January 28, 2014 |
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.
January 21, 2014 |
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.
January 21, 2014 |
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)
December 11, 2013 |
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.
September 25, 2013 |
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.
August 11, 2013 |
In its 10 years, Symphony in C's summer camp for South Jersey middle and high school musicians has provided training to more than 500 students. For two weeks each summer, the whine of violins, the clanging of cymbals, and the sounds of tinny horns have filled the halls of Rutgers-Camden. But this year, that rehearsal music sounds a little sweeter, and the coordinators and campers are relishing in it a bit more, knowing that the camp, two weeks of intensive training in orchestra and band instruments, almost didn't happen.
December 7, 2012 |
They just couldn't let him go. As Gustavo Dudamel basked in audience love along with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela Wednesday night, a few in Verizon Hall unfurled Venezuelan flags and shouted suggested encores. "After this huge piece," the conductor said in the wake of a Strauss tone poem, "we're getting old. " Who knew about this gift for being coy? The audience got its encore, and then another. People come to classical music for all kinds of reasons - thank goodness - and this audience came to connect with youth, energy, and Venezuelan pride.
December 6, 2012 |
Sometimes, the Philadelphia Orchestra needs an outsider to remind it of who it is and what it was. Gianandrea Noseda - a guest conductor so popular with the orchestra that he was reengaged for a two-week stint this season starting Thursday (with other return visits in the works) - happens to be the foremost Rachmaninoff specialist of his generation. This week, he's conducting that composer's Symphony No. 2 Thursday through Saturday at the Kimmel Center with what is generally considered to be "Rachmaninoff's orchestra.
May 8, 2012 |
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)
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.