This dusty old black-and-white film still packs a wallop, and the Philadelphia Orchestra deserves high praise for staging an exceptionally well prepared and powerfully executed production of this masterful mélange of art forms.
Andrea Clearfield's ambitiously sprawling Tse Go La is the latest fruit of the composer's musical field trips to Tibet and by far the most substantial: a fantastic amalgam of cross-cultural influences.
Jennifer Higdon, as much as any composer of her generation, has solidified the permanent significance of the American populist school, once led by Aaron Copland. Even from this youthful ensemble, her blue cathedral was rich and satisfying.
Joyce DiDonato, with her pitch-perfect, carefully modulated voice, sounded like one of the instruments— a haunting effect that would not have been possible without the wonderful chemistry between soloist and orchestra.
Stravinsky throws an extraordinarily diverse range of influences— from early jazz to church hymns to folk music— into a breathtakingly concise package. I can't recall hearing it performed with as much pungent clarity and disciplined vigor as this.
When this orchestra plays, the needle is always in the danger zone, lending a bracing, edgy quality to the performances that enhances the truly revolutionary spirit of Beethoven's music.
A conductor's pacing works best when the audience notices it least. Charles Dutoit's beat created a pace that's akin to breathing, as opposed to the unvarying tick-tock of a metronome.
Hans Werner Henze's Phaedra demonstrates convincingly that contemporary opera can deliver the wow factor. The Opera Company of Philadelphia took a huge chance in staging this new production, and it paid off.
In a concert ballyhooed as an historic co-production of a ballet company and an orchestra, Falla's Three-Cornered Hat was performed complete, but without the dancing. Which begs just one question: Why?
Jeremy Gill's music is particularly concerned with sound qualities, to the extent that he'll move his performers to different parts of the hall during the course of a work. It seems to be a signature for this promising young composer.