April 6, 2014 |
When you have an excellent clarinetist at your disposal, you send him out on stage with the Mozart concerto and crowds will swoon. But Ricardo Morales is no excellent clarinetist. He is a superlative one. For him on Thursday night, nothing less than the formidable Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1 would do, and the capacity audience roared. Christoph von Dohnányi was on the podium, and, rounding out the Philadelphia Orchestra program in Verizon Hall with Brahms and Beethoven, he won traditionalist hearts.
March 30, 2014 |
There's a whiff of desperation to the Philadelphia Orchestra's current campaign to save music with the help of visuals. The latest salvo, unveiled Thursday night, imported artist/filmmaker Tal Rosner, who projected video pastiches on tall hanging scrims of Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to roll along with the four movements of Britten's four "Sea Interludes. " Whether this sort of thing is an augmentation or a distraction is very much a personal call, and there are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides.
March 23, 2014 |
Is the Philadelphia Orchestra's audience being trained to respond to the dog whistle it sees, rather than the one it hears? Playing with movie scores, ballet dancers, even acrobats, the orchestra is increasingly sending the message that its core business - sound, right? - is no longer enough by itself. It announced Thursday that "stunning video images" will be added to next week's Britten program. Has the orchestra forgotten how to market an orchestra? You have to wonder, given concerts like Thursday night's, when a program as wholesome as Mozart and Brahms produced hundreds of empty seats in Verizon Hall.
March 17, 2014 |
Leonard Bogdanoff, 83, of Elkins Park, a violist with the Philadelphia Orchestra for a half-century, died Friday, March 15, at his home. Colleagues said Mr. Bogdanoff personified the best qualities of the orchestra's old guard. "When I think of Leonard, I think of the kindness in dealing with all of the other members of the viola section. He was just very fair," said Pamela Faye, a substitute violist with the orchestra and a frequent stand partner of Mr. Bogdanoff's. "You can have people who can make or break a section, and he was one of the ones who gave a positive influence, sound-wise, stylistically, all of it. That was really an inspiration to me. " Retired orchestra member Louis Lanza, who as a second violinist sat not far from Mr. Bogdanoff, called him "a very steady player, very accurate, and just a wonderful musician.
March 16, 2014 |
Although perfectly congenial, the Philadelphia Orchestra's high-concept program was up around the ozone Thursday when the Fauré Requiem was preceded by a succession of composers that spanned three centuries and as many nationalities - for no clear reason. Not knowing the connecting thread isn't a bad thing: Such things can reveal themselves over time. Hitting so many musical bases, though, translated into less cumulative impact, despite superb performances under guest conductor Alain Altinoglu.
March 3, 2014 |
WARMINSTER Preparing a newly formed group of more than 100 high school musicians for a performance in less than three days takes guts. When that performance includes Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and an entire Dvorak symphony, it also requires practice. Unyielding hours of it. "It was a little intimidating at first," said Cindy Yeo, 15, a sophomore cellist at Germantown Friends School. "It's an intense little thing, it's not a prolonged thing. " Yeo was one of 117 students from more than 40 schools in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties who performed Saturday afternoon at William Tennent High School in Warminster.
March 2, 2014 |
The white floor cover on the Verizon Hall stage suggested something left over from a painting crew. Instead, the special surface was for Philadanco in its Friday collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra - an artistically gratifying enterprise that showed how easily such organizations can come together in an identity-enhancing experience. The meeting point was Poulenc's 1929 Aubade, a Jazz Age ballet/piano concerto hybrid performed with choreography by Tommie-Waheed Evans that wasn't out to change the world but showed off the quintet of female dancers well and authenticated the music's content.
February 23, 2014 |
The cost of war was palpable in the Philadelphia Orchestra's Thursday program of Strauss, Shostakovich, and Beethoven, one of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's most conceptually formidable and musically resourceful concerts. At this point in history, few of the musicians onstage have firsthand experience of the tragedies portrayed in Shostakovich's 1959 Cello Concerto No. 1 - a significant deterrent to tapping the music's fierce subtext about post-Stalin Russia. Nonetheless, the performance was bursting with empathy, the most audible manifestation being the extended cadenza in which cellist Johannes Moser (replacing Truls Mørk)
February 21, 2014 |
If Yannick Nézet-Séguin's current season with the Philadelphia Orchestra seemed unduly loaded with familiar repertoire, the 2014-15 season announced Wednesday has built-in newness: In anticipation of the music director's 40th birthday in 2015, the season will be dominated by the "40/40 Project" - 40 works not played by the orchestra during his lifetime. "I don't feel our seasons were cautious but an exploration of what the orchestra does in this or that repertoire . . . and how we apply our sound to new repertoire.
February 7, 2014 |
The week wasn't typical, but also not exceptional. In a span of seven days, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's weighty Symphony No. 7 , and conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in both the Academy Ball and a subscription series with pianist Radu Lupu - while shuttling to New York for Dvorák's opera Rusalka , starring Renée Fleming, at the Metropolitan Opera. This Saturday, the HD simulcast of Rusalka - to be seen in six area movie theaters - will require Nézet-Séguin to commute from his native Montreal.