Archive | Reviews

All-Bartók Season-Opener With The Hungarian National Philharmonic

Budapest, September 25, 2019; Müpa—For my ongoing survey of Budapest’s orchestral scene, I picked out an all-Bartók evening with the Hungarian National Philharmonic. The National Philharmonic came to (Western) fame under its longtime director János Ferencsik and again when it was led for two decades by Zoltán Kocsis until the latter’s death in 2016. The […]

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Fine Performance of Korngold’s Dreamlike Die Tote Stadt at Bard

Bard Summerscape, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; August 18, 2019—For almost 20 years now, Bard College, at Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, has been presenting, under music director Leon Botstein, important operas outside of the familiar repertory of the major opera companies. Works by Chabrier, Smyth, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Blitzstein, Zemlinsky, and others have met with audience and critical […]

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A Magnificent Budapest Ring, Part 2: Walküre, Siegfried, & Götterdämmerung

Budapest, June 13-16, 2019; Müpa—If the Rheingold of the Budapest Wagner Week’s annual Ring Cycle was a stunner for its excellent-yet-largely-unknown cast, the three remaining operas of the tetralogy boasted excellence with well-known stars of the Wagnerian world. Apart from Johan Reuter’s elegant, noble Wotan – ever the host of an elegant 1920s dinner party […]

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A Magnificent Budapest Ring: Prelude and Rheingold

Budapest, June 13-16, 2019; Müpa—Loved by the cognoscenti – but a bit off the radar for much of the rest of the Wagner-loving world – Ádám Fischer has been throwing a little Wagner Festival for the last 15 years, right on the banks of the Danube in the Müpa, Budapest’s fine modern arts center. The […]

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Mariss Jansons Delivers AM-Berlioz in Vienna

Vienna, May 30, 2019; Musikverein—I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks Hector Berlioz in the AM is a terribly bright idea. Certainly not the ingeniously over-egged, self-important frivolity of his Symphonie fantastique, not even with Mariss Jansons leading the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein’s Golden Hall, as was […]

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Vienna Aroused: Mahler’s Eighth Still Does the Trick

Vienna, May 11, 2019; Vienna Konzerthaus—Even in times of inflationary Mahler performances, a Mahler Eighth is something special. It was notable from the moment you set foot into the Vienna Konzerthaus on this past Saturday afternoon. The mood was different. A little tense, a little hushed in anticipation of an “event”. The big wigs were […]

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Up-To-Date, Lively Mikado From Bronx Opera

Lehman College, Bronx, N.Y; April 28, 2019—A visit last weekend to the Bronx Opera’s spring presentation at Lehman College of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado was a delight. Updated and free of any japanoisserie or yellow-face to “now”, with a back wall projection of the White House and signs reading “Titipu.gov”, we find ourselves in […]

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Haefliger’s Scrupulous Bartók with the Vienna Symphony Stands Out

Vienna, April 26, 2019: Vienna Konzerthaus—Perhaps it was a way of sending belated Easter Greetings to its audience, when the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Susanna Mälkki, opened its set of concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus this week with Wagner’s Good Friday Music. That greeting was loud, more impressive than mystical or pious, with capricious […]

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Vienna Radio Orchestra In Austrian Premieres Of (Post-)Soviet Classics

Vienna, March 14, 2019; Musikverein—The Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna (ORF SO), soon to be Marin Alsop’s band, is—when it isn’t diving headlong into modernism for ideology’s sake—in charge of repertoire that’s mildly, mercifully off the beaten path. That makes it the interesting orchestra in town, because the other three orchestras don’t bother: The Vienna […]

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The Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra’s Mahler Cure

Musikverein, Vienna; Saturday, March 16, 2019—There is either a glut of Mahler on the concert circuit or you can’t ever get enough Mahler. There is no middle ground. Mahler is appealing stuff on many levels, not the least that you can easily impress with the music at rather less rehearsal expense than you could with, […]

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