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ENTERTAINMENT
January 3, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Legend has it that a favorite drinking game of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was to spend the evening prodigiously imbibing with friends, after which one of them would be abruptly shut into a closet for 15 minutes or so. Then, from the other side of the door, the closeted partyer was ordered to give the full names of the people with whom he had spent the evening. Just to see if he was too hammered to do so. Or had passed out. No wonder Sibelius never finished his Symphony No. 8 . But now, perhaps, others can. Sketches - some of them orchestrated - have been identified as probably being from the symphony that occupied him from 1927 until his death in 1957.
NEWS
October 5, 2009 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Shostakovich's 1943 Symphony No. 8 is one in a handful of works that fathom the trauma of the 20th century with a boldness and originality so fearless that it's not often performed around here. However compelling Symphony in C's performance was on Saturday in Rutgers University-Camden's Gordon Theater, it went far to explain why: Once the steep musical challenges are met, you're entering a World War II-era abyss that not everyone (players or audience) can or will inhabit. Full of gargantuan war-inspired orchestral effects that prompt a visceral response from any alert musician, the symphony also requires a kind of life experience that the conservatory-age Symphony in C musicians can't be expected to have.
NEWS
May 8, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though only nine minutes away from Philadelphia by train, Symphony in C's Rutgers-Camden home is truly in another state, which is why the prospect of hearing Gyorgy Ligeti's Violin Concerto on Saturday at the Gordon Theater felt vaguely perilous. This post-conservatory orchestra and its soloist Augustin Hadelich could be counted on to meet the music's considerable demands. But what about the suburban audience? The outset was not promising: After a new orchestra piece by Roger Zare titled Green Flash (winner of the orchestra's annual Young Composers Competition)
ENTERTAINMENT
October 5, 2002 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The Bruckner symphonies, taken as a whole, always sound to me like a man asking the same question over and over again his entire life, only slightly reshuffling the wording each time. A very long-winded man. But somehow, his Symphony No. 3 - all 55 minutes of it - flew by Thursday night under the spell of Wolfgang Sawallisch. Great Bruckner is a gift, one that few living conductors possess. Right now, there might be no better place on earth to hear the symphonist's work than at Broad and Spruce.
NEWS
July 14, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
ATLANTIC CITY - Behind doors so richly red they glow even amid the glittering casino, the Borgata Resort's Music Box theater on Sunday evening will welcome something it wasn't built for: the Bay-Atlantic Symphony playing the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with superstar pianist Yuja Wang. There are no obvious explanations. "It's an eclectic age," says Jed Gaylin, the 17-year music director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony. "Classical music is no longer 'that stuff.' It's a change of pace.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 1988 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
The Philadelphia Orchestra's biggest recording project has just been completed. The release, on EMI, encompasses Beethoven's nine symphonies, plus three of his overtures on six discs in a box. They represent performances and recordings between October 1985 and February 1988 and much more besides. They stand to Riccardo Muti as a summary of the transformation he has effected with this orchestra since he became music director in 1980. A Beethoven set may seem an unlikely choice for a conductor so deeply involved with Italian opera, but Muti has consistently presented himself as a man with wide enthusiasm and knowledge.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 15, 2004 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
When in the grip of an obsession with Gustav Mahler's symphonies, there comes a time when you need to visit the composer's grave. Communing with J.S. Bach would logically take place in a church in Leipzig. For Erik Satie, it's a cabaret in Montmartre. But Mahler was the first to admit that he never really belonged in Vienna or New York, whose musical lives he transformed. Given the preoccupation with death that haunts his 10 symphonies and dozens of songs - as a child, he wanted to grow up to be a martyr, and as an adult, he wrote the irregular rhythm of his diseased heart into his last completed symphony - all roads to his spirit lead to the cemetery.
NEWS
September 22, 1986 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
Given the admiring friendship of Mozart and Haydn, it seemed reasonable for the Mozart Society to open its season last night with a concert of Haydn's music at the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany. The chamber orchestra, conducted by Davis Jerome, played the alpha and (almost) omega of Haydn's orchestral works, the Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 102. By playing works composed 35 years apart, Jerome underlined the steady growth in means that marked Haydn's long career. That first symphony was rather square and formal, but it contained, in its older style, the seeds of the mature work.
NEWS
July 23, 1990 | By Lesley Valdes, Inquirer Music Critic
Vincent d'Indy's reputation within French music circles is sometimes likened to Brahms' within the German. Why, then, are the prolific Frenchman's pleasurable scores so rarely played? Maybe we don't bother with him because American listeners, as Francophile composer Ned Rorem maintains, have been suckled on the thicker syrups of romance. Effervescence, as in the burbling Symphony on a French Mountain Air, doesn't stick to the bone. Whatever the reason, I have not lately heard (have you?
ENTERTAINMENT
July 11, 2002 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA at Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue. 8 tonight. Tickets: $10-$68. Info: 215-893-1999. Conductor Carlos Kalmar finishes up his Mann week with two revered works from the center of the repertory. He's chosen the Symphony No. 2 by Jan Sibelius, the most familiar of seven by a composer with close ties to this orchestra. Its Finnish heart, full of long-spun melodies that erupt like flowers through wintry ice, and a triumphant finale, has made this symphony an audience favorite for a century.
