Bard Music Festival 2014 - Schubert and his World
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Posts Tagged ‘Emanuel Ax’

Thumbnail : Emanuel Ax Plays Bach and Schoenberg with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert…and Mozart’s “Linz” Symphony

Emanuel Ax Plays Bach and Schoenberg with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert…and Mozart’s “Linz” Symphony

I was so delighted by Emanuel Ax’s performance of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under Ken-David Masur that I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to hear him play it again. They created a crystalline texture with their alert interactions, with all the incisiveness of the best chamber music playing. Not exactly what one associates with the New York Philharmonic, as excellent an orchestra as they have been, since Kurt Masur’s t years, but, in my experience, Alan Gilbert is strong with twentieth century Music, and it seemed like a promising combination to say the least…and it did work, although in a way quite different from the Tanglewood performance.

Thumbnail : 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

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.

Thumbnail : Mozart and Yellow Warblers:  Recent Performances of the  Piano Concertos on Disc (Part I of a Series)

Mozart and Yellow Warblers: Recent Performances of the Piano Concertos on Disc (Part I of a Series)

While spending almost twenty years closely listening to Bach’s more than two hundred cantatas bewildered some of my friends would decry my project and say, “They all sound alike – how can you tell them apart?” These people, sophisticated music lovers who simply did not care for the Bach vocal repertory, refused to admit they glossed over these works in a superficial way. To my ears, of course, each and every cantata had uniqueness that clearly articulated it from the rest of the pack. Yes, there were many structural similarities, and Bach’s musical language is the unifying tongue, but, to say Bach’s cantatas all sounded alike seemed heretical, born of inferior taste and auditory skills. Years later, when I started watching birds, I came upon the family of yellow warblers, illustrated in Roger Tory Peterson’s definitive field guide. Boggled by the subtle markings which distinguish these birds, it seemed that page after page pictured the same damned bird, and I recalled my friends’ remarks about Bach’s vocal works.

Thumbnail : Emanuel Ax plays Schubert, Mostly Late, at Tully Scope

Emanuel Ax plays Schubert, Mostly Late, at Tully Scope

The first evening of Tully Scope devoted to the classical music of the past was no less adventurous than the first two concerts, which revolved around the work of Morton Feldman, who was one of the great musical adventurers of his generation. Emanuel Ax, a fastidious piano virtuoso who combines impeccable taste and restraint with a deep respect for the classics, is fairly new to late Schubert, as I understand. The late piano sonatas in particular, works of grand scope, rich harmony, and deep feeling, offer little in the way of purely pianistic attractions to show off Mr. Ax’s fluent technique. I almost feared that his mastery of the keyboard might even get in the way of Schubert’s music. These moving performances, on the contrary, went beyond mere elegance and delved deeply into the heart of Schubert’s writing. Emanuel Ax did indeed approach the music as a pianist, but, as always for him, the music came first, and that led him in new directions, which he navigated in a way entirely his own.

Thumbnail : Tully Scope, a New Festival at Lincoln Center: Preview and Concert Schedule

Tully Scope, a New Festival at Lincoln Center: Preview and Concert Schedule

An exciting new festival at Lincoln Center will make an already busy period — February 22 to March 18 — even busier. It bears the slightly odd (and slightly clumsy, I think) name, Tully Scope Festival. But no matter, the offerings, which cover a vast range of the best in early music, traditional classical music, […]

  • A Singer’s Notes 93: Denève, the TMC Orchestra, and Berlioz; McGegan and Handel; Bernstein’s Candide at Tanglewood
    The excellent Stephane Denève chose two works of Hector Berlioz for his TMCO concert. Wholly remarkable was a performance of Les Nuits d'Été. The maestro gave these songs a sound I've never heard before. It was ravishingly quiet to begin with, not unlike the nearly silent playing Simon Rattle can achieve in his Mahler performances. It was like some
    Keith Kibler
  • Murder Myth Married to Music—Lizzie Borden Wields her Axe at Tanglewood
    In Jack Beeson and Kenward Elmslie’s 1965 retelling, Lizzie Borden is unequivocally presented the murderer of her step-mother and father; in the opening moments, as the orchestra starts up with a scream of outrage, Lizzie runs onstage with an axe and plants it firmly in the middle of the family table. It remains there for most of the opera, sometimes reached
    Larry Wallach
  • A Singer’s Notes 92: The Cherry Orchard
    The Cherry Orchard At Historic Park-McCullough in North Bennington, VT July 31 – August 9 Most remarkable in Living Room Theatre’s The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov on Friday night was a natural sounding translation of the play – something I have rarely heard. This was accomplished by the young actress who also played Anya, along with Randolyn Zinn. […] The post
    Keith Kibler
  • A Singer’s Notes 91: TMC Forever, and A Little Bit of Marlboro
    The Tanglewood Center Music Orchestra took on an enormous challenge in their first outing this summer. The Bruckner 4th Symphony is a magnificent leviathan of a piece which requires everything of its players and its conductor. The young French horn section deserves multiple plaudits. This work is one of the supreme tests of orchestral horn […] The post A Sin
    Keith Kibler