October 10, 2003 |
Alban Berg's Violin Concerto is one of those rare works that you don't just hear but travel through, on a gripping, soulful journey. Its white-hot emotions demonstrate the power of inspiration, and the personal utterances of the violin against Berg's complex palette in the orchestra. The piece chronicles the life of Manon Gropius, a close friend whose death by tuberculosis at age 18 devastated the composer. Between bookends of darkness, we first see her sensitivity and girlish vivacity, then chaos and, pivoting after a few bars of the Bach chorale "Est is genug!"
February 22, 1986 |
The Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 makes an event of a concert, and its appearance on the Philadelphia Orchestra's program yesterday reaffirmed its magic. Shlomo Mintz was the soloist this time, his playing high-strung and propelled by demons. Erich Leinsdorf, on the podium, was less fired by the music, and in that division lay the sense of stress and occasional grayness that sometimes crowded into the performance. Mintz, playing an instrument that penetrates orchestral fabric cleanly, found in this music the basis for displaying his technical sureness and incisive rhythmic gift.
February 26, 2007 |
Music as dense, difficult and willfully strange as Gyorgy Ligeti's Violin Concerto doesn't often inspire such an active performance track record so early on. Premiered in 1992, the piece has been recorded thrice, has toured with the Berlin Philharmonic, and has been played at Royal Albert Hall. Yet when Orchestra 2001 took it over the weekend in Philadelphia and Swarthmore, the piece was revealed in ways more important than some of its higher-profile performances. Although composed on a scale nearly the size of the Brahms and Bartok violin concertos, the piece communicates so much more effectively in a venue as small as Swarthmore's Lang Concert Hall.
November 30, 1996 |
It takes a brave man to make a quiet end. People like things to end with a bang, but Krzysztof Penderecki brings his new Second Violin Concerto to a halt with the violinist sustaining a long sigh, as if shushing the orchestra and audience. Chantal Juillet played the concerto beautifully with the Philadelphia Orchestra last night, leaving attentive expressions on the faces of many in the sparsely filled Academy of Music. The conductor composed the work between 1992 and 1995. Simple patterns form the melodies in a work whose dominant quality is intense searching.
July 12, 1991 |
It was the debut choice last night of Anne Akiko Meyers, 21-year-old Californian who played with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Music Center. James DePreist conducted. It was the correct choice for her, for she has a decided gift for narrative and for unadorned expressivity. The piece opens as if much had already been said, leaving only some musing and concluding dialogue for violin and orchestra. Yet in that role of rational discussant, Meyers used her dark tone and urgent manner to waken some potent moments in the music.
April 19, 1987 |
Violinist Viktoria Mullova's musical parachute has billowed brightly since she bailed out of the Soviet Union four years ago. The Tchaikovsky Competition winner in 1982, she found her way quickly into the flow of the soloist's life in the West. Now she has found her way to the recording studio to record the piece she has been playing everywhere since her defection, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (Philips 416 821-1). Winning the Tchaikovsky Competition tends to force the Tchaikovsky concertos on the winners - as pianist Van Cliburn discovered - but playing such familiar fare presses great responsibility on each new winner.
June 10, 2009 |
New concertos pop up so frequently that composers worry that they're turning into concerto machines. The venerable Elliott Carter is up to 11, the reliable Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has written eight, and Jennifer Higdon has followed up her breakthrough Concerto for Orchestra with seven more works in that medium, most recently a Violin Concerto that has had so many performances that abundance of supply clearly hasn't lessened demand. The piece's East Coast premiere Saturday with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop followed its February premiere by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, as well as performances in Toronto; Lucerne, Switzerland; and Liverpool, England, where Hilary Hahn (for whom the piece was written)
February 18, 2005 |
It's always a special treat when one of the Philadelphia Orchestra musicians has the opportunity to solo. This weekend, concertmaster David Kim steps forward to play the revered Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with his customary finesse. Conductor laureate Wolfgang Sawallisch, who led a glorious program last weekend, returns to accompany Kim and lead two works close to his heart, the Hindemith Concert Music for Strings and Brass, and Beethoven's First Symphony (2 p.m. today and 8 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets, $9-$69.
March 14, 2005 |
The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra arrived at the Kimmel Center Friday with three obvious distinctions: It launched the international career of conductor Mariss Jansons, is currently hosting what will probably be the last full-time orchestral appointment of 75-year-old Andr? Previn (who conducts the current tour), and may well be the blondest orchestra on the planet. From there, you can say that the orchestra doesn't play like stereotypical blondes - how could it with Strauss' gargantuan Alpine Symphony on the program - but hasn't a great deal of personality (even though performances were personable)
April 30, 2007 |
At the Kimmel Center Saturday night, it was theoretically possible to hear Beethoven's Violin Concerto twice. Julia Fischer was in the big hall, Verizon, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Fischer, at a ridiculously young 23, is the most highly polished violinist you're likely to encounter, and already near the top of an international career. In the smaller hall, Perelman, Astral Artistic Services was hosting Korbinian Altenberger, 25, who played the Beethoven with the Haddonfield Symphony Chamber Orchestra.