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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Das Rheingold

The Ring Cycle starts over.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Underwater love: the three Rhinemaidens cavort at the start of Das Rheingold.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2010 The Metropolitan Opera.

The Prelude to the Ring Cycle is either the ideal first Wagner opera--or a torture test for dyed-in-the-wool opera lovers who are forced to sit still for two and a half hours.  Das Rheingold begins underwater. Three Rhinemaidens are hit on by a sexed-crazed Nibelung dwarf, Alberich. Alberich copes with their rejection by stealing their treasure, the gold titular "Rhine gold." He uses the gold to forge the Ring, a powerful trinket that will pass from hand to hand until the end of the cycle 15 hours later.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Concert Review: The Passion, California Style

John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the L.A. Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The cast of The Gospel According to the Other Mary with conductor Gustavo Dudamel (left).
Photo by Richard Termine © 2013 Richard Termine Courtesy Lincoln Center.
Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic are back in New York. On Wednesday night, the fiery Venezuelan conductor led the New York premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a massive, nearly three-hour oratorio by composer John Adams. Other Mary (as it is called in the program) is a follow-up to Mr. Adams' 2000 composition El Niño. It recounts the late works, death, and resurrection  of Jesus from a distinctly feminist perspective.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Concert Review: His Northern Soul

Dmitri Hvorostovsky in recital at Carnegie Hall.
by Ellen Fishbein
Dmitri Hvorostovsky in New York.
Photo by Pasha Antonov ©
The baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is known for his theatrical spirit, as seen in Verdi roles on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. But for Wednesday night's Carnegie Hall recital with accompanist Ivari Ilja he allowed a certain sweetness to emerge in this all-Russian program.

Sergei Rachmaninoff's songs glide from grandiosity to the tenderest edges of the musical palette. Drawing inspiration from his chosen composer (and perhaps acknowledging the critiques of his own bombastic style), Mr. Hvorostovsky opened this recital with the composer's “My child, you are beautiful as a flower,” (Op. 8 No. 2), sung with a loving sweetness. The words floated from his lips as if he could sing them in no other way.

Concert Review: Allegations and Alligators

The Attacca Quartet plays John Adams.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Attacca Quartet and a former escalator rider.
Photo ©
The Attacca String Quartet are one of the bright lights of the chamber music scene in New York right now. On Tuesday night, the group celebrated the release of Fellow Traveler, their new CD featuring the chamber music of John Adams with a concert Le Poisson Rouge.  Mr. Adams was in attendance.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Superconductor Interview: The Attacca Quartet

A morning sit-down with this New York chamber ensemble.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Fiddlers on the roof: The Attacca Quartet
(L.R. Amy Schroeder, Keiko Tokunaga, Andrew Yee, Luke Fleming)
Image © 2013 The Attacca Quartet.
"On the second day of undergraduate," Andrew Yee says, "there was one of those team-building seminars, I met Amy (Schroeder) who was a friend of a friend. After we met we asked each other, 'Do you like chamber music?'"

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Giulio Cesare

The Met imports a British production of Händel's most famous opera.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Cocktails in Egypt: David Daniels (right) and Natalie Dessay as Caesar and Cleopatra
in the Met's new production of Giulio Cesare. Photo by Dan Rest © Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The Metropolitan Opera continues to showcase the performance and production of baroque opera. Here, the company imports David McVicar's 2005 production of Giulio Cesare (alternate title: Giulio Cesare in Egitto) to the big stage as a vehicle for countertenor David Daniels (in the title role) and soprano Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra. This is the last new production of the 2012-2013 season.

Despite the British origin of this work (it premiered in London in 1724) the plot of Giulio Cesare has nothing to do with Shakespeare or the ruler's assassination on the Ides of March. Handel's opera retells the doomed romance between the Egyptian queen and the Roman military leader. The two leads have great opportunity for florid vocal display, with eight arias each.

Giulio Cesare is not some rarity dusted off by historical archivists. The work is considered to be Händel's finest, with musical invention, multiple orchestras at one point and other innovations that made it the most popular  stage work in 18th centiry London. It was one of the first baroque works to be revived in the 20th century (in a version using a baritone Caesar.) The Met will present an authentic 18th centurty style performance, conducted by Harry Bickett.