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ENTERTAINMENT
September 10, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Throughout much of Macy's department store in Center City, "20 percent off" signs added to the celebratory air of Symphony in C's concert on Saturday night, scheduled immediately after closing time, in yet another of its mountain-comes-to-Muhammad collaborations with the fabled Wanamaker organ. Known as one of the biggest and grandest working instruments of its kind, the Wanamaker organ is mostly heard as a musical world unto itself in noontime concerts that range from classical to show tunes.
NEWS
July 14, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
ATLANTIC CITY - Behind doors so richly red they glow even amid the glittering casino, the Borgata Resort's Music Box theater on Sunday evening will welcome something it wasn't built for: the Bay-Atlantic Symphony playing the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with superstar pianist Yuja Wang. There are no obvious explanations. "It's an eclectic age," says Jed Gaylin, the 17-year music director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony. "Classical music is no longer 'that stuff.' It's a change of pace.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 7, 2014 | By Daniel Webster, For The Inquirer
Symphony in C ended its season Saturday with two works that demand explanation bracketing a work that requires none at all. The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto glowed in the middle of this program like a jewel in a forest of vines and dark leaves. But those outer works insisted on the closest attention, for both Schumann's late Manfred Overture and Arnold Schoenberg's orchestration of Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor lurk at the edge of the repertoire, posing stylistic questions and interpretive gestures.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 12, 2014 | By Daniel Webster, For The Inquirer
"Public intimacy" is social media's contribution to our oxymoronic life, but guitarists have grappled with the concept since the first one faced an audience. The instrument draws the heart into the fingertips, which bare the greatest intimacy in a whisper of sound. Place the guitar in front of an orchestra of 60, and logic - and intimacy - may vanish completely. Amplification has balanced those forces, particularly in recordings, and the guitar has gathered a bundle of concertos that revel in the sonorities of plucked strings, exuberant brass, and richly carpeted strings.
NEWS
March 3, 2014 | By Jonathan Lai, Inquirer Staff Writer
WARMINSTER Preparing a newly formed group of more than 100 high school musicians for a performance in less than three days takes guts. When that performance includes Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and an entire Dvorak symphony, it also requires practice. Unyielding hours of it. "It was a little intimidating at first," said Cindy Yeo, 15, a sophomore cellist at Germantown Friends School. "It's an intense little thing, it's not a prolonged thing. " Yeo was one of 117 students from more than 40 schools in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties who performed Saturday afternoon at William Tennent High School in Warminster.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 28, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though technically a half-debut, Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first outing with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra didn't actually happen until the Sunday program's second half. But a good 80 minutes of Shostakovich - in a piece that musically encompasses much of World War II - easily counted as a concert in itself. The Symphony No. 7 Op. 60 ("Leningrad") is just the sort of thing that's been absent from the current Philadelphia Orchestra season - a long, serious, not traditionally ingratiating piece that audiences may or may not take to, especially as it needs a performance with a well-examined strategy.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Celebrating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the concert hall has never been easy. Where do you start? His activism? Culture? The poetry behind his ideals? In a rare appearance at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Orchestra 2001 under James Freeman celebrated King on Saturday in any way it could: major new works by Richard Danielpour and Jay Fluellen plus the youthful Play On, Philly! Orchestra and a gospel choir, all of which will be repeated at 3 p.m. Sunday at Swarthmore College's Lang Concert Hall.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2014 | Daniel Webster, For The Inquirer
At a mossy table deep in the conductors' forest of shadows, one challenges the others to map programs all starting with horn solos. At least that seemed a possible gestation point for Rossin Milanov, who emerged from the (imagined) woods with his program Saturday in the Symphony in C concert at the Gordon Theater in Camden. Other less-mysterious relationships evolved, too, but principal hornist Audrey Flores set the tone for works by Ravel, Britten, and Schubert. She was soloist in Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings , the lyrical first voice in Ravel's Pavane , and the sturdy standard-bearer in Schubert's Symphony No. 9 . Britten's Serenade (from 1943)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 2013 | By Daniel Webster, For The Inquirer
Mozart's last three symphonies are invariably introduced as "great," and many symphonic performances translate the word as dimensional, connoting magnitude. Symphony in C, at its Saturday reading of the Symphony No. 41 at Rutgers-Camden, chose to translate it as "transcendent. " Rossen Milanov, leading the youthful orchestra in a Mozart-focused program, traced the intricate lines that appear and vary, finally coalescing into an image so powerful in its clarity that the weight of sound was almost incidental.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra has been such a constant presence in Philadelphia Orchestra programs from the 1940s on, one easily forgets what a steep challenge it can be for musicians playing it for the first time - no doubt the case with many Symphony in C members who credibly and sometimes thrillingly took on the piece in Camden Saturday. Written on borrowed time when the composer was fatally ill and thought his composing life was over, the Concerto for Orchestra lives up to its title by challenging every corner of the symphony orchestra, but in ways so consolidated and distilled that virtuoso flourishes are few, hiding places even fewer.
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