Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats."
Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, since 2007. All written content © 2014 by Paul Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Concert Review: California's Dark

MTT and the San Francisco Symphony return with Mahler's Seventh.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Mahler groove: conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
Photo © 2014 San Francisco Symphony.
When Gustav Mahler premiered his Symphony No. 7 in E minor in 1906, he set a series of problems and riddles that too often, baffle today's conductors, listeners and critics. On Wednesday night, the San Francisco Symphony returned to Carnegie Hall to play this difficult and uniquely weird five-movement work, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Superconductor Interview: Jacques Lacombe

A Q & A with the leader of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Conductor Jacques Lacombe.
Photo by Fred Stucker © 2014 New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Jacques Lacombe is always in motion. The energetic French Canadian conductor is in his penultimate year leading the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Garden State's most significant professional ensemble in a bold season that ranges from rare works by New Jersey-born composers to a deep exploration of Shakespeare as an inspiration for 20th century composers. The orchestra is also getting ready to release a new recording to join its thunderous Carmina Burana. Things are looking up.

The NJSO is unique in that it is an orchestra that is effectively "on tour" for most of its season, playing programs in Newark, Bergen, New Brunswick, Princeton and even Red Bank. But their home is still Newark, at the stately, modern New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) right downtown on Center Street.

In a telephone interview with Superconductor, Mr. Lacombe discussed the benefits and challenges of his position, and how working out of Newark, New Jersey might be better than you think.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Concert Review: Everest, Part One

Pierre Laurent-Aimard plays The Well Tempered Clavier, Book I
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Photo by Felix Broede for Deutsche Grammophon/UMG.
If the modern piano recital can be equated to the climbing of mountains, then Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier (Clavier simply means "keyboard") represents one of the steepest, highest and most dangerous slopes of all. For Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the iconoclastic French pianist whose mentors included Pierre Boulez, Thursday night's performance of Book I of this massive keyboard work at Carnegie Hall was the equivalent of a climb up Everest--without oxygen or Sherpa guides.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Concert Review: Stepping Into the Big Time

Associate Conductor Case Scaglione leads the New York Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
On the Case--Scaglione at the New York Philharmonic.
Photo by Chris Lee © 2014 The New York Philharmonic.
The position of associate conductor at a major symphony orchestra is not a glamorous job. They lead offstage brass ensembles (and choruses) in big works like Mahler's Resurrection and Strauss' Alpensinfonie. They run children's concerts. But once in a while, they take the main stage and lead an ensemble like the New York Philharmonic. For this week's subscription concerts (heard Wednesday night at the soon-to-be-renamed Avery Fisher Hall) it was the turn of NY Phil associate Case Scaglione to step onto the podium for a trio of 20th century classics.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.