February 26, 2015 |
The world is impossible to imagine without Mahler's Symphony No. 4 , though its well-deserved ubiquity didn't stop Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia from indulging in amiably quixotic time travel back to when Mahler approved a parlor-size reduction, perhaps because options for hearing the large-orchestra version were limited. The 12-musician version - not counting the conductor or vocal soloists in the final movement - was made by Arnold Schoenberg's student Erwin Stein for strings, winds, percussion, piano, and harmonium - in a program that included a 14-string version of Schoenberg's challenging Verklarte Nacht . The concert was pleasing and never embarrassing (as the Mahler could have been)
February 24, 2015 |
Has Ligeti's Atmosphères lost some of its shock value in the decades since its use in 2001: A Space Odyssey ? Maybe not. Amid our current orchestral odyssey of making programs as obsequious as possible, the classic from 1961 is regaining ground as a stroke of wondrous impertinence. British conductor Robin Ticciati made it so Friday night, even while constructing a Philadelphia Orchestra program in Verizon Hall of sly interplay among pieces. Another conductor might have aped the film, pairing it with Also sprach Zarathustra . Ticciati instead connected this Ligeti with an antecedent: Wagner.
February 22, 2015 |
A violin career that began when she was 3, playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" at home outside of Seoul, South Korea, has led a Chester County teenager to deliver award-winning classical performances at venues in Florida, California, Ohio, North Carolina - and Romania. On Sunday, Sein An is set to perform in Bryn Athyn. An, 17, of West Chester, said her success is the result of early support by her musical family. "I could actually make people happy by playing that little song," An said.
February 20, 2015 |
With a couple of inches of fresh snow on the ground, Tuesday must not have felt much like Mardi Gras to Irvin Mayfield. But the trumpeter/bandleader did his best to bring the warmth of his native New Orleans to the Kimmel Center, with a raucous performance that was equal parts traditional and irreverent. Mayfield follows in the footsteps of fellow New Orleanian Wynton Marsalis in his efforts to marry jazz performance with education and outreach. The 37-year-old established the New Orleans Jazz Institute at the University of New Orleans in 2008, has opened two venues in the city, and was named by President Obama to the National Council on the Arts.
February 15, 2015 |
Conductor Valery Gergiev probably had one of the more civilized receptions of his winter U.S. tour at Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra concert. Pro-Ukrainian protesters were outside the Kimmel Center, having their say in the ongoing debate about Gergiev's support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and inside, the concert was business as usual - as much as Gergiev's concerts are ever typical. He has long been the master of spontaneous combustion. Although Gergiev's own Mariinsky Orchestra often plays with world-class inspiration, it's sonically compromised by the substandard quality of instruments.
February 12, 2015 |
The East-meets-West nexus in classical music still comes with so much creative leeway and remains so uncodified that a program titled "New Music From Asia" means that the only possible preconceived notion is the complete lack of one. In fact, the best-known composer in Orchestra 2001's Sunday program in Swarthmore delivered the most unexpected sounds. In Distance by Tan Dun sounded nothing like the composer's recent concert works (not to mention his Oscar-winning film music) - thanks to a particularly strong Chinese accent.
February 8, 2015 |
"Maestros. Can't live with 'em, can't run a major orchestra without 'em," says Bernadette Peters in the Amazon.com miniseries Mozart in the Jungle . Well, the Philadelphia Orchestra temporarily did without a maestro on Thursday in a conductorless program of Mozart, Beethoven, and Grieg - all smartly chosen to accommodate a more communal form of music-making that string quartets know well, with the added charisma of the British piano goddess Imogen...
February 7, 2015 |
What's that smell? It's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(l)y (stoopid) Tales at Walnut Street Theatre through Sunday. The hour-long musical comedy is based on the immensely popular 1992 book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. Jack tries to save himself from being eaten by the Giant by regaling him with fairy tales, frequently fractured (Cinderumplestiltskin, anyone? Goldilocks and the Three Elephants?). Fairy-tale worlds converge and come to life as the audience goes on a journey into Jack's crazy world.
February 6, 2015 |
Symphony orchestras don't typically slot in visits to China in the middle of a busy season. But the Philadelphia Orchestra is in the midst of its Pearl River Delta Residency Week, which slipped into high gear - after more than the usual Chinese cliffhangers - with a performance Wednesday of the choral/orchestral work Ode to Humanity in Macau. "I tell you, the world is getting small," said cellist Udi Bar-David, having recently stepped off a nonstop 15-hour flight from JFK Airport.
January 31, 2015 |
In a somewhat unconventional program, Yannick Nézet-Séguin led the Philadelphia Orchestra through the lighter side of Shostakovich - assuming there actually is one. Even when the composer seems to be kidding around, his music hints at something subversive, that the music means much more than it says, and what it says is always dangling out of reach. That's why you want to hear it again. The objects of curiosity Wednesday at the Kimmel Center were Shostakovich's seldom-heard Piano Concerto No. 2 and music for the film The Gadfly - paired with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 - creating a provocative conclusion to the St. Petersburg Festival that could have been less convincing had performances not been so purposeful.