Archive | Reviews

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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Tearing Through Wet Cardboard: Calixto Bieito & Christian Gerhaher Take On Elijah In Vienna

Vienna, February 20, 2019—For opera that’s lightly coated by the dust of centuries, Vienna’s State Opera House is just the thing: A marvel of a musical museum with mainstay works in workmanlike productions and with – all too often – surprisingly shoddy musical contributions. Anyone looking for musical theater with a pulse in the Austrian […]

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Film and Recital: The Quatuor Ébène in Vienna

Vienna, Musikverein, October 10, 2018—Orchestras have gotten better and better over the last 100 years (the time frame we can reasonably judge). Choirs have gotten audibly better every decade, too. But perhaps nowhere has the improvement—technically and expressively—been more astounding than in the field of string quartets. In the past, the outstanding ensembles stood out […]

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