January 11, 2015 |
Just because Richard Strauss' boisterous tone poem Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks often seems to "play itself" doesn't mean that it should arrive on autopilot, as often as it does. In his return to the Philadelphia Orchestra, former music director Christoph Eschenbach didn't allow that to happen, in ways that could restore one's lost faith in the piece. In his Strauss/Schumann program on Thursday at the Kimmel Center, your ears settled into the "once-upon-a-time" theme that opens Strauss' series of musico-dramatic adventures that depict the mythical roguish prankster and show the composer full of guttural humor in what ultimately emerged as his most fractured score.
May 3, 2012 |
Long one of Philadelphia's proudest exports, classical music keeps flowing out beyond the city limits - more than ever, in fact, despite reports that this particular corner of the recording industry is dying or dead. Even longtime Philadelphia Orchestra music director Eugene Ormandy, who is indisputably dead, isn't acting that way, to judge from his presence on the Europe-based Pristine Classical website, which specializes in historical recordings. "He doesn't sell spectacularly as [Arturo]
July 30, 1991 |
The final week of the Mann Music Center series will have been significant for three debuts, and two of them came last night. Mariss Jansons, the 48- year-old Latvian conductor, was making his first local appearance, as was his soloist, 38-year-old Russian emigre pianist Mikhail Rudy. Since both will return in the winter season, this was a preview for orchestra audiences. Jansons has been music director of the Oslo Philharmonic since 1979, and his recordings have been making his name known more widely.
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.