January 12, 2013 |
With no conductor for Thursday night's Philadelphia Orchestra concert, the ensemble was left to confront Mozart on its own. Little surprise that the Eine kleine Nachtmusik was small and bland, the Symphony No. 25 erratic. And yet, the composer's C Minor Piano Concerto glowed with a point of view of such blinding beauty that we probably won't hear its likes again anytime soon. It was all planned, actually - even rehearsed that way. Conductors are a relatively modern invention, especially the breed of whom celebrity is expected, and for this one program the orchestra constructed a concert that asked musicians to find leadership elsewhere.
January 3, 2013 |
If notes on staves were New Year's greetings, the Philadelphia Orchestra would have sailed a sheaf of good wishes out into Verizon Hall Monday night. At what he told a sold-out crowd was "the biggest party in town," Yannick Nézet-Séguin led a program that, Janus-like, glanced back at a year of "great moments and maybe not-so-great moments," but looked forward, too. Everyone knew what he meant. Never uttered was the word bankruptcy , but by forming a first half of the program with Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony and music from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier , the orchestra's music director put sound to his aspirations, and, it's hoped, the city's as well.
December 27, 2012 |
Some traditions exist because they're needed. After a long year filled with incident, you could sink into your Verizon Hall seat on Sunday afternoon as fresh-voiced tenor John Tessier began to sing, with excellent diction and soothing tones, "Comfort ye, my people . . . . " It's Handel's Messiah , of course, a piece that could be a year-round classic (Choral Arts Society and Tempesta di Mare will perform it in March) but tends to arrive at the end of the year like a reward. The Philadelphia Orchestra's Sunday performance was historically responsible (the orchestra numbered about 30)
December 17, 2012 |
The final 45 minutes of yuletide rock enigma Trans-Siberian Orchestra's set Friday at the Wells Fargo Center was packed with the over-the-top, guitar-solo-laden Christmas jams that attract the group's rabid fans by the thousands. It nearly made up for the first 100 minutes. The seven-member band - two guitarists, two keyboardists, a bassist, a drummer, and one very energetic violinist - played effortlessly with nine backing singers, a seven-member string section of local players, plus a light and pyrotechnics show right out of Apocalypse Now . Trans-Siberian Orchestra's songs, which repackage familiar classical music themes and tease them out with hair-metal pantomime and arena-rock bombast, have proved such a winning formula that the TSO franchise dispatches two separate touring units each holiday season.
December 15, 2012 |
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3 has never quite taken off. The listening public adores the Fourth , Fifth , and Sixth , but mention the Third and you draw a stare. Is it that ideas in the Third , the "Polish," are exploited with greater economy and real edge in other Tchaikovsky works? Or has it suffered from inconsistent advocacy from the podium? Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda brought it out of the shadows Thursday night in Verizon Hall. His concepts of a lean sound and flexible beat were beneficial counterpoint to the Philadelphia Orchestra's natural inclination to swaddle Tchaikovsky in extra time and upholstery.
December 9, 2012 |
Sergei Rachmaninoff was well past the nervous breakdown that threatened to end his composing life when he finished his Symphony No. 2 . However, this 1907 lush, lyrical, hour-long piece was restored to its monumentally neurotic status in guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda's Friday outing with the Philadelphia Orchestra - in an all-Rachmaninoff program also featuring the debut of pianist Denis Matsuev. In the symphony, rhythms were nervous, almost terrifying. Orchestral choirs were constantly invading from the side door - dramatically poised against the backdrop of the composer's customary orchestral luster.
December 7, 2012 |
They just couldn't let him go. As Gustavo Dudamel basked in audience love along with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela Wednesday night, a few in Verizon Hall unfurled Venezuelan flags and shouted suggested encores. "After this huge piece," the conductor said in the wake of a Strauss tone poem, "we're getting old. " Who knew about this gift for being coy? The audience got its encore, and then another. People come to classical music for all kinds of reasons - thank goodness - and this audience came to connect with youth, energy, and Venezuelan pride.
December 6, 2012 |
Sometimes, the Philadelphia Orchestra needs an outsider to remind it of who it is and what it was. Gianandrea Noseda - a guest conductor so popular with the orchestra that he was reengaged for a two-week stint this season starting Thursday (with other return visits in the works) - happens to be the foremost Rachmaninoff specialist of his generation. This week, he's conducting that composer's Symphony No. 2 Thursday through Saturday at the Kimmel Center with what is generally considered to be "Rachmaninoff's orchestra.
December 3, 2012 |
WHEN YOU place the bow on your cello, do you ever dream of playing with the fabled Philadelphia Orchestra cello section? Well, now's your once-in-a-lifetime moment, open to beginners all the way to advanced musicians of all ages. A free cello play-in will give that opportunity for your dream, or that of some youngster you know, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15, on Commonwealth Plaza inside the Kimmel Center. First visit philorch.org/cello, choose your level: advanced/professional (Cello 1)
December 1, 2012 |
Life without music, said Nietzsche, would be a mistake. But Wagner without singers is a very good idea indeed. You don't have to worry about an ailing Brünnhilde or malfunctioning stagecraft. A half-concert of orchestral excerpts from Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung Thursday night in Verizon Hall (prefaced by a Beethoven piano concerto) took kind exception to the composer's concept of Gesamtkunstwerk - a single work synthesizing all the arts (to which we'd add technology, especially at the Met)