This year saw transcendent performances in classical music. There was Hélène Grimaud’s early December performance of Brahms’ epic first piano concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall or the New York Philharmonic’s October performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, cleverly paired with the U.S. premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze, to name just a few. And yet it wouldn’t come as a surprise if many concertgoers ring in the New Year with at least a few symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Read More
In what could only be described as a Seinfeldian moment of schadenfreude, Philharmonic music conductor Alan Gilbert stopped Tuesday’s performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony during the emotionally-taut ending because some guy in the front row wouldn’t turn off his cell phone. Read More
When Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in May of 1913, its thorny polyrhythms and pagan-inspired choreography completely unnerved the audience, whose booing and catcalls eventually erupted into a full-blown riot. Even after the police intervened, chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance as bar-room-style brawls broke out in the Parisian aisles, sending the evening into the annals of music history. Read More
On Monday night in Carnegie Hall’s Stern auditorium, audience members seemed to scan the empty stage for signs of life as they anxiously awaited tonight’s performers, British tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Thomas Adès. It was already ten minutes past 8:00 p.m. and we had yet to see as much as a tuxedo coattail wave from behind the stage door. The lights dimmed briefly before springing back to full strength in what was either an attempt to settle the fidgeting audience, or the accidental slip of a techie’s elbow. We couldn’t be sure.
Eventually, the lanky Mr. Bostridge drifted across the stage, briefly smiling at the audience before taking his place in the crook of the piano. Standing well over six-feet and graced with a boyish features, Mr. Bostridge appears as a teen in the midst of an awkward growth-spurt. He cued Mr. Adès with a smile, who began the first selection, John Dowland’s Elizabethan “In Darkness Let Me Dwell,” a dirge-like piece with a celebrity following – Sting has covered it – that set a a somber tone for the remainder of the recital, which featured an abundance of melancholic Heinrich Heine poetry. Centering around themes of depression, alienation from society, and unrequited love, the composers featured in the evening’s performance ranged from the lesser-known György Kurtág, to leaders in Lieder Schumann, Schubert and Liszt. Read More
As concertgoers funneled out of Avery Fisher Hall on Monday night, a middle-aged couple kissed passionately on the first-tier balcony, earning hoots of approval from below. Earlier in the evening, a seemingly inebriated mink-wrapped woman sitting next to The Observer spoke to her husband at full-volume before unceremoniously slumping asleep in her plush seat.
Perhaps something had been slipped into the wine served at the preceding gala dinner, or perhaps the audience was simply overstimulated from the evening’s orchestral excitement. Whatever the cause, the classical crowd was in strange form, which only served to highlight the magnificence of the Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers” concert that took place.
As the members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra stormed the stage, an older woman in front of us clapped in slow motion, her hands extended over her head, picking up the pace as Met maestro of the moment, Signore Fabio Luisi, made his entrance. Greeting the audience with a smile, the 52-year-old planted himself curtly on the podium, his greying hair neatly combed and his round spectacles perfectly adjusted. Read More
Eight hundred photographs of the world’s most celebrated opera stars ceremoniously decorate the lobby concourse of the Metropolitan Opera. These legends of the stage look on from behind their glass windows into the hallowed Founder’s Hall. And there, framed among his peers is Bavarian-born, lyric-dramatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann, most recently honored by being invited to perform a solo concert, a grand gesture that recognizes the tremendous contributions of a truly magnificent performer. Mr. Kaufmann, along with long-time collaborator, pianist Helmut Deutsch, performed musical selections from composers Strauss, Duparc, Mahler and Liszt, vocal repertoire which deftly showcased Mr. Kaufmann’s beautiful timbre and breathtaking vocal control. Read More