October 16, 2006 |
Music speaks to the troubled times in which it was written, though the instances when it addresses its contemporary audiences with unflinching directness are special chapters in history reserved for, say, Kurt Weill in soon-to-be-Nazi Germany and Dmitri Shostakovich in Stalinist Russia. Not so expectedly, Philadelphia-based Michael Hersch took his place among them with his two-hour, 50-part, full-evening piano work, "The Vanishing Pavilions. " Premiered on Saturday under the auspices of Network for New Music, the piece represented a summation of the great but disturbing symphonic and chamber works he has written during the last 10 years.
October 4, 1987 |
The Schubert song cycles have gradually become the province of the recording rather than the concert hall. One reason is that there seem to be fewer recitals; another is that many singers find it more profitable, commercially and musically, to learn another operatic role than to polish a long song cycle. German baritone Olaf Baer is the latest to record such a cycle, Die schone Mullerin, with pianist Geoffrey Parsons (EMI CDC7-47947 2). The 20 songs that trace the story of romantic longing and final disappointment are a microcosm of Schubert's world of song.
November 20, 2003 |
Though only a few weeks old, composer Libby Larsen's latest whatever - string quartet? song cycle? hybrid? - can have its uniqueness safely proclaimed, both now and in the foreseeable future, when it's likely to be all the more loved for being one of a kind. Titled This Unbearable Stillness: Songs From the Balcony, the piece was premiered locally by the Cassatt String Quartet and soprano Eileen Strempel on Tuesday at Irvine Auditorium, and was inspired by poems (in English) of Dima Hilal and Sekeena Shaben from the contemporary anthology The Poetry of Arab Women.
March 6, 2002 |
The sea has inspired the artistic imagination forever. The very vastness of that world contains whatever an artist wishes to draw out of it. In the case of composer Robert Capanna, the sea and its environs are a dark and ominous place of shipwrecks and ravenous birds. In his song cycle Songs of an Ancient Mariner, which premiered Sunday afternoon at PNC Bank's Presser Recital Hall, Capanna conjures the dangerous, mysterious ocean of Melville's words and Homer's canvases. Songs of an Ancient Mariner, scored for string quartet and baritone, consists of 26 songs divided into three books.
March 18, 2015 |
Songs are not what Kile Smith is known for amid a high-concept output that includes sacred choral works and new music for ancient instrument. But his 45-minute song cycle In This Blue Room , written as composer-in-residence to Lyric Fest, returns to what he calls his creative center - though in a project full of conceptual gymnastics. Premiere performances by Lyric Fest (Friday in Chestnut Hill and Sunday at Academy of Vocal Arts) had their creative starting point in the batik paintings of Laura Pritchard, most of them portraits that suggest distant Modigliani influences refracted through a playful sensibility and rich, often-blue-based palette.
April 19, 2015 |
Even the greatest artists have performances in which all the right things happen but the core experience just isn't there. The surprise with soprano Dorothea Röschmann is how that can happen from piece to piece, not just in her Wednesday recital with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, but in past recordings. Anticipation ran high for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Kimmel Center; two such notable artists collaborate infrequently. And in the Perelman Theater, they were heard in one of the more intimate auditoriums this side of London's Wigmore Hall on this duo's six-concert tour.
April 25, 1991 |
A badly out-of-tune piano at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square sabotaged a concert Tuesday evening by Sonus, a trio of piano, voice and flute from Baltimore. The situation grew worse as the evening wore on, and by the time Daron Hagen's Dear Youth came around, the problematic intonation had created a sense of disorientation that gripped listeners and performers alike. The work's harmonies are complex, so we'll probably have to wait until the song cycle is performed under more favorable circumstances to get a complete and accurate sense of what the music is really about.
May 7, 2004 |
Encountering a voice such as Stephanie Blythe's in a room as small as the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater is one of those experiences you're never prepared for - like happening upon an erupting volcano. At close range, Blythe doesn't seize you in the fashion of Ewa Podles, whose vocal force is confrontational in its penetrating strangeness. Blythe is about vocal lushness layered into a single sound, not dissimilar to voices you've heard, but much deeper, and so fluid it's like a genie that can fit into most any bottle.
May 12, 2012 |
Though the program had its oddities and performances could be tentative, Christian Gerhaher left no doubt Thursday at his Philadelphia debut recital that he possesses a Stradivarius among voices and is one of the most cultivated singers in the new generation of German art-song interpreters. You could have guessed that by the Andras Schiff stamp of approval: The in-demand pianist only occasionally accompanies singers, but there he was, playing a secondary role to this Bavaria-born baritone, so little known in the United States.
January 15, 1993 |
It is easy to identify with the narrator of Schumann's song cycle, the Dichterliebe, "because we all have problems with love and jealousy," German baritone Olaf Baer said this week. "Love is an experience you have to make. It sounds a bit basic, but one should understand that love is the most important thing, and that is what you keep even if you lose some people or have a partner that leaves you - in the end, love remains. And that is the feeling you might have at the end of the Dichterliebe, this feeling that love for nature, for each other, not only for man and woman, remains.