Giulio Cesare opens April 4, 2013.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Concert Review: Say Hello to Heaven

Isabelle Faust (no relation) appears at The Bach Variations.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Isabelle Faust and friend. Photo © harmonia mundi.
Aside from having the same surname, there is no apparent connection between German violinist Isabelle and Johann Georg Faust, the medieval philosopher who (according to legend) sold his soul to the Devil. However, given the sweet lyrical tone that Ms. Faust drew forth from her Stradivarius (the "Sleeping Beauty") at Saturday night's appearance with the New York Philharmonic, one might suspect that some unearthly forces were at work.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Concert Review: The Cult of Light

The Park Avenue Armory presents Stockhausen's Oktophonie.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
This didn't actually happen on Saturday.
The late Karlheinz Stockhausen. © Stockhausen-Verlag
Karlheinz Stockhausen’s seven-part opera cycle Licht is regarded as one of the most important, possibly unperformable  monster works produced in the last decades of the composer’s life. Perhaps recognizing the difficulty of getting a seven-day 29-hour opera performed, Stockhausen made his work "modular", enabling sections of Licht to be broken out and played for an audience of less fortitude.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York City Opera Announces 2013-14 Season

Four Operas, More Performances and a Blonde.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The City Opera opens its season with the U.S. premiere of
Mark Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole.
The New York City Opera announced its 2013-2014 season on Tuesday morning, with a slate of programming that sticks to general manager George Steel’s four-opera formula but also offers some cautious, optimistic expansion on the previous and current seasons.

The press conference opened with the announcement that the company had balanced its books for this fiscal year. This balance was mainly accomplished by leaving Lincoln Center and avoiding traditional operatic expenses of livable orchestra salaries, unionized stage hands and a regular chorus.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Opera Review: Where's the Kaboom?

The Met revives Dez McAnuff's “atomic age” Faust.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Failure to detonate: Piotr Beczala (left) and John Relyea confer over a nuke
in Act V of the Met's revival of Gounod's Faust. Photo by Cory Weaver © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
The Metropolitan Opera’s current version of Charles Gounod’s 1859 grand opera Faust has, (like the atomic bombs that inspired its director Dez McAnuff) emerged once more from the opera house’s top-secret laboratories for another round of testing. On Thursday night, the performance failed to reach critical mass.

Concert Review: Unfinished but Immortal

The NJSO plays the Mozart Requiem.
A segment of the Dies Irae from the Mozart Requiem.
Conductor Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra's concert series at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in downtown Newark remain an undiscovered treasure for New York's classical music lovers. On Thursday afternoon, the NJSO opened a concert series featuring two great unfinished compositions: Schubert's Eighth Symphony and the Mozart Requiem.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Opera Review: Smells Like Teen Spirit

Gotham Chamber Opera presents Eliogabalo.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Decadence dance: Micaëla Oeste and Christopher Ainsle in a scene from Eliogabalo at The Box.
Photo by Richard Termine © 2013 Gotham Chamber Opera.
The Gotham Chamber Opera has built its reputation on the performance of fringe repertory works, sometimes in unusual locations. They may have difficulty topping this season’s first show: Franco Cavalli’s 1677 opera Eliogabalo. In the spirit of its title character, one of the most depraved among Rome’s many emperors, the show was mounted at The Box, a dinky Chrystie Street performing space dedicated to the revival of burlesque theater.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Opera Review: Stripped (Again)

La Traviata returns to the Met.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
No way out: Diana Damrau as Violetta.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
No production in the current repertory of the Metropolitan Opera divides opinions like Willy Decker’s stripped-down La Traviata. Mr. Decker reduces the tragedy of Violetta to its bare essence, relying on a geometric white set and simple, modern costumes to frame the tragedy of a Paris prostitute’s last shot at true love. This Spartan approach to Verdi puts the attention squarely on the singers.

Opera Review: Leon Botstein: Vampire Hunter

The American Symphony Orchestra presents Der Vampyr.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
No, this is not a photo of ASO music director Leon Botstein.
But how often do I get to do this?
In 1897, the Bram Stoker novel Dracula captured the imagination of readers with its tale of a blood-sucking, immortal aristocrat from Transylvania. On Sunday afternoon, Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra cracked the coffin on Heinrich Marschner's 1828 opera Der Vampyr, one of the most interesting pre-Stoker works exploring the concept of gothic horror on the stage. This concert version was part of the ASO's regular subscription season at Carnegie Hall.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Opera Review: Peacemaker Die

Opera Philadelphia mounts Owen Wingrave
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Generation gap: a scene from Owen Wingrave. Image © 2013 Opera Philadelphia.
Among the last three operas by British composer Benjamin Britten, Owen Wingrave is the least known and the most difficult. The story of a committed pacifist who pays the ultimate price for his beliefs was originally composed for a BBC television broadcast in the 1970s. (Its TV roots might account for the paucity of performances.) Here, Opera Philadelphia mounted the work in collaboration with the Curtis Opera Theater as part of its regular season on Broad Street.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Faust

The Met continues further testing on its "atomic" Faust.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Atomic babe: Marina Poplavskaya in Faust.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
Dez McAnuff's 2010 production of Gounod's Faust re-imagined Gounod's opera about a scholar who sells his soul to the devil as a metaphor for the creation and testing of the atomic bomb in the mid-20th century. While the spare staging featured an elegant Faust and Mephistopheles trading in lab coats for spiffy suits, audience and critical fallout was decidedly mixed.

