Archive | Reviews

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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World-Premiere of Johannes Maria Staud’s Die Weiden: Opera from the Echo Chamber

The Vienna State Opera, better known as one of the foremost museums of opera, staged a world premiere–the first in eight years–on Saturday, December 8. The Tyrolian Johannes Maria Staud, steadfast contributor to Wien Modern and collaborator with the Klangforum Wien, had been asked to write the work and turned to German poet and essayist […]

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Peter Serkin at 71: Still Evolving, Still Surprising

92nd Street “Y”, New York, NY; December 1 , 2018—Peter Serkin’s Mozart interpretations have always stood out for their intimacy, transparency, and classical reserve. These characteristics certainly revealed themselves in the opening half of Serkin’s 92nd Street “Y” recital, along with a pronounced freedom and intensification of detail. Unlike pianists who play the B minor […]

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Radvanovsky A Brilliant Tosca At The Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York, N.Y. November 5, 2018—The David McVicar Tosca that replaced the hated Luc Bondy production is a finely traditional affair. It arrived at the Met on New Year’s Eve, 2017, with Sonya Yoncheva and Vittorio Grigolo as the protagonists, and as was becoming their youth and charm, he portrayed […]

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Italian Festival Unearths Rossini Rarities

Festival della Valle d’Itria, Martina Franca, July 30-31, 2018—It is the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, and Italy is celebrating in style. Parliament has ushered in a “Rossini year”, and a wealth of Rossini initiatives are taking place across the nation. But what can be learned about the composer when the Rossini revival that began […]

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Book Review: Furtwängler’s Writings–The Intellectual Biography of a Second-Rater

Roger Allen. Wilhelm Furtwängler: Art and the Politics of the Unpolitical. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2018 (286pp). Just how smart was Wilhelm Furtwängler? That he was musically gifted there can be no question, but there is a significant difference between being talented and being intelligent. Similarly, one can be very highly educated—as a function of […]

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Mahler In Milan

La Scala, Milan, June 22, 2018—Herbert Blomstedt, who turns 91 in July, has been guest conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony these past months with various orchestras. On Friday evening he led the first of three performances with the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra. The orchestra’s busy opera schedule apparently did not allow for more than minimum rehearsal […]

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