happy to see the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia delving into earlier symphonies and concerts (written from ages 16 to 21) Monday at the Kimmel Center, though that happiness didn't exactly survive the performances.
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.
July 9, 1992 |
Brahms symphonies are not what you normally think of as outdoor music. Indoors, particularly under former music director Riccardo Muti's hand at the Academy of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Brahms can grip the attention and maybe even wring the heart. But under most batons - and the acoustic challenges at the Mann - listening to these lumbering giants on a humid night can provoke thoughts of eternity. That wasn't the case, however, last night at the Mann when guest conductor Libor Pesek led the Philadelphians in the Symphony No. 4 in E Minor.
May 1, 2012 |
‘And oh, that towering feeling! … that overpowering feeling," sings the character Freddy in My Fair Lady, in one of the greatest songs of the American theater, "On the Street Where You Live. " He's been hopelessly smitten by the transformed flower girl, Eliza Doolittle. Oh, that towering feeling — it's what's missing from the Act II Playhouse production of the classic musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Overpowering? I'm afraid not. The theater company has been making much of the fact that it is producing the normally lush and lavish musical on the intimate stage of its 130-seat theater in Ambler.