April 25, 2016 |
As jobs go, there's not much to recommend it. The work is hard, there's no glory, and the risk of disaster is high. Regarding any levity, only the paycheck might draw a laugh. And yet, page-turners are classical music's anonymous heroes. In some performances, a smart music reader with quick reflexes and intuition for nailing just the right moment for turning the page can be the difference between a performance fraught with gremlins and one that soars. Page-turners are the air-traffic controllers of music, says Miles Cohen, artistic director of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, perhaps the area's most frequent professional employer of page-turners.
April 24, 2016
In solo recitals, players tend to memorize their parts, so page-turners are a moot point. In an orchestra, where parts are only a few pages long, players can photocopy, cut, and tape parts to avoid awkward page turns. When there are two musicians to a stand, one turns the page while the other continues playing.But in pieces like Elgar's thickly textured 40-minute Piano Quintet , played by the Takács Quartet and pianist Garrick Ohlsson not long ago at the Perelman Theater, the part is long, and the pianist is often in the middle of a line when the page runs out. And so the present writer lent a hand.
April 4, 2016
Concert with benefits. Tri-County Concerts in Rosemont has been presenting up-and-coming classical performers for some 75 years. It will hold a benefit concert at 7 p.m. next Sunday with artists who have most definitely arrived. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, the acclaimed French pianist, heads a lineup that includes flutist Mimi Stillman, violinist Xiao-Fu Zhou, cellist Isaiah Kim and pianists Charles Abramovic, Natalie Zhu, and Matthew Bengtson. Tickets are $30 at the Rotwitt Theater in Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave. in Rosemont.
March 20, 2016 |
Even the intermediate piano student could play through the first 30 seconds of Schubert's Piano Sonata in B Major, D. 575 and hear that something crazy is going on. It wasn't just Schubert. There are any number of ways one could map in a single program the strangely precarious state of traditional harmony, but none more deliciously subversive than the route Paul Lewis chose Thursday night. The English pianist's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital debut at the Perelman looked harmless on paper - Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt.
March 13, 2016
Mapping a Musical Partnership. Pianist Maurizio Pollini and conductor Claudio Abbado began performing together in the 1960s, an association that lasted five decades. DG has packaged eight discs' worth of music taken from recordings released between the 1970s and late '90s - all five Beethoven concertos, the two of Brahms, Schumann, plus works of Bartók, Schoenberg, and Luigi Nono. What's captured in Pollini & Abbado: The Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings is variable. The Schumann concerto might have more revealing interpreters than Pollini.
January 21, 2016 |
The pianist arrives as the food court clock strikes noon. A jazz man at heart, the pianist exudes class. In his sweater vest and tie, Mark Randall sits down at his Baldwin, his sweet, battered Baldwin, nestled among the marble tables and plastic ferns, under the neon lights of the China Pagoda restaurant and the Hair Express salon. He begins to play. A standard, always. Porter. Gershwin. Jimmy Dorsey, perhaps. Some barely notice Randall as they pass through the old Lit Bros.
December 29, 2015 |
Samuel "Sam" Dockery, a pianist whose performances and recordings with prominent musicians made him an icon of Philadelphia's jazz scene, died Dec. 23 at the Burlington Woods health-care facility in Burlington, N.J., from Alzheimer's disease. He was 86. Mr. Dockery, who spent most of his life in and around Philadelphia, worked steadily from the 1950s through the 1990s, playing on dozens of albums and touring with such nationally recognized artists as Buddy Rich and Betty Carter. He played hard bop, a subgenre of jazz that incorporates influences from rhythm and blues as well as gospel music.
December 21, 2015
More than a box set, Vladimir Horowitz: The Unreleased Live Recordings 1966-1983 is closer to being its own musical planet, full of familiar yet strange creatures who adhere to no laws but their own. Of course, there's really only one creature, pianist Horowitz, a musician who truly lived up to the word legendary , though not necessarily because he was infallibly great. The 50-CD set ($149.52 on Amazon), originally recorded by Columbia (now Sony) and RCA, comes from a time when recording machines were ever-present at the live concerts he gave, recordings that were distilled down to an LP or two a year, with the rest left unheard by the public.
December 20, 2015
At 1 p.m. Sunday on WRTI-FM (90.1), the Philadelphia Orchestra broadcast is the annual Glorious Sound of Christmas concert, a tradition since the orchestra recorded its best-selling Glorious Sound of Christmas album in 1962. Featured is the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and conductor/pianist (and humorist) Bramwell Tovey.
November 18, 2015 |
By now, audiences know how Elton John pulled the legendary Leon Russell out of the near-obscurity of tinny homemade albums and tiny club gigs; how the Okie-born, boogie piano player, righteously ragged vocalist, and '60s session giant recorded a plush duet album with Elton (2010's The Union ) and got his groove back. In reality, Russell's own bootstrap-pulling since then has aided his comeback most. The fleshy Memphis vibes of 2014's Life Journey , the recent release of Les Blank's long-hidden documentary, A Poem is a Naked Person , and 2015 shows with the Tedeschi Trucks Band where Russell relived Mad Dogs & Englishmen , the pianist's raucous 1970 tour film with fellow white soul-shouter Joe Cocker, show that the wonky rock-and-roller is in (literal)