Mozart

Coming Up and Of Note

Not to be missed! The newly reorganized Modus Opera Orchestra will play Beethoven, Rossini, Barber, Mozart, and Wagner at St. Anne’s Church, Long Island City on Saturday, November 23 at 7 pm.

Not to be missed—something new and something old! The outstanding musicians who have worked with conductor Justin Bischof for some years with noted success in New York City and Westchester county are now reorganized as The Modus Opera Orchestra, resident in St. Mary's Church in Long Island City. This coming Saturday, November 23rd, their inaugural concert will begin with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, in a performance which is sure to be exciting and fresh, followed my Rossini's William Tell Overture, which is partly inspired by Beethoven's Fifth and his "Egmont" Overture. Follwing that soprano Elyse Ann Kakacek will join the orchestra for Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 and an Alleluia by Mozart. The concert will conclude with Wagner's Overture to Tannhäuser. I think we may assume that the unusual sequence of works, pretty much the reverse of standard classical programming, hints at something new and extraordinary to expect from Maestro Bischof and his superb musicians.
Music

The San Francisco Symphony under James Gaffigan with Hélène Grimaud in Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart and Barber

What a wonderful work is Barber's First Symphony! I will argue in a moment that it is America's greatest. If I review our program a bit backwards this time, it's because we don't hear this piece often enough—or nearly at all in San Francisco. (The last outing here was in 1963 under Howard Mitchell). But it was worth the wait, not the least because of James Gaffigan's white-hot performance. Indeed, Barber's concluding timpanic growl brought the audience to its feet screaming, a fitting wind-up for a concert of bravos, and reaffirmed our sense that James Gaffigan has become a major conductor.

Berkshire Review

Five in the Afternoon, and more…the Boston Classical Season, So Far

Rome’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra, led by Sir Antonio Pappano, with guest soloist Martha Argerich, visited Symphony Hall on Sunday, October 22nd, performing at the rather unusual hour of 5 p.m. Going into the concert, I was overtaken by the suggestion of my title for this review. Thinking of Lorca and Hemingway, who between them immortalized the phrase “Five in the Afternoon,” in connection with bullfighting, I wondered if we concert goers were in for a strong flavor of doom, transcended through ritual and magnificence. No such thing. The concert was all beauty and vitality, though certainly with magnificence about it.  This stunning event was the best orchestral concert of the fall in Boston.
Music

Ruth Sommers’ Festival Chamber Music, a Concert Series at Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall) — an Introduction

Just about a year ago I had the pleasure of discovering a New York chamber music series I hadn't heard about, Festival Chamber Music, when I came to hear Mohammed Fairouz’s No Orpheus (2009) for Mezzo Soprano and Cello, settings of poems by our Senior Editor of Art and Music, Lloyd Schwartz, who had made the trip down from Boston to read his texts before they were sung. He has heard several performances of this work since its premiere, and he was well pleased with the work of Christine Antenbring, mezzo-soprano and cellist Ruth Sommers, noting the strong differences in the performances of the work he had heard. One might be tempted to consider the use of a solo cello to do the job of a piano a gimmick, but in fact it convinced me from the very beginning—thanks to a great extent to Ruth Sommers’ eloquent, colorful, many-sided, but disciplined playing.
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