December 17, 2015 |
The long-term creative destination of any given composer is more difficult to predict than weather, from Wagner's lofty refinement achieved in Parsifal to Leonard Bernstein's angry repudiation of suburbia in A Quiet Place . Having pioneered electronic music and collaborated with the stylish and abstract choreographer Alwin Nikolais, the 76-year-old Andrew Rudin has progressed to a distinctive place of mystery in his fine piano trio Circadia ...
December 8, 2013 |
Who was that traditionalist on the podium Thursday night? No piece of music plays itself. But Michael Tilson Thomas, guest-conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Verizon Hall, was content to let the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique unfold within the narrow bounds of standard interpretation. At 68, Tilson Thomas executed some wonderfully balletic moves, though their musical benefit was, at best, hazy. As an artistic statement, this could have come from any number of competent conductors.
October 31, 2013 |
THIS WEEKEND, the Philadelphia Orchestra premieres three newly commissioned works, each composed specifically for one of its principal players. These renowned soloists, who can't ask Mozart or Brahms for advice on how to play their music, had the unique chance to be collaborators. Each creative process was different, yet all three composers were inspired both by ancient traditions and by our orchestra's legendary sound. We asked the creators and artists to share their thoughts on the collaborations.
October 30, 2013 |
With three video screens, the full Philadelphia Orchestra, and harp soloist Elizabeth Hainen to keep track of in Verizon Hall, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin might need a GPS to know where to turn next. The occasion is Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp and Orchestra , by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Besides documenting a 1,000-year-old language that women sing only to one another in remote parts of China, the piece is also "a kind of art installation," says the Oscar-winning composer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon , "because my screen is also a Chinese scroll painting.
December 1, 2012 |
Life without music, said Nietzsche, would be a mistake. But Wagner without singers is a very good idea indeed. You don't have to worry about an ailing Brünnhilde or malfunctioning stagecraft. A half-concert of orchestral excerpts from Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung Thursday night in Verizon Hall (prefaced by a Beethoven piano concerto) took kind exception to the composer's concept of Gesamtkunstwerk - a single work synthesizing all the arts (to which we'd add technology, especially at the Met)
February 18, 2012 |
Few current pianists have played and recorded as much Rachmaninoff as Nikolai Lugansky. And no orchestra had such an intensive association with pianist/composer Rachmaninoff as the Philadelphia Orchestra. The combination is such that each side welcomes the other almost as if they're cousins. Maybe they are. "Here, this music is unbelievably close," Lugansky said Thursday, having just rehearsed Rachmaninoff with the orchestra. "This is the best Russian style. " But what such a collaboration actually would sound like on Friday and Saturday night at the Kimmel Center performances of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 - and how much Lugansky would follow in the composer's footsteps - remained to be seen.
February 14, 2012 |
Sociologists would seem to have planned the Curtis Symphony Orchestra's concert Sunday at the Kimmel Center, in which conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya identified national moods from the 1940s, contrasted haves and have-nots, and even took some musical soil samples to show how music sprouts and grows. The almost simultaneous birth of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 "Age of Anxiety" and Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 sent the players on a survey of contrasting musical styles reflecting two societies' postwar hopes, memories, and mental positionings.
September 1, 2011
"Whatever financial woes the cash-strapped Philadelphia Orchestra might be having at home, they gave a super performance . . . that glittered and sparkled from beginning to end. . . . This phenomenal orchestra produces a well-balanced sound, seemingly effortlessly. " - Susan Nickalls, Edinburgh Daily News, Aug. 31 " . . . in Lucerne, one could hear precisely which areas Dutoit had worked on with the orchestra and which he had not. . . . Piano Concerto No. 2]
April 2, 2011 |
We know from many happy encounters over the years what Marc-André Hamelin thinks of Charles-Valentin Alkan, Nikolai Kapustin, Nikolai Medtner, and Kaikhosru Sorabji. But how does he do in Mozart? Hamelin's Thursday night performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major (K. 453) with the Philadelphia Orchestra didn't pack the punch and revelation of his other appearances here. The Canadian-born pianist - once a Philadelphian, now a Bostonian - is known as the conquering hero of towering technique.
March 19, 2011 |
Word association: Tchaikovsky and piano concerto. No, not that concerto. Another one. Yes, there are others. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major is an enormously intriguing work, yet it is his ivory-billed woodpecker. The last time it alighted in a Philadelphia Orchestra subscription concert was in 1968, when Gary Graffman played it under Eugene Ormandy, and its return Thursday night, if an artistic vindication, revealed reasons for the rarity. Specifically, three of them: It requires a pianist of preternatural technique, and a solo violinist and cellist who can conjure a Tchaikovsky pas de deux in mid-piano concerto.