When the bruisingly intense pianist Mitsuko Uchida sits down at her instrument, you sense that not only will the audience hear the music in some new way, but also Uchida herself will make discoveries along the way. It's a brave and exciting way to make music, and fraught with risk.
Flutist Jeffrey Khaner and pianist Charles Abramovic demonstrated what two superb musicians can do with music intended merely for gifted amateurs.
Has opera been replaced by the Broadway musical? If so, is that good or bad? The recent revival of South Pacific demonstrated the pros as well as the cons of this brave new musical world.
Four young American composers based their pieces on recent fieldwork conducted in Tibet by Philadelphia composer Andrea Clearfield. This self-consciously styled genre is too often laden with clichés— happily not the case in this concert.
Guest conductor Daniel Harding led a massive ensemble with firm control, but he sounded overly reverential and insufficiently emotive.
In his first test since his appointment, music director-designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin's rhythmic freedom and steady pulse gave the Philadelphia Orchestra the confidence to bloom a bit more than usual.
Yo-Yo Ma delivered beautiful tone but neither bite nor flashes of anger in his confusingly bland Brahms. Brahms wants his Sonata No. 1 to both shout and whisper; Ma chose to sit comfortably somewhere in between.
You will almost always hear some jazzy, syncopated rhythms in a PRISM saxophone concert, and that was the case in a number of the pieces in this season closer, featuring five world premieres and one local one, all by composers named Dave.
Inspired by Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Network For New Music called for 25 new variations from 25 present-day composers. The result certainly didn't sound like a single, cohesive work, yet it captured a range of drama, emotion and texture that honored Beethoven's model.
Is it really true that most music lovers dislike "new music"? As a critic for the past 25 years, I can attest that new music is becoming more accessible, and its audiences are expanding. This is an encouraging development. It means that music lovers are opening their minds to the creative voices of our time.