November 21, 2014 |
In the lofty trilogy that is Beethoven's last three piano sonatas - Opus 109, 110, and 111 - each feels like a continuation of the last, into ever more uncharted musical realms. They'll never feel like home: Their strangeness is so specific to the inner world of a composer who had withdrawn into deafness and, in any case, was among history's most singular human beings. So it's understandable that at Wednesday's performance of all three sonatas in one program, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society audience was puzzling over pianist Beth Levin.
November 16, 2014 |
The fashion world has long popularized clothes that appear to be turned inside out. Why shouldn't the Philadelphia Orchestra do its own version of that every so often? How could that work? Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 was so significantly reimagined by guest conductor Jakub Hruša that you'd think the prevailing, mellifluous tradition of Wolfgang Sawallisch never existed. The music was a rougher ride but full of incident. Orchestral sonorities that are normally string-dominated shared the sound picture more equally with brass and winds.
October 23, 2014 |
What's worse? Being traded in after 34 years by your Broadway producer husband for his decades-younger producing partner, or writing a musical revue about it? I'm going to go with writing the revue, Til Divorce Do Us Part , because getting dumped is painful, and while Ruthe Ponturo's ex seems like a real cad, at least without this show she still had her dignity. Ponturo attempts broad appeal, with tunes aping Cabaret or Oklahoma , but all that forced cheer becomes relentless, and after 26 songs, including "The Divorce Dirge," "The Other Woman," and "Holidays Suck," this empathy cocktail gets a very bitter taste.
October 19, 2014 |
British tenor Mark Padmore has the gift of sounding natural. On stage at the Perelman Theater on Wednesday night, he frequently held vibrato in reserve, and, by expressing the lyric as clearly as though spoken, revealed it as the thing he holds dear. In the art-song realm, rarified though it may be, the standards are high at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, where Gerald Finley and Hildegard Behrens have left indelibly visceral accounts of everything words alone cannot say. If Padmore lacks the emotional range to do with his voice what some others can, he does an enormous amount with what he has. In contemporary parlance, he puts himself out there.
September 29, 2014 |
This year, the Philadelphia Orchestra's official opening night - the one that lets you mingle with the maestro at an "exclusive" reception topping out at $2,500 per ticket - doesn't come until a couple of weeks into the season. Actual music-making, though, began in Verizon Hall on Friday night, with no less a gala soloist than Lang Lang. Many listeners in these parts still think of the pianist as an aberrantly eccentric Curtis Institute of Music student, and, for better or worse, in the last decade and a half of his working with every major orchestra and conductor on earth, absolutely nothing has rubbed off on him musically.
September 23, 2014 |
Suproteem Sarkar has coauthored two scientific papers on cancer treatments, been a presenter at an international nanoscience conference, and won accolades as a pianist. But perhaps the most notable entry on his resumé is the birth date - Sarkar is 17, just entering his senior year at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Chester County. "He's definitely a highflier here," said Conestoga principal Amy Meisinger. "He's on the fast track for something. " Family members say his precocity was evident almost from the beginning.
July 25, 2014 |
Though Philadelphia seems not to lack classical music concerts or educational opportunities for young artists, Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu came home to her Academy House apartment one recent summer, wanted to hear live music, and discovered there wasn't any. "I had just come back from my own festival in Taipei," she said. "People were so excited about it, and I thought, 'Why not do something similar here?' " Now, in these sweaty late-July weeks, the festival she founded, the Philadelphia Young Pianist Academy, is in its second year and occupies the Curtis Institute's Field Concert Hall with a series of five concerts Saturday through Aug. 2. They are the most prominent manifestations of an intensive program of master classes and lectures.
May 23, 2014 |
In 2013, John Legend found intimacy. Along with marrying his longtime love, model Chrissy Teigen, Legend - one-time choir leader and University of Pennsylvania student - released the album Love in the Future . That quietly kinetic collection surprised some listeners with a new sensuality, a change from previous themes of romance and universal consciousness. On Tuesday, the Kimmel Center welcomed the well-dressed pianist and singer in a public homecoming that moved to an after-party at Bar Volvér in the Kimmel complex.
May 2, 2014 |
Sometimes, the greater the musician, the narrower the path as time goes on. So it seems with pianist Richard Goode, who is presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at least once every season. On Tuesday, he seemed to be cycling out of two of the three composers on the program, but connecting with the third in ways one normally wouldn't dare hope for. The 70-year-old pianist played from memory what was no doubt an old friend - Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze Op. 6 - though one less welcome than Debussy's Preludes Book I , not played from memory.
April 27, 2014 |
For the opening salvo of four different Mozart programs in three days, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin on Thursday night modulated his influence to various degrees. His jumpiness in the Overture to Così fan tutte left you wondering what happened to the gracefully rounded waves of Mozart's main theme. In parts of a symphony, he stepped back and let it flow. Presiding over a piano concerto, he left a personal stamp. By the end of this weekend of overtures, symphonies, and piano concertos - so much for new formats - listeners should have a firm idea of whether this Philadelphia Orchestra music director has any firm ideas about Mozart.