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Classical News & Reviews

Review: A ‘Candide’ That’s The Life of the Party, But Still Loses Sight of Its Origins

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, April 20, 2018 Carnegie Hall’s “One-Night-Only Benefit Concert in Celebration of the Bernstein Centennial” took the form of selections from the concert version of Candide currently licensed by the Leonard Bernstein Office, performed by a ...

Grand Rapids Symphony Brings More Than Great Music to Carnegie

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, April 17, 2018 The Grand Rapids Symphony arrives in New York this week for its first Carnegie Hall appearance in thirteen years with 85 players, a 135-member chorus, the world-renowned pianist Nelson Freire and its dynamic conductor Marcelo Lehninger. But according ...

Review: The Drama of Mozart’s Music (and Life) Fills Geffen Hall In NY Philharmonic’s ‘Amadeus: Live’

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 The New York Philharmonic’s April 14 screening of Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning movie Amadeus, with the musical score performed live, was bittersweet; Forman died the day before, at eighty-six. Conductor Richard Kaufman dedicated the ...

Art Break: Comic Book Art at Society of Illustrators; a ...

By A. E. Colas, Contributing Writer, April 23, 2018 This week Art Break is all about storytelling — but with images, not words. What do we mean? For instance, you can write an exciting story about a thief with a genius for planning and plotting but to make ...

Review: 'Wendy's Shabbat' — Burgers and Blessings at Tribeca Film Festival

By Jil Picariello, Theater Editor, April 22, 2018 Wendy’s Shabbat, a short film which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last night, is not about Sabbath dinner at the home of a Jewish matron named Wendy. Wendy’s Shabbat, directed by Rachel Myers, is about a ...

Review: A 'Candide' That's The Life of the Party, But ...

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, April 20, 2018 Carnegie Hall’s “One-Night-Only Benefit Concert in Celebration of the Bernstein Centennial” took the form of selections from the concert version of Candide currently licensed by the Leonard Bernstein Office, performed by a top-of-the-line crew of singers, players, and ...

Grand Rapids Symphony Brings More Than Great Music to Carnegie

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, April 17, 2018 The Grand Rapids Symphony arrives in New York this week for its first Carnegie Hall appearance in thirteen years with 85 players, a 135-member chorus, the world-renowned pianist Nelson Freire and its dynamic conductor Marcelo Lehninger. But according to ...

Review: Martha Graham Dance Company Continues Its Legacy and Ensures ...

By Bethany Hopta, Contributing Writer, April 17, 2018 The Martha Graham Dance Company, the oldest dance company in America, continued its 92nd season with performances of their Scared/Profane program at New York City Center this past weekend. On Saturday evening Janet Eilber, the artistic director of ...

Review: Basil Twist's Aquatic 'Symphonie Fantastique' Is Visually and Sonically ...

By Sheila Kogan, Contributing Writer, April 17, 2018 Twenty years ago, third-generation puppeteer, Basil Twist, decided to create a totally abstract work based on the music of Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. This year, HERE, the Off-Broadway theater, has revived the work as part of their 25th ...

Review: The Drama of Mozart's Music (and Life) Fills Geffen ...

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 The New York Philharmonic’s April 14 screening of Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning movie Amadeus, with the musical score performed live, was bittersweet; Forman died the day before, at eighty-six. Conductor Richard Kaufman dedicated the presentation to Forman, and ...

Jazz Notes: On April 20, Jazz Foundation of America Returns to ...

By Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor ZEALnyc, April 16, 2018 Every year, New York’s nonprofit the Jazz Foundation of America—whose motto is “Saving jazz and blues…one musician at a time”—helps to be a key factor for helping musicians who have faced natural disasters and ...

Review: An Expurgated ‘Carousel’ Nonetheless Thrills

By Christopher Caggiano, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 Each year, when I cover Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in my musical-theater history course at the Boston Conservatory, we have a lengthy discussion about what I call “The Elephant in the Room.” Carousel barker Billy Bigelow hits his ...

Art Break: Freud at the Center for Book Arts, Mixed ...

By A. E. Colas, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 Humans and their place within the community, landscape, and the planet in general, is a topic of fascination to artists throughout the centuries. Art Break is looking at several shows opening this week that examine and discuss how ...

From Rio With Love — Grand Rapids Symphony Returns To Carnegie With Music Director Marcelo Lehninger

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018 The Grand Rapids Symphony takes the stage at Carnegie Hall on Friday, April 20 for the second time in the orchestra’s 88-year history. Having celebrated its 75th anniversary there in 2005, the orchestra returns with the 140-member ...

Ecstatic Music Festival Features Diverse Programming and Collaborative Performances

By Leonard Bopp, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018 Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival, now in its eighth year, presents collaborative performances from a broad, diverse range of musical groups. As Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Lydia Kontos notes, “since Kaufman Music ...

