April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
April 4, 2012 |
Though Astral Artists has long been an alternative to competition-winning virtuosity, this young-artist organization's annual Kimmel Center showcase illuminates how much a genuine musical personality is a priority for being noticed; no longer are youthful charisma and great technical ability alone the ticket to a career. All three of the Astral artists on stage Monday night - flutist Angel Hsiao, clarinetist Benito Meza, and violinist Benjamin Beilman - revealed at least a nascent temperament, and often much more, in concertos that afforded comparisons with the best.
March 19, 2012 |
There might be mathematical formulae illuminating the refined relationships that tie a musical work together and infuse it with life, but it remains for the conductor to put the X's and Y's in the proper places. Such mathematical placement, however intuitive, is a strength of Rossen Milanov, who led music by Beethoven, Kodaly, and Brahms in the Symphony in C spring concert Saturday at Gordon Auditorium in Camden. The flow of rhythms and textures in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 were so easily placed that the performance was a lesson in logic.
January 15, 2012 |
Denali National Park and Preserve is in Alaska. Acadia is the old French name for what is now essentially New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Those two chunks of real estate are 3,000 miles apart, but that didn't keep those intrepid marketers at GMC from joining them in automotive matrimony. Actually, the Acadia Denali isn't really a bicoastal couple. It is the top-of-the-line rendition of GMC's large and largely pleasing crossover SUV. How top-of-the-line? Well, the base Acadia starts at $32,605.
January 7, 2012 |
Nobody should program Beethoven's perpetually overexposed Symphony No. 5 without sound reasons. But the Philadelphia Orchestra's guest conductor David Zinman has a claim on doing so, if only on the strength of his famous recordings with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich that have sold more than 1 million discs and showed the world how far a modern-instrument orchestra can go in approximating the manner and sound of period instruments. But the underlying brilliance of Zinman's Philadelphia Orchestra concert Friday was how he framed the symphony.
January 3, 2012 |
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.
December 20, 2011 |
Dirk Brossé may be gradually reshaping the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia into a mainly classical ensemble, but he is moving quickly to give the ensemble an air of informality. He steps to the podium, microphone in hand, to speak casually to the audience, and, Sunday in the holiday concert at the Perelman Theater, he introduced the new concertmistress, Miho Saegusa; the new principal viola, Beth Guterman; and four other new players. The soloist, hornist John David Smith, is also from the chamber orchestra.
October 28, 2011 |
OK, this is really getting ridiculous. When last we polished off a plate of oxtails at the Jamaican Jerk Hut, the venerable Caribbean eatery at 15th and South, owner Lisa Wilson was still waging a David-and-Goliath battle with residents of Symphony House, a 32-story luxury condominium complex at Broad and Spruce. Never mind that the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Common Pleas Court had both ruled in the Jerk Hut's favor: Namely, that Wilson could play live reggae music for her customers on the lot next to the restaurant on weekends in spring and summer.
August 29, 2011 |
ZURICH, Switzerland - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra are bound to have ships-that-pass-in-the-night moments on their tours of European festivals, and the first was at the Zurich Airport on Sunday morning: The Chicagoans were emerging from the arrivals section of the airport while the Philadelphians were two levels up, going through security and passport control. The Chicagoans were in transit to Lucerne from Salzburg, Austria, and the Philadelphians were shipping out from Lucerne to Dublin, Ireland, using the same buses and Air Berlin chartered airplane.
August 1, 2011 |
If you've ever had the urge to watch a woman twirl a large hoop around her tightly wrapped bun in time to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Dance of the Buffoons," Thursday night at the Mann Center was your chance. Not that it will be your last. Cirque de la Symphonie, a jolly entertainment that pits the Russian National Orchestra against acrobats, a contortionist, and one charming harlequin, is making the rounds. The concept isn't likely to leave anytime soon. The Philadelphia Orchestra has two dates this week with Cirque de la Symphonie at its summer site in Saratoga Springs, and its new strategic plan calls for development of a "cirque"-type show of its own. A Philadelphia take isn't likely to bring out Thursday's crowd of Russians and Ukrainians.