July 19, 2015 |
PRINCETON - The summertime campus here is annually overrun with pianists (and a few violinists) when the Golandsky Institute welcomes artists young and old to learn healthy techniques that allow them to play well for as long as they love music. There's also a piano festival (ending Saturday) showcasing faculty and students expressing themselves without extraneous effort. The exception of sorts was a Thursday recital at Taplin Auditorium of Chinese pianist Wei Luo, the latest Chinese wonder to hit the Curtis Institute.
April 26, 2015 |
Nothing all that unusual seemed likely to unfold at the Philadelphia Orchestra's second consecutive subscription week with principal guest conductor Stéphane Denève: A potentially pop-slanted John Williams film score suite; Graffiti , a choral work by the increasingly popular Magnus Lindberg; and excerpts from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet. Yet the orchestra, Philadelphia Singers Chorale, and the audience had plenty to contend with at Thursday's concert, which was one of the more distinctive programs of the season - a confounding, mixed success.
February 15, 2015 |
Conductor Valery Gergiev probably had one of the more civilized receptions of his winter U.S. tour at Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra concert. Pro-Ukrainian protesters were outside the Kimmel Center, having their say in the ongoing debate about Gergiev's support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and inside, the concert was business as usual - as much as Gergiev's concerts are ever typical. He has long been the master of spontaneous combustion. Although Gergiev's own Mariinsky Orchestra often plays with world-class inspiration, it's sonically compromised by the substandard quality of instruments.
December 7, 2014 |
The trademark red concert dress and ebullient stage presence told you that Di Wu was back, the Chinese-born, Curtis Institute-trained pianist who has become something of a local favorite as part of the Astral Artists roster. On Wednesday, she returned to the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, but in a recital that made you wonder if she is her own best advocate. Nobody really knows how long-term audience relationships are cultivated, but Wu's program of Haydn, Brahms, and Prokofiev wasn't the sort to advance her presence here.
March 23, 2014 |
The timing could not have been predicted or contrived. Just as Russian/American relations veer toward breakdown over the annexation of Crimea, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presented a concert of Sergei Prokofiev's three so-called War Sonatas - Nos. 6-8, Opp 82-84 - a surprisingly overt reaction to Stalin's purges of the 1940s, played by a pianist with a certain family history of Russian persecution, Ignat Solzhenitsyn. Whatever the influence of current events on Solzhenitsyn's performance Thursday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, the impact on the audience was immeasurable.
January 22, 2014 |
The order of things matters in a recital, or at least it can. Programs are essentially a portrait of the artist, and Sunday afternoon at the Trinity Center for Urban Life, pianist Sara Daneshpour proved a canny attendant to her image. Each piece was more convincing than the last, until a Scarlatti sonata as encore revealed yet another aspect of her formidable visage. But other, more meaningful layers surfaced in what Astral Artists billed as the Philadelphia recital debut of the Curtis Institute and Juilliard School graduate.
April 14, 2013 |
With the orchestral repertoire as wide and deep as the sea, orchestras don't need to go out and borrow pieces from other realms. But some melodies are too good to pass up, and so the Philadelphia Orchestra reached into chamber music for Friday afternoon's concert, returning with a transcription of Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence . The appeal is obvious: you can whistle every tune. The transcription - by double-bass pedagogue Lucas Drew, presumably to give his instrument a part where there was none - is a fine one, billowing up string sextet into string orchestra.
November 17, 2012 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra was performing the score of Alexander Nevsky live as the film screened long before visual add-ons became the imperative of the orchestra experience they are today. The current performances in Verizon Hall are, in fact, the third coincidence at the orchestra of Prokofiev's music and Eisenstein's film (the others were in 1988 and 1997). What was so striking Thursday night about the combination was imagining what would have been lost in a recorded-soundtrack iteration.
February 11, 2012 |
PRINCETON - Recovering lost, minor works by major composers can seem a bit pathetic: If the music wasn't worth hanging on to in the first place, how great can the rewards be? Yet the work being done on Sergei Prokofiev by Princeton University scholar Simon Morrison suggests, increasingly, that this is one composer who rewards most any hunt. Prokofiev's 1936 collaboration with writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky in a stage adaptation of Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin was stillborn, partly because the writer was falling out of favor with the Soviet government.