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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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Great Recitals and Concerts: Spring 2018

Superconductor breaks down the best recitals, performances and even a play.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

It's not all symphonies and operas. Here at Superconductor we also try to cover smaller and more intimate performances where you find see and hear some of the best music on offer in and around New York City. Here are the best of the spring season of 2018.

Stephen Hough at Carnegie Hall
"This is a beloved work that lies ignored and unplayed by many pianists for its sheer difficulty. Essentially, this is a musical argument between "Florestan" and "Eusebius", the two contrasting sides of Schumann's own personality. The first is flashy and virtuosic, the second thoughtful and full of yearning. Mr. Hough captured both sides of this internal debate and maintained the narrative, forward flow of this work, with its Herculean length and difficulty providing windows for profound interpretation."

Attacca String Quartet at the Crypt Sessions
"These four young musicians have come a long way since forming at Juilliard fifteen years ago. And that maturity in their sound came from the very first notes of the first movement. The slow-rising drone of the opening sounded unnaturally loud in the hushed, stone crypt, showing why this is one of the best "found" venues for serious listening in recent years. The main thematic ideas unpacked quickly, with each of the four players taking a climb up the rising ladder of the first theme and then splashing back down in a series of arpeggios."

Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall
The Carnegie audience sat absolutely rapt, enthralled by the long and involved narrative of thematic ideas that unspooled under Ms. Uchida’s skilled touch. The movement is long, yes, and ideas repeat and build on each other in a manner that predicts the thematic mind-palaces of Wagner's later style. The Andante is a kind of return to normalcy from these exotic outer regions, another battle between a gentle, lyric idea and a harsh, almost belligerent second subject

Farinelli and the King at the Belasco Theater
"As the audience fills the house, they are treated to baroque fiddling from three musicians on the stage. They later retire to the orchestra loft, located in the upper reaches of the unit set. The music in this show is more than just ornament..."

Matthias Goerne and Daniil Trifonov at Carnegie Hall
"The songs were selected for their dramatic message. First, Berg explored the world of dreams and dreaming, in these four Op. 2 songs that start in the last flowering of 19th century Romanticism and end with the composer's first dip into the dark, swirling waters of atonality. Mr. Goerne, an international opera star who is acclaimed for his portrayal of the composer's hero Wozzeck, took the lead here, his instrument showing a vast range of colors and tones. Mr. Trifonov offered minimal accompaniment here, allowing the voice to flourish."

Leila St. John at the Crypt Session
"Ms. St. John then introduced the tune Sari Siroun Yar with the tale of her epic trip across what used to be the Soviet Union. She recounted the problems in getting out of Moscow right before the fall of Communism, when things were uncertain and everyone was on edge. She talked about a drive through the dark mountain roads of the Caucasus, an isolated, rocky place, all the way to the Black Sea country of Armenia. This song was sad, mournful and playful and was paired with "Moscow" by Gene Pritsker from that composer's Russian Evenings Suite."

So Percussion and the JACK Quartet at Zankel Hall
"The two quartets formed an octet for the evenings final work: Dan Trueman's aptly titled Songs That Are Hard To Sing. Mr. Truman’s work featured the four string players using a unique tuning, enabling their instruments to play a C major chord instead of one of the more common  concert tunings. Sō's Jason Treuting sat at a small drum kit while Josh Quillin stationed himself behind a battery of metallophones and another big bass drum, this one set up horizontally."

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