Review: Collegial Camaraderie Highlights the Voyage of the Four Nations Ensemble at Merkin

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, April 11, 2018 Taking off from Watteau’s ambiguous, evocative painting L’Embarquement pour Cythère, the Four Nations Ensemble came up with an ambiguous, evocative and, in the end, deeply stirring program of French music ranging over the ...

Review: Vietnam War-Inspired Programming Results In the Sublime to the Questionable

By Christopher Johnson, March 26, 2018 No one could have anticipated that the climactic event in Carnegie Hall’s months-long festival The ’60s: The Years that Changed America would coincide with the March for Our Lives, one of the biggest protests since the Vietnam War Moratoriums of 1969 and ...

Pop-Up Concerts Return To The Miller Theatre — Just In Time for Cocktails

ZEALnyc, March 23, 2018 Planning ways to connect with friends and colleagues can often be challenging, but what if you could find a way to combine socializing while hearing a cutting-edge concert and also enjoying a drink? All for free? Impossible? No. The Miller Theater at Columbia University ...

Review: Curtis Opera Theatre Brings a Newly Revised ‘A Quiet Place’ to Kaye Playhouse

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, March 16, 2018 Let’s not beat about the bush: A Quiet Place, Leonard Bernstein’s second opera, is a frustrating thing, brimming over with musical ideas of great interest and occasional beauty, but saddled with an unpleasant, implausible cast of ...

BLO’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Is As Timely As Ever Through Its Creatives’ Vision

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, March 8, 2018 The Boston Lyric Opera is bringing back to stage writer Bertolt Brecht’s and composer Kurt Weill’s 1928 classic The Threepenny Opera, exposing a theme that has never really gone out of style. Topically, in fact, the subject matter is right ...

Review: Anne-Sophie Mutter Triumphs Through Technique and Keen Interpretive Powers

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, March 6, 2018 Anne-Sophie Mutter takes command. Those straggling late-comers? Let them shuffle in — she begins her performance as if they aren’t there, immediately seizing control of the room and setting the tone. Those (alas, seemingly inevitable) ...

Review: The Metropolitan Opera Revives Its Compelling ‘Elektra,’ And Comes Very Close to Success

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, March 1, 2018 The House of Atreus fell apart again tonight, as the Metropolitan Opera revived its crisp Patrice Chéreau production of Elektra with the American soprano (New York’s own to be specific) Christine Goerke making an anticipated New York debut as ...

Review: Dudamel Leads the Stellar Vienna Philharmonic With Humble Authority at Carnegie

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, February 27, 2018 Sunday’s appearance at Carnegie Hall by the venerated Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel provided art and artistry of numerous contrasts. First, the pairing of this great European ensemble, an institution with roots ...

Review: New York Polyphony Makes Beautiful Music, But At What Cost?

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, February 26, 2018 Thomas Tallis (1505?-1585) and his colleagues may have left virtually no information about how they wanted their sacred choral music to be performed, but they were abundantly—well-nigh exuberantly—clear about why they wrote it and ...

Review: Ax, Kavakos and Ma Achieve Greatness In Brahms Trios at Carnegie Hall

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, February 26, 2018 Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax, longtime chamber music partners, have been joined by violinist Leonidas Kavakos in a brilliant recent recording of the three Johannes Brahms piano trios on Sony Classical, and are now touring the U.S. ...

Review: Anna Caterina Antonacci Captivates and Conquers in a Rare Recital Appearance at Zankel Hall

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, February 21, 2018 New York City Opera brings the celebrated Anna Caterina Antonacci to Carnegie Hall for a rare, intimate recital and audiences should run, not walk. It is a privilege to experience vocalism of this caliber, and this former mezzo turned soprano, ...

Review: The Met Revives the Rare ‘Semiramide’ With a Golden Cast

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, February 19, 2018 Offering palace intrigue and plot twists that would make a Trump White House blanch, the Metropolitan Opera tonight revived its beautiful production of Rossini’s Semiramide, swathed in blue and gold and filling the house with impressive ...

Review: Drama Reigns at the New York Philharmonic, and Not All of It Onstage

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, February 16, 2018 Those weren’t boos you heard at Thursday night’s Philharmonic concert at Geffen Hall—they were howls of rage and contempt, and cries of “What an idiot!,” and a shouting-match that might have led to fisticuffs if a graybeard in ...

Review: Clémentine Margaine’s ‘Haunting Vocalism’ Highlights Muti Leading Chicago Symphony at Carnegie Hall

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, February 12, 2018 One of the Second City’s greatest cultural institutions, the revered Chicago Symphony Orchestra, visited Carnegie Hall in a varied program under the baton of Riccardo Muti. Of particular interest was the New York premiere a newly ...

Review: The Dynamic Duo of Bell and Denk Deliver a Powerful Memorial Concert at Carnegie

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, February 9, 2018 With an eagle’s wingspan and a long arching torso, Bell’s charismatic playing fills the Isaac Stern Auditorium. In a recent, lofty, recital program alongside his frequent pianist, the expressive Jeremy Denk, paid tribute to the ...

