March 25, 2010 |
Roof-rattling performances of Mahler symphonies aren't exactly unknown in these parts. So what set the Mahler Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") performance apart from most Tuesday at the Kimmel Center was not its majesty (not to be blase about that) but its fully realized point of view. That, perhaps, could come only from decades of Mahler performance tradition and a long relationship between conductor and players - Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Every micro-phase in this massive, 90-minute work for large orchestra, chorus, and vocal soloists was crystallized in sound, manner, and gesture.
December 14, 2009 |
Symphony in C was only a fraction of its usual size on Saturday, but not because of New Jersey State Council on the Arts budget cuts last week. The long-planned program built around Baroque-period specialist Julianne Baird called for smaller forces - no consolation for the $194,000 in grants, awarded in July, that are now officially frozen with little indication of when (if ever) they'll thaw. That's 20 percent of the orchestra's $900,000 budget, and because grants encourage immediate spending, staff has been hired, concerts announced, and subscriptions sold.
October 9, 2009 |
(Warning: This article contains mild video game jargon which may be unintelligible to some parents.) Pong; Pizzicato. Tetris; Triangle. OutRun; Orchestra. Game over. There's a little more to it, but that's the general cheat code for Video Games Live, the multimedia riff on video games playing two shows Sunday at the Kimmel Center. The format marries two unlikely cultural phenomena: the very old and struggling-for-relevance symphony orchestra with the small and inscrutable glowing box you can't seem to pry from your 9-year-old's hands.
October 5, 2009 |
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.
September 22, 2009 |
Few conductors have gone beyond the outer edges of Franz Josef Haydn's vast continent of symphonies in this 200th anniversary year of his death. As great as it is to hear programs that mainstream Haydn - Mariss Jansons pairs Symphony No. 100 ("Military") with Shostakovich's portrait of military-dominated Russia in his Symphony No. 10 - the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia's Ignat Solzhenitsyn went deep into Haydn's heartland with Symphonies Nos. 16 and 49 in the season's opening concert.
August 9, 2009 |
His supple hands would be the envy of a violinist of 30. Which Jerome Wigler was - 59 years ago. At 89, Wigler is the oldest full-time musician at the Philadelphia Orchestra, and easily the oldest member of any of the nation's "Big Five" symphonies (New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia). He's been with the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1951, playing for the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Eugene Ormandy, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Igor Stravinsky.
June 11, 2009 |
Philadelphia-based conductor Rossen Milanov is now up to four orchestra positions, with his appointment this week to the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Best known as associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and music director of Camden's Symphony in C, Milanov was made music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in a series of announcements that assured he would not be giving up his current commitments. He reportedly is contracted for three years with the Princeton orchestra, which marks its 30th anniversary this season.
April 29, 2009 |
It was the end of the school year and the night before a Carnegie Hall gig with concert repertoire that thrives on heat. So the Curtis Symphony Orchestra was all but guaranteed to rearrange your hair Monday at the Kimmel Center, even without Paavo J?rvi. The ever-rising chief conductor of Orchestre de Paris and the other CSO (the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) canceled in the weeks following his drunken-driving arrest and ensuing court proceedings. More-than-capable Michael Stern led the heavy 2 1/2-hour program that was most notable for Prokofiev's Sinfonia concertante (Op. 125)
April 18, 2009 |
Stokowski would have loved it. In his vague accent, he would have lauded it as classical music embracing new technology, a promising new future for an old art form. And to the extent that it brought attention to classical music, Wednesday night's debut in Carnegie Hall of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra must be considered a good thing. The orchestra, funded by Google, was created through a months-long process of online video auditions submitted by thousands of amateur and professional musicians around the world.
December 9, 2008 |
Ignat Solzhenitsyn finds his repertoire close to the heart. His programs with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia trace to some deeply personal event or connection. In the ensemble's concert Sunday at the Perelman Theater, he led the premiere of Vladimir Martynov's De Profundis, a work dedicated to his late father. But, in leading two of Mendelssohn's teenage symphonies, he was returning to his own student discoveries of these extraordinary pieces. These programs are a kind of self-portraiture.