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Fisher Center, Bard Summerscape 2015
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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Music sub categories : Contemporary Music, Early Music, etc. and Recordings

Thumbnail : Charles Dutoit conducts The San Francisco Symphony in Stravinsky, Elgar, and Mussorgsky/Ravel, with Gautier Capuçon, Cello

Charles Dutoit conducts The San Francisco Symphony in Stravinsky, Elgar, and Mussorgsky/Ravel, with Gautier Capuçon, Cello

It’s hard to recall a time when Stravinsky’s music carried with it the suggestion of impossible modernism. But it did—once. The appearance of Petrouchka on TV in 1960 made the viewer feel quite daring, I remember. It was “dissonant.” And the Rite of Spring, with all those purpose-led insect lives and braying jurassic fossils was just plain intimidating. Little did we know then that dinosaurs were merely large chickens and Stravinsky himself, if not exactly a pussycat, then about as threatening as a Russian wolfhound on Stupid Pet Tricks.

Thumbnail : Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and L’Orfeo by BEMF at Jordan Hall

Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and L’Orfeo by BEMF at Jordan Hall

The recent biennial weeklong Boston Early Music Festival (June 14-21) drew unusual attention for presenting full stagings of all three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas (OrfeoThe Return of UlyssesThe Coronation of Poppea) plus the Vespers of 1610. This in addition to the Festival’s usual 9 a.m. to midnight concerts of a great variety of music from the Middle Ages to Bach, featuring noted performers from all over the world. Enthusiasm ran high all week and audiences were large, especially for the Monteverdi events.

Thumbnail : Introducing Weiyin Chen, who will play Bartók, Marc Neikrug, and Schubert at SubCulture on June 13

Introducing Weiyin Chen, who will play Bartók, Marc Neikrug, and Schubert at SubCulture on June 13

Last January I heard part of quite a thrilling chamber concert at SubCulture. The Mirò Quartet, which I have reviewed favorably in the past, excelled themselves in an all-Brahms concert with a young Taiwanese-American pianist I had not heard before, Weiyin Chen. Her playing showed maturity, a deep identification with  the music, in this case Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C Minor and Piano Quintet, an extensive range of color and feeling, strength, and seriousness. The Mirò played with a electric intensity I’ve not heard from them before. This was in fact the second concert of a three-part debut series she has organized for SubCulture.

Thumbnail : Michael Tilson Thomas Leads the San Francisco Symphony in Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” Symphony and Mahler’s Fourth

Michael Tilson Thomas Leads the San Francisco Symphony in Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” Symphony and Mahler’s Fourth

There is a sound you sometimes feel after midnight, high up in Manhattan. It comes from maybe thirty blocks away. Very faint. In the stillness of your mind, you know it is a lonely taxi horn dancing with the doppler effect. But in the small hours of the city, you wonder who might be riding home amongst sleeping millions, and how boozily, and what love affairs or personal dramas might now begin or end. New York is like that. In its darkness, taxis are crickets, and you listen.

Thumbnail : Excitement at the Boston Symphony—Lots of It! But Questions Remain

Excitement at the Boston Symphony—Lots of It! But Questions Remain

The perfect word to describe Andris Nelsons’ conducting is “exciting.” He elicits spectacular playing from the Boston Symphony and knows how to mold the sound of the orchestra to his taste. The strings now sound rich, deep, and solid rather than airy, transparent and elegant, as was their traditional, French–flavored style. This works well in a German-Russian program; I am curious to hear what they (Nelsons and the orchestra) will do with canonical French material such as the orchestral works of​ Ravel.

Thumbnail : Vasily Petrenko Conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich, with Sa Chen, Piano

Vasily Petrenko Conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich, with Sa Chen, Piano

Concerts this good have become our norm and good fortune in twenty-first century America—especially in San Francisco. We are used to charismatic conducting, to fine piano debuts, to engaged orchestral playing and the rediscovery of great neglected symphonies. What differs from time to time is the realization that a performer may not only be accomplished, or even inspiring, but one of a kind. I begin to think Vasily Petrenko is such an artist.

Thumbnail : The Winter of Our Discontent: Classical Music in Boston 

The Winter of Our Discontent: Classical Music in Boston 

As everyone in New England knows, this winter was one long slog. But significant musical events actually got to take place, and some of these have been exceptional. But many have been frustrating and disappointing.

Thumbnail : Michael Tilson Thomas conducts The London Symphony Orchestra in Colin Matthews, Gershwin (with Yuja Wang), and Shostakovich

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts The London Symphony Orchestra in Colin Matthews, Gershwin (with Yuja Wang), and Shostakovich

If you feel pursued by good luck, do we call it paranoia? This is the question I must answer lately, since it seems the London Symphony has chased me down in San Francisco—to my great delight!

Just a month ago, I had the good fortune of hearing Sir Mark Elder lead the orchestra in a solid Pathétique at the Barbican. By the time my visit was over, I had experienced the Berlin Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Philharmonia and the London Philharmonic, as well. What puzzled throughout all this listening was the difficulty of telling the orchestras apart in London’s Barbican and Festival Hall, clinical modern venues with limited reverberation and bass.

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A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.