July 3, 2015 |
A 20-year-old Curtis Institute of Music student is the top winner of the venerable International Tchaikovsky Competition in the violin category. Yu-Chien "Benny" Tseng won the silver medal, second prize, in the Moscow competition, whose results were announced Wednesday. No gold award was given this year, which is not unusual. The Taipei-born violinist came to Curtis in 2008, and the following summer, at age 14, played Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center.
June 26, 2015 |
Tchaikovsky was unstoppable at the Philadelphia Orchestra's return Tuesday to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in the annual 1812 Overture performance with fireworks, though the program was curtailed due to the violent thunderstorm that hit two hours before concert time. After an early-evening power failure, Peco restored the lights - lots of them, along with a trio of new video screens in the rear lawn - although only for a limited time, pending the rebooting necessary for repairs elsewhere in the area.
January 31, 2015 |
In a somewhat unconventional program, Yannick Nézet-Séguin led the Philadelphia Orchestra through the lighter side of Shostakovich - assuming there actually is one. Even when the composer seems to be kidding around, his music hints at something subversive, that the music means much more than it says, and what it says is always dangling out of reach. That's why you want to hear it again. The objects of curiosity Wednesday at the Kimmel Center were Shostakovich's seldom-heard Piano Concerto No. 2 and music for the film The Gadfly - paired with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 - creating a provocative conclusion to the St. Petersburg Festival that could have been less convincing had performances not been so purposeful.
January 18, 2015 |
Under many circumstances, the Philadelphia Orchestra's St. Petersburg Festival might seem like a desperate attempt to coax music lovers out of their warm homes and into the Kimmel Center with programs that dip deep into Russian crowd-pleasing repertoire, such as a suite from The Nutcracker . Yet on Thursday, the first installment of this multiweek festival more than pulled its artistic weight, thanks to thoughtfully positioned Tchaikovsky and...
January 14, 2015 |
Having had some of his best successes with Tchaikovsky symphonies, conductor Rossen Milanov gave his Symphony in C ensemble a more complicated challenge on Saturday night: the Manfred Symphony , which stands apart from the composer's numbered works in that medium and, for all its grandeur, has a white-elephant reputation that may or may not be expungeable. Ambitious, imposing, and full of the literary underpinnings of Lord Byron's dramatic poem "Manfred," the symphony isn't first-rate Tchaikovsky, though it can sound like it when played with interventionist conviction.
January 8, 2015 |
Hilary Hahn has been such a solid performer over the years that her cancellation of summer and fall concerts due to muscle strain seemed unthinkable. Sometimes, the more vague the cause, the scarier it is: Remember how Murray Perahia's years of physical problems began with a mere paper cut? Yet Monday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert (which came roughly a month after Hahn resumed concertizing) showed her at full strength: She had to be, with Tchaikovsky's epic Piano Trio Op. 50 in a first-time collaboration with pianist Natalie Zhu (a longtime musical friend)
October 12, 2014 |
The less you see in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta , the more the opera has to offer - and not because the plot revolves around a blind-from-birth princess. So anybody disappointed at the semi-staged production at the Curtis Opera Theatre at Prince Music Theater this weekend should know that this lovely little opera has much to say beyond its immediate story. Although it came from the great period of Tchaikovsky's creativity that gave birth to Symphony No. 6, Iolanta tends to slip through the cracks.
May 25, 2014 |
ALL GOOD THINGS come to an end. The Wise Guys could cry about that, but they'd really rather sing. On Sunday, the Wise Guys - eight intellectually disabled adults who have been singing, dancing and rocking out almost as long as Aerosmith - will hold a farewell concert at the Cardinal Krol Center. Owned by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, it's a residential community in Springfield, Delaware County, where the Wise Guys live with more than 100 other men similarly impaired. The center is closing, the men to be dispersed to small group homes.
April 16, 2014 |
Sometimes a thank-you note just won't do. And so the Curtis Institute of Music dedicated Sunday night's Curtis Symphony Orchestra concert in Verizon Hall to Marguerite and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, whose philanthropic support of the school has eclipsed all before it. Having the orchestra do the honors was apt, since it was Gerry Lenfest, who is part-owner of the company that publishes The Inquirer and who is stepping down as board chair June 1, who...
March 12, 2014 |
"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.