Tag Archive: Carnegie Hall

American Mavericks at Carnegie Hall, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Play Varèse, Cowell, Cage, and Adams

Edgard Varese

The reviews of three concerts and a dance performance you will find on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, one in San Francisco and three in New York, represent only a small part of the month-long festival, organized by Carnegie Hall under Michael Tilson Thomas’ direction, but including many other events scattered about the city at venues including the the Whitney, the Henry Street Settlement, the New York Public Library, and (le) Poisson Rouge. (Click here for a full listing. It should be noted that Michael Clark, reviewed here by Louise Levathes, is very much a maverick, although not an American.) I especially regret I couldn’t attend more of it, but I can take some consolation in referring you to WQXR’s expansive coverage of most aspects of the festival, with articles, interviews, and snippets of performances.)

Not Maverick Enough? San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas performing at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in the “American Mavericks” Festival

Michael Tilson Thomas’s “American Mavericks” concerts came to New York, centered on four programs at Carnegie Hall with the superb San Francisco Symphony, surrounded by a whirl of fringe events throughout the city. This was a bold and appropriate way to show not only the versatility and virtuosity of the orchestra but also the evolution of orchestral culture in the United States: the works were played as modern classics, with the ideal combination of polish and bite that they call for. The audience has clearly evolved along with the orchestras: Carnegie Hall was close to full with a healthy mixture of grey and not-so-grey heads intently focused on the music. So accomplished and appealing were the performances that even the Feldman work, probably the most novel work on the program, held audience attention effortlessly through its 26-plus minute duration.

The Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle at Carnegie Hall: Debussy, Dvořák, Schoenberg, Elgar, Bruckner, Wolf, and Mahler

A U.S. tour by one of the great European orchestras is a a costly endeavor—for everyone concerned—and, even if it is a biennial occurrence, it should be nothing less than an important event, especially in New York. I find it a severe disappointment when an orchestra offers routine programming on tour, no matter how well it shows off their glories. These are missed opportunities. The Berlin Philharmonic and their Director, Sir Simon Rattle, therefore deserve our thanks for sticking with the “curated” programming which made their last visit to Carnegie Hall such a memorable esperience. Back then, they combined a cycle of Brahms symphonies with works by Arnold Schoenberg. This year they have taken a step forward and a step back, narrowing their range, to explore the origins of the modern in music in the 1890s. On the way, they have also managed to include some of Sir Simon’s signature repertoire in Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations and Mahler’s Second Symphony, both among the works with which he made his reputation early in his career.

Orientalism in France: Leon Botstein and the ASO play Saint-Saëns, Franck, Ravel, Delage, and Bizet’s one-act opera, Djamileh at Carnegie Hall

In a happy coincidence this delightful evening of French orientalist music occurred just as I was coming to the end of Ralph P. Locke’s stimulating book, Musical Exoticism, Images and Reflections (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Without repeating much that I’ll say in my review, I think I should say here that reading it most definitely added to my enjoyment of the concert, and that is serious praise for a book about music. Professor Locke goaded me into looking at the rhetoric of exoticism as a multifaceted historical phenomenon, which carried as many different connotations for the members of Bizet’s or Ravel’s own audiences as they do for us. This is not by any means the thesis of the book, but it is a salutary corollary lesson. Ultimately, however, neither that, nor Leon Botstein’s witty, balanced, and impressively perceptive pre-concert lecture, nor his and Jann Pasler’s excellent essays can quite put us back into those audiences’ top hat, tails, and spats. Perhaps champagne is in order. What was most palpably present in Carnegie Hall that night was some supremely imaginative and enjoyable music, much of it more substantial than one might have expected.

Vivica Genaux, Mezzo-Soprano, sings Vivaldi Pyrotechnics, with Europa Galante led by Fabio Biondi

Vivica Genaux. Photo Christian Steiner.

When Vivica showed up on stage you could hear people’s rapture. She wore a black dress that complimented her beautiful complexion with a red flower on the left shoulder. She looked absolutely stunning. I’ve never heard Vivica before, and I must say that she has one of the most gorgeous voices. It’s not big, but for Baroque one doesn’t need a big voice. Right away, Vivica strikes you with her vocal technique. All the tempi were so fast that one would wonder, how in the world can anyone sing so fast? And not every ensemble can play that fast either. But both Vivica and Europa Galante showed the highest class of musicianship and technique.

Vivica Genaux, to appear with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi at Carnegie Hall, on Thursday, Feb. 2, talks to Michael Miller, Part 2 of 3

Vivica Genaux. Photo Christian Steiner.

MM: Harnoncourt will have the Concertgebouw…and I think maybe he started with the Vienna Philharmonic having them use gut strings…

VG: Good for him.

MM: And approaching a period style. I should think that would be a great—how do you say?—experience for orchestral musicians, to have them rethink their playing a bit and so forth. There’s not much interest in that in the U.S.

VG: But I think it’s also…It depends on who does the approaching, I mean Harnoncourt, you can’t argue with him; he’s such an institution in Austria, and then also you were saying, that in Europe in general he’s just…he’s untouchable. He’s brilliant and…

Yuri Temirkanov conducts the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Alisa Weilerstein, Cello, at Carnegie Hall

St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra Yuri Temirkanov, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Alisa Weilerstein, Cello Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Prelude to Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh Dmitri Shostakovich – Cello Concerto No. 1 Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 Within…
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Mariss Jansons leads the Concertgebouw Orchestra with Janine Jansen at Carnegie Hall in Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, and Mahler

Mariss Janssons conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Mariss Jansons, Chief Conductor Janine Jansen, Violin Sibelius, Violin Concerto Rachmaninoff, Symphony No. 2 in E Minor Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 8 PM Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Mariss Jansons, Chief…
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