March 24, 2015 |
If, in the classical realm, technical mastery long ago became the norm, and if, more recently, greatness is as easily accessed as a YouTube search, what do we hope to glean from the live concert experience? Why go at all? A smart curatorial hand assembling the weekend's artists and repertoire at the Philadelphia Orchestra affirmed the value of surprise. Saturday night in Verizon Hall could not have looked more unassuming on paper: a long-established violinist in a warhorse. But Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg made Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor into such a complete personal statement it left the impression it might never happen again (Sunday's repeat performance, broadcast live on WRTI-FM, came close)
March 19, 2015 |
A memorial service and concert have been set to honor former Philadelphia Orchestra principal cellist William Stokking, 81, of Medford. The service is to be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 401 Kings Highway N., Cherry Hill. The concert is to be at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Field Concert Hall of the Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St. His wife, Nancy, said both events are open to the public. Mr. Stokking, who retired from the orchestra in 2005, died Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, at a Moorestown nursing home of complications from a stroke.
March 15, 2015 |
Beethoven and Falla. Only one conductor would dare to pair such radically dissimilar composers with the Philadelphia Orchestra: the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Planned by him before his death last year, the program on Thursday fell to the orchestra's conductor in residence, Cristian Macelaru. He is as strong-minded as anyone standing before the orchestra this season and, overall, made the evening work in a manner hugely different from Frühbeck de Burgos'. Beethoven was represented by his least severe orchestral work, the Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral")
March 8, 2015 |
For all of its reputed fabulousness, the Philadelphia Orchestra is also known for its winter contingency concerts. Most famously, Wolfgang Sawallisch once played Wagner on piano while weather-delayed orchestra musicians trickled in. On Thursday, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin could not muster enough musicians for Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4 , so he substituted Ravel's Mother Goose Suite on four-hand piano with himself and none...
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.