March 12, 2013 |
Although orchestra programs are set years in advance, they sometimes presage events in a way that makes them frighteningly relevant by the time they reach the stage. Rudolf Buchbinder's appearance Friday night with the Philadelphia Orchestra so soon after Wolfgang Sawallisch's death brought symbolic as well as practical significance. After the conductor became too ill to return for his laureate duties, the Viennese pianist, a close Sawallisch associate, would often arrive here as soloist with the maestro's greeting in hand.
March 4, 2013 |
Wolfgang Sawallisch was in poor health for so long that his recent death was like that moment when, after watching a flame diminish over a long period, it finally flickers to darkness. Until it totally disappears, you believe, if just a little bit, that through some miracle it might one day reverse its decline and burn bright again. In its own way, the Sawallisch flame endures. The conductor, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1993 to 2003, gave his last concert in Philadelphia in 2005.
March 1, 2013
By Joseph Neubauer Nearly 20 years ago, I traveled to Germany to meet with Wolfgang Sawallisch to discuss our desire to engage him as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. We sat in his garden surrounded by evergreens and mountains stretching off into the distance. At the time, the orchestra was facing a number of challenges. Concert attendance was falling. Recording contracts and broadcasting opportunities were evaporating. Arts programs had been eliminated in schools, and our audiences were growing older and older.
February 26, 2013 |
Wolfgang Sawallisch, 89, the German maestro who defied expectations by taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 70 and remaking it into perhaps the most assured blend of orchestral polish and power in the United States, died Friday evening at home in Grassau outside Munich, according to a statement from the Bavarian State Opera. He had been stricken in recent years by a number of diseases and conditions. Mr. Sawallisch, only the orchestra's sixth music director in a century, succeeded the dashing, controversial Riccardo Muti in 1993.
November 19, 2011 |
There's no getting around the fact that what makes the Philadelphia Orchestra the Philadelphia Orchestra is a certain skillful manipulation of sound. And why would you want to get around it? This trademark sonority, much remarked on over the years, is a dear asset. With change in the air at the orchestra and so much at stake, this seems a good moment for an identity verification. "There is no such thing as the Philadelphia sound. The sound is the sound of the conductor," Eugene Ormandy reportedly once said.
September 2, 2010 |
This time, the journey to the summit of Strauss' Alpine Symphony is obscured by fog and slowed by mud - which shouldn't happen when the trail guide is the Philadelphia Orchestra. The orchestra's 2008 performance of the Strauss tone poem was highly acclaimed when recorded live in Verizon Hall; some even pinpointed the Alpine Symphony as the moment when current chief conductor Charles Dutoit claimed the Philadelphia Orchestra as his own. But though the lavishly scored piece is the flagship release in the orchestra's reentry into the recording market on high-profile websites - with 35-plus titles that include Shostakovich conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, Beethoven symphonies led by Christoph Eschenbach, and distinguished guests such as Vladimir Jurowski and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos - one could argue that it should never have been released.
July 28, 2010 |
It began like almost any other orchestra summer idyll, with Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture . And then, with the middle movement of a Mozart piano concerto, Tuesday night's Philadelphia Orchestra concert at the Mann Center suddenly took on rare auras of celebrity, politics, and the general idea that history of a sort was in the making. The source of the extra-musical messaging was the soloist: Condoleezza Rice, former national security advisor, 66th U.S. secretary of state and public face of the Bush 43 administration.
June 14, 2010 |
Some conductors believe, above all, in the Rehearsal. They balance and tune chords, bring out some voices and subdue others. They charm and educate players with spoken poetry and imagery to achieve various effects. They even make adjustments in response to the acoustics of a particular hall. Others do plenty of preparation in rehearsal, but the main thing they bring to the party is a performance pumped with energy. Conductors on the highest level are a substantive amalgamation of the two: They did their homework before curtain time, and they have the skillful gestures to write new ideas in performance and the sensitivity to react spontaneously to events (good and bad)
June 13, 2010 |
Some conductors believe, above all, in The Rehearsal. They balance and tune chords, bring out some voices and subdue others, they charm and educate players with spoken poetry and imagery to achieve various effects. They even make adjustments in response to the acoustic of a particular hall. Others do plenty of preparation in rehearsal, but the main thing they bring to the party is a performance pumped with energy. Conductors operating on the highest level are a substantive amalgamation of the two - they did their homework before curtain time, and they have the skillful gestures to write new ideas in performance and the sensitivity to react spontaneously to events (good and bad)
May 4, 2010 |
Tang Zhongxuan remembers the night after the earthquake, when sleeping indoors was no longer safe but outside the rain had arrived. Thousands were dead, and more than half the town's buildings had been destroyed; his own home was skewed and teetering. But he, his wife, and their 8-month-old baby were uninjured, so the 32-year-old English teacher found two trees, tied ropes between them, and created shelter with a blanket - their home for the next three weeks. Tang considered himself lucky.