How Not To Get To Carnegie Hall

San Francisco Symphony cancels East Coast tour.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Just do what the sign says.
The San Francisco Symphony will not come to New York this week.

The musicians struck last Wednesday, following a month-long dispute regarding player salaries, pension funds, and the projected renovation of their home venue Davies Hall.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Concert Review: The Bruckner Express

Christoph von Dohnányi leads the Philadelphia Orchestra.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Christoph von Dohnányi.
The Philadelphia Orchestra's place among the world's great ensembles is attributed to the so-called "Philadelphia sound." This is a particular tone peculiar to the players of Broad Street: a rich, mellow sound that is held up as the hallmark of their long history. Facilitating this is an orchestral seating arrangement with the cellos are placed to the fore of the stage. This darkens the timbre of the orchestra slightly, creating a round, rich, full-bodied sound that has ensured a long and healthy career in the concert hall and recording studio.

Opera Review: Next Stop, Carnegie Hall

André Previn’s Streetcar finally arrives in New York.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Renée Fleming as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire,
Thursday night at Carnegie Hall. Photo by Richard Termine © Richard Termine,
courtesy Carnegie Hall Public Relations Department.
Sometimes public transportation can be slow to arrive. Take Andre Previn's first opera: A Streetcar Named Desire which rolled into New York last night, fifteen years after its premiere at the San Francisco Opera. Here, the score was played by the ever-reliable Orchestra of St. Luke’s under the baton of Ms. Fleming’s regular collaborator Patrick Summers. This was a "semi-staged" production, directed by Brad Dalton.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Concert Review: The Breadth of God

The New York Philharmonic plays Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Alan Gilbert. Photo by Chris Lee © 2013 The New York Philharmonic.
On Wednesday night, New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert demonstrated that his skill with dramatic and choral music extends to the sacred music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This was the first of four performances this week of the Mass in B Minor, Bach’s final completed composition and the summit of his career as a creator of sacred music. These concerts are the anchor event of the orchestra’s ongoing festival, The Bach Variations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

They Left Their Parts (in San Francisco)

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra strikes.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Labor impasse in San Francisco means concert cancellations at Davies Hall.
Original image © San Francisco Symphony. Photo editing by the author.
Members of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra cancelled a rehearsal Wednesday, causing the orchestra to nix a planned performance of Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony. The players had been working without a contract since Feb. 10, the same day that they won a Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance of 2012.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Opera Review: The Diva Has Landed

Angela Meade brings Norma to Washington.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Dolora Zajick (left) and Angela Meade in the Washington National Opera's
new production of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma.
Photo by Scott Suchman © 2013 Washington National Opera/The Kennedy Center
Soprano Angela Meade staked her claim in the bel canto repertory this month when she opened a new production of that most elusive of operas, Bellini's Norma at the Washington National Opera. Ms. Meade has drawn much attention in the press (including on this blog) as a throwback to the old-school sopranos who helped revive interest in this repertory in the last century. At Tuesday night's performance the question remained: Did she really have what it took to take on the role of Bellini's high priestess?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Opera Review: The Ways and Means to New Orleans

Patrica Racette sparkles in Washington's Manon Lescaut.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Her just deserts: Patricia Racette in the last scene of Manon Lescaut.
Photo by Scott Suchman © 2013 Washington National Opera/The Kennedy Center.
Mention the name Patricia Racette around opera lovers and you'll get a knowing smile. The New Hampshire-bred diva may enjoy have the same "instant" name recognition as other artists at her current level, but she is known for her smoky, spinto voice, committed acting and regal stage presence. All those qualities were on display Monday night at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where Ms. Racette is singing her first run in the title role of Puccini's Manon Lescaut.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Concert Review: The Fifth Beat

The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays Avery Fisher Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Vladimir Jurowski looking particularly excited.
Photo by Chris Chrisodoulou © 2012 Chris Chrisodolou. 
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is an important "statement" piece for any young conductor eager to cement his reputation as a maestro for the new millennium. So it makes sense that it was chosen by Vladimir Jurowski, the young Russian music director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Sunday’s matinee at Lincoln Center. Paired with it: the first Shostakovich Violin Concerto with soloist Vadim Repin. This was the first of two LPO concerts this week at Avery Fisher Hall.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Opera Preview: Eliogabalo

