November 8, 2015 |
Is it possible to accept in your mind's ear two radically different interpretations of the same work, but both absolutely ideal? To anyone taken with Wolfgang Sawallisch's fatherly warmth, authority, and carefully rationed passions in Schumann, Robin Ticciati's Schumann Symphony No. 4 Thursday night in Verizon Hall must have arrived like a blinding flash on the horizon. For me, even as a longtime Sawallisch adherent, Ticciati's light revealed important contours. Using period-instruments concepts, such as a leaner sound, the 32-year-old British conductor favored very fast tempos and lean textures . Rather, he used these ideas, where applicable, to underscore expressive details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
November 1, 2015 |
Rebellion - cheerful, languid, or seething - was the underlying theme of Marin Alsop's guest-conducting engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra in ways that skirted some of the more inciting possibilities, but that arrived with blinding clarity in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 . The added subtle twist Thursday at the Kimmel Center was how this Russian music turned a mirror back on American listeners. Written to placate the über-populist Soviet authorities, the symphony displayed meticulous logic, suitable bombast, and common touches, but with many subversive undertones.
October 25, 2015 |
So, what else did they write? That could have been the title of the Philadelphia Orchestra's program Thursday with guest conductor Donald Runnicles. Featuring less-familiar works of Mozart and Brahms, it wasn't the sexiest of concerts, but it was exactly what allows audiences to understand the masterpieces better. The aging Brahms knew his Concerto for Violin Cello and Orchestra Op. 102 was his last big orchestral work. His was a condition that often afflicts senior composers: Coming up with ideas is no problem, but developing them over long spans is tougher.
October 21, 2015 |
The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, with the Philadelphia Orchestra's Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium, opened its season Sunday at Verizon Hall and revived the question: Why doesn't this ensemble of gifted young players sound like the Philadelphia Orchestra? The question answers itself. While these extraordinary musicians learn style and performance practice from their elders, they inevitably play at contemporary metabolic rates and perceptions. Those change with the speed of life.
October 20, 2015 |
There's a quality to the Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor that asks the soloist to expose the scope of what it means to be human, and the fullness of the answer determines whether the piece comes across as great. This music is inescapably personal. No one gets through it truly successfully without passing through crushing pathos and reaching a state of calm that can make time stand still. Cellist Johannes Moser and the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Donald Runnicles conjured that marvelous sense of time suspension in the second movement of the Elgar on Friday night at Verizon Hall.
October 19, 2015 |
Most members of the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey don't play music for a living. Rather, they live to play music. Thus a physicist, a pharmacist, a data analyst, and a lawyer or two will be among the performers onstage at the amateur ensemble's 25th anniversary concert. "This fills a need in my life," says Neil Aaronson, 35, a violist who lives in Mays Landing and teaches physics at Stockton University. "Playing the viola makes me feel whole. " I met Aaronson and others in the respected 95-member Philharmonic during a rehearsal last week for the anniversary concert.
October 19, 2015 |
If you divined during the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2011 bankruptcy that the orchestra might emerge unable to raise the money required to fund its traditional size and stature, the new musicians' contract gives form to your fears. In the deal musicians approved Oct. 12, players did not reach the base pay of $131,000 that they had been scheduled to receive several years ago but that was canceled as part of a bankruptcy-era contract. Rather, the new base pay comes to $127,750, or about 3 percent higher than it was. And management agreed only to restore the ensemble's membership a hair, to 96 members from 95, which would leave nine vacancies and, by necessity, the continued use of many substitute players.
October 14, 2015 |
Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra on Monday approved a labor deal - an unusual 12-month contract that leaves in its wake some unfinished business and the promise of more labor talks soon. The pact and a related agreement are in part a manifestation of frustrations and disappointments on the part of musicians. The contract, which must still be approved by the orchestra board, increases the size of the ensemble, but only by one, to 96 members plus two librarians in 2016-17 rather than the 97 negotiators had sought, to help make up for deep cuts made during the 2011 bankruptcy.
October 11, 2015 |
The final seconds of the Sibelius Symphony No. 5 , as this beautifully textured symphony funnels down to a series of oddly spaced unison chords, have inspired puzzlement, awe, and ongoing blog debate. How should they feel? What do they mean? With that as background, the Philadelphia Orchestra gave a particularly splendid performance of the piece Thursday under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, full of long, sweeping lines, epic gestures, and deeply informed treatment of the piece's vividly descriptive effects.
October 10, 2015 |
All-night negotiations over a new contract for musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra ended Thursday morning after the session failed to produce a tentative agreement. Concerts will continue uninterrupted as negotiators ponder their next moves. Leaders had hoped a proposal would go to players Thursday for consideration at a vote Monday. While no agreement was reached, some parameters of a deal appeared to be falling into place. Management is offering a raise in base salary as of Dec. 1 of less than 3 percent, to $2,472 per week from $2,400.