Review: Matthias Goerne and Daniil Trifonov Join Forces for ‘Magnificent Music-Making’ at Carnegie Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, February 7, 2018 No one ever accused Matthias Goerne of being a cutup, and his joint recital with Daniil Trifonov—ninety minutes of disappointment and death in a single uninterrupted sweep—will yield no exception. It was too much: the flutter of ...

Review: Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin Steals the Show in Met Opera’s ‘Parsifal’ Revival

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, February 5, 2018 Tonight demonstrated that the Metropolitan Opera has made a brilliant choice, and perhaps the only real choice, in its replacement of James Levine. Levine, who conducted regularly at the Met after retiring from his monumental four-decades as music ...

Review: Conductor Stéphane Denève Brings Passion to Prokofiev With the NY Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, January 29, 2018 Led by guest conductor Stéphane Denève, the New York Philharmonic recently presented an exhilarating all-Prokofiev program, which I attended on Friday afternoon, January 26. Denève’s program bio states that he has a special affinity ...

Review: U.S-Mexico Border Issues Given Voice Mariachi Style in NYCO’s ‘Cruzar La Cara De La Luna’ at Rose Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, January 26, 2018 Billed as “the world’s first mariachi opera,” Cruzar la Cara de la Luna opened for a limited run at the Rose Theater this week, in pretty much the same production seen at Houston Grand Opera (which commissioned the piece and gave ...

Review: Haydn’s Rarely Performed Oratorio ‘The Seasons’ Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, January 26, 2018 Haydn’s The Seasons (1801) is one of those gifts that won’t stop giving: a glorious country-picnic that rejoices the spirit and delights the mind, interrupted every now and again for fireworks, incursions of the cosmic-divine, and ...

Review: Tenor Jonas Kaufmann Brings Sincerity and Earnestness To Schubert’s Quintessential Song Cycle at Carnegie

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, January 23, 2018 Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin is a peculiar thing, part Romantic tragedy, part fairy-tale, part parade of gentle ironies, and part teenage melodrama, at once heart-on-sleeve and eloquent in what it doesn’t say. It’s also one of ...

Review: The Met Bets Successfully On Jennifer Rowley in Its Latest ‘Il Trovatore’

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, January 22, 2018 Surrounded by three opera powerhouses, a young American soprano tonight made another hefty, iconic role debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Her second such in ten days. And fearlessly. The soprano is Jennifer Rowley, and following last season’s ...

Review: Royal Concertgebouw Lives Up To Its Reputation as One of the World’s Finest In Carnegie Hall Residency

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, January 22, 2018 Carnegie Hall hosts a great variety of the world’s finest orchestras, and witnessing each ensemble relish the Hall’s flattering acoustics is a rewarding adventure for the curious listener. The most recent orchestra to grace ...

Review: Pianist Simone Dinnerstein Succeeds With an Unlikely Pairing of Glass and Schubert at the Miller Theater

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, January 22, 2018 The pianist Simone Dinnerstein had an unusual concept for her piano recital at Miller Theater on Thursday night, January 18: she presented a collection of pieces by Philip Glass and Franz Schubert, both of whom, as it happens, were born on ...

Review: American Soprano Jennifer Rowley Conquers Tosca at Met Opera

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, January 15, 2018 Up and coming American soprano Jennifer Rowley has boldly claimed for herself a new, career-changing role. Puccini’s Tosca is a monumental climb for a soprano, a career-defining mountain if, perhaps, not the toughest vocal peak. The opera ...

Mälkki Conducts New York Philharmonic with Violinist Baiba Skride

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, January 14, 2018 The New York Philharmonic welcomed busy Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki to the podium and Latvian solo violinist Baiba Skride, for a stimulating program beginning with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major. While it may be notable that a ...

Review: A Traditional ‘Tosca’ Returns, With Cheers, to the Met

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, January 1, 2018 A pretty new Tosca arrived at the Metropolitan Opera last night, made exciting by the stunning work of tenor Vittorio Grigolo and an impressive debut by soprano Sonya Yoncheva in the haunted title role. But not before a tortured journey. The ...

Review: Bronfman Assails Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 With ‘Virtuosity and Finesse’

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, December 28, 2017 The great Hungarian-born pianist Andras Schiff has described Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 as “probably the single most difficult piece that I’ve ever played, and I usually end up with a keyboard covered by blood, ...

Review: Jamie Barton Brings Her Charms and Talents to Songs of Love, Longing, and Sex at Zankel Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, December 22, 2017 As predicted, Jamie Barton’s latest performance at Zankel Hall was quite an evening. Barton is a wonderful recitalist, and this was a terrific program, having to do with love and longing and sex, and tacitly asking questions about ...

Review: Baritone Andrei Bondarenko Brings His Communicative Power To Weill Recital Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, December 12, 2017 The voice-police were out in force for Andrei Bondarenko’s performance Friday night at Weill Recital Hall, and from the look of things, they were not most pleased, although candor compels me to note that few of them disdained the free ...

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