Gotham Chamber Opera goes for baroque.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Medal of the Roman emperor  Heliogabalus.
Collection of The Louvre, Paris. 
In recent seasons, Gotham Chamber Opera has established itself as an advocate of lesser known operas of the classical period. With its new production of Eliogabalo, the final and most controversial opera from the pen of composer Francesco Cavalli, it stakes a claim to the music of the century before.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Concert Review: A Few Words for the Dead

Christoph von Dohnányi returns to Philadelphia.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Christoph von Dohnányi Photo by Pala de André © The Ravenna Festival.
The Hungarian conductor Christoph von Dohnányi is back on Broad Street for a two-week stand leading the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center. The first of these programs (seen on Friday evening) focused on music related to funeral rites and personal grief. Somber classics by Mozart and Beethoven were matched with the Funeral Music of Witold Lutoslawski, the Polish composer who was a leading post-war exponent of the twelve-tone method.

The Funeral Music is just fifteen minutes, featuring only the string players. the Philadelphians responded with the rich, velvety sound that remains this orchestra’s trademark, unfolding the complex tone-rows and repeated musical patterns that emerge over four movements. Mr. Dohnányi led a clear, precise performance, proving to listeners that a century after its invention, there is no reason to be afraid of music written with twelve tones.

Orchestra and conductor were joined by pianist Rudolf Buchbinder for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor. This is Mozart’s most  experimental concerto, with a melancholy opening that is answered almost philosophically from the keyboard. Mr. Buchbinder played the complex emotional development of the first movement (itself  influential on the composition style of Beethoven) with intelligence and grace, maintaining a close rapport with the conductor

The pianist skated smoothly through the central slow movement, trickling out melodic  lines with a limpid touch that was answered with perfect  clarity from conductor and orchestra. These artists were in close accord in the fast finale, racing through the repeats of the rondo in a performance that lifted this work out of the emotional doldrums. Just before launching the first phrases of the quickstep coda, Mr. Dohnányi locked eyes with Mr. Buchbinder. They then played the last phrases with a glee that evoked two much younger men out to perpetrate mischief in their music.

The Eroica Symphony is a Philadelphia Orchestra staple, making regular appearances on programs at the Kimmel Center and elsewhere. In this performance, Mr. Von Dohnányi ’s leadership was light-footed but never light-weight. The big dramatic moments in the score were present but not overplayed, and there was exquisite attention to detail in the lesser known sections that allowed listeners to hear this familiar work Ina new and exciting way.

Of particular note: the second movement, a slow Marcia funebre that saw the composer break new symphonic ground in using this military musical form to portray fallen heroism in sound. Most heroic of all: the mammoth central fugue with horns an cellos seeming to weep openly before coalescing with trumpets and violas  in a descending figure that Richard Wagner later borrowed for the Grail march in Parsifal.

Though this theme appears only briefly in the central section of the March, it returns, radically transformed in the following Scherzo. In fact it's the bedrock rhythm of this mad dance, which is interrupted only by exuberant, interjecting horns. The famous finale with its "Prometheus" theme was played with an attention that made the glowing counterpoint sound almost like Bach. Mr. von Dohnányi and the players were enthusiastic as the final notes were reached, putting shoulder to the wheel and driving the big final moment to an uplifting conclusion.

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013-14 Preview: Washington National Opera

Wagner and Verdi centennials at the Kennedy Center.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Whalers vs. capital: Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick (opening Feb. 22 2014)
highlight of the upcoming WNO season at the Kennedy Center. Image ©
With the Metropolitan Opera offering a Wagner-free 2013-14 schedule, it is left to opera companies in other cities to satisfy a yearning for music drama.  The Washington National Opera has stepped up. the company announced today that its first season under the stewardship of new Artistic Director Francesca Zambello will open Sept.15 with an imported production of Tristan und Isolde.

Concert Review: The Bridge of a Hundred Years

The New York Philharmonic opens The Bach Variations.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Bach man turned in overdrive: the conductor Masaaki Suzuki.
Image © BIS Classics/Naxos North American Distribution.
The New York Philharmonic is not the first ensemble one thinks of for the performance of sacred music by Johann Sebastian Bach. This month, the orchestra is working to correct that perception with The Bach Variations, a multi-disciplinary festival exploring multiple facets of that composer’s vast body of work.

