March 24, 2011 |
The checklist that pianist Imogen Cooper left behind on her practice piano earlier this week said much about the current state of her art. A half-dozen pivotal moments in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 were enumerated by their measure numbers on a scrap of paper in the Kimmel Center's Rendell Room, where she was preparing for her return Thursday to the Philadelphia Orchestra. "22 fortissimo "69 resolve bass "140 not actually an E" Such precise analysis and wisdom in the details - the province of over-60 musicians - is why Cooper is an island of artistic solidity in a world increasingly oriented toward young newcomers ready for their album-cover close-ups.
February 7, 2011 |
Having made a significant splash in her early career, pianist Cecile Licad has evolved into such a singular personality in her field that her Friday recital, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, had to inspire polarized reactions. Clearly, she has embodied the music-before-personality ethos of her Curtis Institute mentors, Rudolf Serkin, Seymour Lipkin, and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. She has gone further than perhaps any of them, arriving at performances so thoughtfully analytical but emotionally neutral that you're likely to either love the refreshing purity of her conception or find them as unsatisfying as some low-fat meal.
January 20, 2011 |
Pianist Mitsuko Uchida has been a singular object of audience adoration over the last 25 years - for more than the reasons that are immediately apparent. Yes, you had to love the way she exuberantly arrived on the Perelman Theater stage Tuesday, in colorful harem pants suggesting she was a recently escaped genie. Artistically, she's unshakably solid, often taking on repertoire step by step from Mozart to Schubert to Beethoven. Her analytic powers yield extraordinarily communicative performances of Schoenberg and Berg.
January 14, 2011 |
When truth is stranger than fiction, you've got yourself a great story. So here's the truth about a little bracketed, uncapitalized musical called [title of show] . It started as a whim about writing a musical for fun that only in anyone's wild dreams could end up on Broadway. And it ended up on Broadway. Not only that, the entire musical - there never was a real plot for it - is about the journey of writing that particular musical. The two guys who wrote it, the two women who helped, and the pianist who accompanied them all ended up on Broadway, portraying themselves as they tried to write a musical that ends up on Broadway.
December 8, 2010 |
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein returned on Monday to the place where her Goldberg Variations odyssey began: Philadelphia's Astral Artists, a service organization that helps post-conservatory musicians make The Next Move. Though talented and ambitious, Dinnerstein just wasn't the piano competition type, didn't have the kind of influential teacher who can make magic phone calls, but found a sponsor, about five years ago, willing to finance what she most wanted to record: Bach's Goldberg Variations . Thanks to a first-class production effort, the results were ready to be released.
November 16, 2010 |
Breathing space between the musical boulders of Saturday's Philadelphia Brahms Festival wasn't easy to come by - but then, there are few more pleasurable routes to sensory overload than this master of musical density. Just because the repertoire was mostly Brahms chamber works, from the Piano Trio No. 1 Op. 8 to the Viola Quintet Op. 111 , didn't mean the music had any less to say than the composer's more heroic symphonies and concertos. In fact, by the final work of the three-part festival at Church of the Holy Trinity , Op. 111 , one's ears and attention span felt inadequate to taking it in. Each piece had been its own musical universe, each movement a world within that world.
November 15, 2010 |
BACK IN THE DAY, the cats used to bop over to Ortlieb's Jazzhaus to give a listen to one of the most highly regarded jazz pianists in the city. Sid Simmons was frequently called on to accompany other musicians, but he had a style all his own, much appreciated by fans and fellow musicians. "He combined the class of Bill Evans with the soul and hard-hitting style of Oscar Peterson," a critic wrote. And along with being a fine musician and a mentor to many other pianists, as well as an influence on other instrumentalists, Sid was a sweet man, soft-spoken and friendly.
November 12, 2010 |
James Simmons, 63, a Philadelphia jazz pianist known as a quintessential accompanist, died Friday, Nov. 5, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania of cardiac arrest after surgery. Known as Sid, Mr. Simmons was a pianist at three of the city's major jazz clubs. He was in the house band at the former Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Northern Liberties and a frequent sideman at Chris' Jazz Cafe on Sansom Street just west of Broad Street and at the former Zanzibar Blue in the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.
November 2, 2010 |
Jonathan Biss, the young concert pianist with a substantial international career, is taking his first faculty position: at the Curtis Institute of Music, his alma mater. Biss, 30, based in New York, will join the Curtis roster next fall. "I'm starting right at the top," Biss said Monday from his Georgia stop on a U.S. tour with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. "For the last five or six years I've been coming to Curtis about once a year to do master classes, but I've not had a student in my charge - so that's going to be a new experience.
October 22, 2010 |
POP . . . plus Born on the Spanish island of Mallorca to African immigrant parents, Concha Buika has been hailed by NPR as one of world music's "50 Great Voices. " Sonically akin to Nina Simone, Buika dwells in a world where jazz, blues, flamenco and Afro-Cuban sonorities coexist. Her first major North American tour is focused on Buika's impeccable new CD with pianist Chucho Valdes "El Ultimo Trago" (The Last Drink) which honors the 90-plus Mexican music legend Chavela Vargas.