October 10, 1999 |
How do you commemorate the recording life of one of the most recorded orchestras in history? In choosing tracks to celebrate the Philadelphia Orchestra's 100 years, the task was not to assemble the orchestra's most-famous or best-selling releases. It couldn't have been; the orchestra's output is too voluminous. Eugene Ormandy alone recorded 1,200 works with his pioneering ensemble. Amazon.com last week had 419 recordings listed that include the sounds of the Philadelphians, and those are just the CDs in print.
February 12, 2000 |
A program of Bach? How does this comply with the Philadelphia Orchestra's pledge to celebrate its 100 years by performing only works from "its century"? Strictly speaking, it was mostly Bach's spirit, in various potencies, that visited the program. The closest thing to real Bach were the four velvety Stokowski transcriptions with which Wolfgang Sawallisch ended Thursday night's concert. But Berg's luscious Violin Concerto, his last completed work, quotes a melody Bach used in his Cantata No. 60, and the piece falls nicely on this orchestra with its starry-night harp plucks and atmospheric and distinctly unpercussive percussion.
January 26, 2015 |
Headlining this year's Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball: Al Pacino. Al Pacino? The Academy's white-tie bash, its premier annual fund-raiser, has always trained its old-world spotlight on a big-name musical guest or two. This year's choice, though, is famous for being Michael Corleone in the Godfather films and Tony Montana in Scarface - in other words, characters whose violin cases might contain items other than a violin....
May 7, 1999 |
The English violinist Kennedy thinks the trappings of concert life are as superfluous and maybe as meaningless as a first name. In a career that has moved from the usual to the unusual, he has appeared with wildly dyed hair, haute-punk couture, and every gesture of challenge to the same old life onstage. He played his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra Wednesday, charming his audience with downscale nonchalance and upmarket playing. It was a pension fund concert. Wolfgang Sawallisch led one of the last concerts at the Academy of Music before the orchestra's Asian tour, offering music of such normality that a soloist with Asian clothing and vertical hair seemed much in order.
October 25, 1995 |
It's something of a civic embarrassment that only about 800 people turned out Monday night to hear the BBC Symphony Orchestra in its first appearance here since 1987. The British group was greeted with long stretches of empty red-velvet seats on the Academy of Music's parquet, with upper levels of the hall looking downright desolate. Perhaps the scant attendance was a fluke. There is certainly a built-in interest here in orchestras; we are, after all, home to one of the world's finest.
March 30, 1996 |
Every conductor must face a few ghosts now and again, as Andre Raphel Smith did yesterday afternoon at the Academy of Music. It was brave of the Philadelphia Orchestra's assistant conductor to have programmed works for his subscription series debut that are strongly associated with conductors past. Mention Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, for instance, and Stokowski immediately comes to mind. In 1934, Stoki and the Philadelphians gave its world premiere, with Rachmaninoff at the keyboard, and their famous recording of the piece cemented the bond between conductor and composer in the public's mind.
November 28, 1987 |
Yuri Temirkanov did his bit for East-West relations last night when he led the Philadelphia Orchestra in a stirring rendition of Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony (Op. 54). It was a performance almost as much fun to watch as it was stimulating to the ears, for the 49-year-old conductor has a canon of enthusiastic motions that in the Russian repertoire, at least, achieve striking effects. The current artistic director and chief conductor of the Kirov Opera, Temirkanov has not visited the Academy of Music for eight years.
July 23, 1990 |
Conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's visit this week with the Philadelphia Orchestra is more like a reunion: it's the 10th guest season for the leader of Manchester, England's, Halle Orchestra, and his long relationship with these players guarantees some solid music-making. TONIGHT Spanish pianist Alicia De Larrocha's interpretive gift makes her one of the world's most welcome artists. Her first project in a new RCA contract is a traversal of all 17 Mozart piano sonatas, so scheduling the Piano Concerto No. 23 seems natural.
April 17, 1998 |
Philadelphia's movers and shakers greeted the unveiling of the design for the Regional Performing Arts Center last night with sustained applause. And they greeted Mayor Rendell with a standing ovation. Next we find out if they like him so much with his hand in their pockets. Those in the well-dressed crowd at the Pennsylvania Convention Center sipped champagne and oohed and aahhed at the architectural models, but didn't look like they could cover the $77 million shortfall needed to build the thing.
July 8, 1994 |
Once upon a time, the majority of classical discs on the average living room shelf were by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Through the Stokowski and Ormandy eras, whether 78-, 45- or 33-rpm shellac or vinyl platters, this ensemble reigned supreme through its legendary wind and brass soloists and world-famous string section. The Philadelphians' level of playing remains superb, but these days hundreds of orchestras battle for the CD dollar. But a sudden pile of Philadelphia Orchestra CD releases by five conductors feels like a return to the dynasty days.