The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is a major stop for the musicians who travel the international chamber music circuit. PCMS presents 50 concerts a year and most of them feature out of town headliners. PCMS has responded to the current disruption by posting a curated guide of online performances. The guide starts with performances by the musicians PCMS audiences would have heard in March and April, but it includes a lot more. PCMS is managed by a small, knowledgeable staff with a front-line view of the contemporary classical music scene.
The online performances linked in the guide include offerings by musicians as illustrious as Yo-Yo Ma. The links to recorded video performances focus on chamber music, as you would expect, but you’ll also find videos by orchestras, chamber orchestras, and early music groups.
My random sampling included a video of a Lincoln Center performance of Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto (a personal favorite) and two videos that capture both ends of the current emotional spectrum.
At the 92nd Street Y in New York, mezzo Fleur Barron and pianist Myra Huang perform in an empty hall. The song is Beethoven’s message to an absent love, whom he can still reach with his music.
The other item is a chamber music version of a work created for a more imposing setting. Mezzo Joyce DiDonato and tenor Piotr Bezcala present excerpts from Massenet’s opera Werther in DiDonato’s apartment. They were supposed to perform in the opera at the Met, with our own Yannick Nézet-Séguin as conductor. Instead, they present it informally, with a pianist and a harpist substituting for the orchestra.
No video, real-time or recorded, can replace the experience of a live performance, shared with the musicians and audience. The internet is a lifeline, connecting us to the world we’re trying to regain.