For these first concerts, (seen Wednesday night at Avery Fisher Hall) the orchestra was joined by two vocal groups: the Tokyo-based Bach Collegium Japan and the Schola Cantorum from Yale University. All three groups performed under the leadership of Masaaki Suzuki,, a Japanese period performance specialist who is the music director of both choral groups. This was his first appearance with the Philharmonic. A quintet of vocal soloists including Indian soprano Sheherazade Panthaki, countertenor Iestyn Davies and tenor Nicholas Phan sang the leading parts as needed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Opera Review: Changing of the Guardians

Parsifal at the Met: Redux.
By Paul J. Pelkonen
My man Gurnemanz. Rene Pape (left) dresses Jonas Kaufmann in Act III of Wagner's Parsifal.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Parsifal went through its first changes in personnel on Tuesday night. This was the first of two performances to be led by Israeli conductor Ascher Fisch, who is well known for his Wagner performances at the Seattle Opera.. There was also a substitution in the role of Kundry, with mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens stepping in for an indisposed Katerina Dalayman.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Opera Review: Cheaters Never Win

The Met goes medieval with Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Purple prose: Marcello Giordani (l.) and Eva-Marie Westbroek are doomed lovers in
Riccardo Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini. Photo by Marty Sohl © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
On Monday night at the Metroplitan Opera, New York’s best-equipped opera company unveiled its first revival of Riccardo Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini in 25 years. This 1914 opera has hovered at the fringes of the standard repertory for almost a century. It is only produced when there’s a star soprano determined to take on the challenge of playing the love-struck title role. This handsome production from Piero Faggioni allowed the audience to time-travel back three decades to see how grand opera was done back in the 1980s--when this production was mounted for Renata Scotto.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Concert Review: An Angel Came Down

The Vienna Philharmonic's matinee at Carnegie Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Frank Peter Zimmermann and his 1711 Stradivarius. 
On Sunday afternoon, Franz Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic concluded their three-concert stand at Carnegie Hall with two works by Austrian composers that have a deep association with the orchestra. The concert featured Alban Berg's Violin Concerto with soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann, and Anton Bruckner's epic Fourth Symphony, known as the Romantic.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Concert Review: New Songs, Old Tricks

The Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Franz Welser-Möst. Photo © 2009 The Cleveland Orchestra.
On Saturday night at Carnegie Hall, Franz Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic gave the second of three concerts this weekend. The program featured the Carnegie premiere of Lied, a new piece by composer Jörg Widmann. This was framed by playful compositions by Franz Schubert and Richard Strauss: the former’s “Little” Sixth Symphony and the latter’s Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche.

Live Broadcast Review: Reigning in Blood

The Met's Live in HD broadcast of Parsifal.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Blood mage: Evgeny Nikitin is Klingsor in the Met's new Parsifal.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
Peter Gelb's term as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera has focused around two key initiatives: the introduction of new stagings to replace the fusty extravaganzas of the past, and the popular Met Live in HD series, beaming Met productions around the globe ten times per season.

On Saturday afternoon, those two initiatives merged in the company’s Live in HD broadcast of Parsifal, seen here in a compelling new production by director François Girard. This stark show shone in a broadcast that featured an all-star cast. Multiple cameras recorded the fine details of this director’s vision, revealing small but important visual elements that may not be readily apparent in the vastness of the Met. The performance was enhanced by intermission interviews (hosted by bass Eric Owens) with most of the principal cast, conductor Daniele Gatti and Mr. Girard.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Concert Review: The Nostalgia Factory

The Vienna Philharmonic returns to Carnegie Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst. Photo by Roger Mastroianni © IMG Artists.
The annual arrival of the Vienna Philharmonic under the arched plaster vault of Carnegie Hall is a cause for New York's most conservative music lovers to rejoice. After all, this is an orchestra that rarely plays music that isn’t at least 50 years old, and wouldn't think of playing those unruly creations of the 20th century that can cause older patrons to ride out part of a concert in Carnegie's comfortable Citi Café.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Superconductor Interview: Out of the Wilderness

Contemporary composer Sean Shepherd is ahead of the curve.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Mountain man: composer Sean Shepherd is inspired by the great outdoors.
Photo by Jamie Kingham. © 2013
The Spring of 2013 is a big season for Sean Shepherd. The Brooklyn-based composer, a fast-rising star in the field of contemporary concert music, has two premieres scheduled. On March 3, the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble will play Quintet, a new chamber piece. On April 18 at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, the Cleveland Orchestra will unveil Tuolumne, a triptych of tone poems based on the Yosemite photographs of Ansel Adams.

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