May 11, 2013 |
If a night at the orchestra were a pure investment-return transaction, Lang Lang certainly gave Thursday's audience its money's worth. It's when the actual music entered the equation that things got a little dicey. You had to look past a lot to hear it. At the front of Verizon Hall stage, with Simon Rattle leading the Philadelphia Orchestra, the pianist air-conducted or air-trilled with an idle hand when Beethoven failed to give him enough to do, mugged all manner of facial expressions, and kept leaning out to look at the audience, as if to ask: Do you like this?
May 9, 2013 |
Iconic crooners don't get any more comfy than Dean Martin, who ambled through his performing life with supreme ease and deceptive artistry, most apparent when he wasn't making fun of himself. Supposedly, he was so cool that his heart beat only five times a minute. But that's not what you see with Dino! An Evening With Dean Martin at the Latin Casino , now playing to full-ish houses at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio. The show's conceit is that Martin arrives at Cherry Hill's Latin Casino in 1978 amid a snowstorm and without his band.
April 16, 2013 |
Often lost amid all the exactitude issuing from conservatories today is the reason we make music in the first place. It's not about being able to play all the notes or play them in tune. Interpretation has to mean something if it is to be worth the trouble, especially since the trouble is considerable. How fortunate, then, must be the students of Miriam Fried, the violin pedagogue who teaches at the New England Conservatory. On Sunday night, for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she came to the Perelman Theater with one of her progeny - in fact, her prime progeny, pianist Jonathan Biss, who happens to be her son. Whatever their offstage dynamics may be, in terms of musical substance it was a performance of equals - if very different ones.
February 28, 2013 |
Van Cliburn, 78, the intrepid pianist whose 1958 win at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow was seized upon as a stroke of American triumphalism at the height of the Cold War, died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He died of bone cancer, his publicist said. Striking Soviet gold transformed Mr. Cliburn from pianist into pop-culture phenomenon. Inevitably described as a "lanky Texan," whose 6 feet, 4 inches were topped by a wavy, flaxen pompadour, he was welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade down lower Broadway that was compared to the one in 1927 for Charles A. Lindbergh.
February 23, 2013 |
Piano man "Bobby Chic" was part of the finger-snapping soundtrack for the Age of Cool. Born Robert M. Cicalese in South Philadelphia, he romanced the ivories from the Jersey Shore to Las Vegas and back again over a career that lasted until a couple of years before his death Wednesday, Jan. 30, at age 76. In the 1960s, he was one of the cats setting the casino surge to music along the Strip. But his favored haunt was Atlantic City, where he played Paul "Skinny" D'Amato's 500 Club, a heady mixed drink of mobsters, showgirls, Rat Packers, and backroom gamblers.
February 22, 2013 |
With his cunning wisps of dance tunes and church harmonies, Schubert gives even the mildly astute performer an easy way into his music. But Imogen Cooper doesn't have the kind of mind that lends itself to the easy way in, or out. The London pianist, in Wednesday night's all-Schubert recital at the Perelman Theater, introduced an air of struggle and vulnerability that went far beyond the usual highlighting of abrupt mood swings, major-minor ambiguity, and...
January 16, 2013 |
The supremacy of the violin and piano repertoire is such that we're taught not to expect much good solo stuff for instruments such as clarinet. Yet a musician of Ricardo Morales' caliber can't just live on the works written when Mozart, Brahms, and Debussy paid momentary attention to the instrument. So almost all of the music played by the Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist and pianist Natalie Zhu Monday at the American Philosophical Society was new to seasoned ears - even to Jennifer Higdon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who heard her 201 2 Clarinet Sonata for the first time.
January 12, 2013 |
If you combed through the piano recital programs of the coming year and put the most forbidding pieces into one concert, you'd have Ieva Jokubaviciute's recital Thursday at Settlement Music School. In the program, titled " New Century, New Paths" and presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, this fully matured Lithuanian pianist skillfully guided one's ears through Debussy, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Janacek, and Berg in performances that confidently created a trajectory from which all the composers benefited.
January 11, 2013 |
Carnegie Hall advertisements are likely to prompt deja-vu echoes among Philadelphia concertgoers: Didn't we just hear that concert here? For a lot less money? Same thing when Nonesuch releases pianist Jeremy Denk's recording of the Goldberg Variations in the coming months. Wasn't he recently playing them here? Though Philadelphia is a significant destination for classical performers, there's no getting around its proximity to New York City - or how much the two cities feed off each other culturally.
December 27, 2012
Jimmy McCracklin, 91, who by his count composed nearly a thousand songs and recorded hundreds, including the 1950s hit "The Walk," died Thursday in San Pablo, Calif. Mr. McCracklin's music spanned decades and eras of rhythm and blues, from up-tempo jump blues of the 1940s to soul of the 1960s and '70s. Mr. McCracklin released more than 20 albums, but he never recorded his most lucrative song, "Tramp. " The song cracked the pop charts in 1967 when it was recorded by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.