Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Harp on a Boat Near Despair Where the Sea Seeks the Sun Through Intractable Clouds

It’s as though some dank and damp late October day you sent someone down to the village seeking solace from members of the Berlin Philharmonic. Only Schubert could assuage your Weltschmerz. To your castle they sent their soloists: harpist Marie Pierre Langlamet, cellist Ludwig Quandt and their guests Anna Prohaska, soprano and Lara St. John, violin. Such a fantastical and improbable evening was seemingly captured in a beguiling release from the Ancalagon label, sumptuously recorded and presented.
   This recording belongs to Ms. Langlamet who plays on on every selection. Appropriately opening with the three Gesänge des Harfners the harp’s discretion invites a gloomy intimacy to Ms. Prohaska’s pure, sensitive tellings of despair. The D major Violin Sonatina, with all of its noble restraint, within the strictest of classical parameters paints a haunting world of ever subtly changing moods and shades.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Witches, Fairies, Storms and Saints

   The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, with their principal conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, presented a refreshingly unusual program spanning three centuries of well-known composers’ more peripheral works, united by literary themes, in Carnegie Hall on November 6th.

   The most polished and refined performance was Dallapiccola’s Piccola musica notturna, inspired by a poem of Antonio Machado’s, which opened the second half. This night music with a still sense of foreboding was an ideal showcase for one of Mr. Heras-Casado’s greatest strengths: his transparent lyricism. Flickered with many fine solos, one can up the ante, and principal horn Stewart Rose’s shapely contribution inspired his colleagues to this evening’s expressive heights, including the outstanding pliancy of clarinetist Bil Jackson.
   Tchaikovsky’s poem on Shakespeare’s The Tempest provided this night’s most thrilling music, and the solo horn richly deserved his solo bow in this veritable concertante part, where he intoned Prospero’s voice with a mature masculine wisdom, endless in breath and width of range. Caliban’s music was appropriately boorish, but Miranda and Ferdinand’s love seemed more tentative than filled with ardour, and never quite blossomed.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mahler’s Testament According to Yannick

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a figure that commands our respect, and frankly, adulation. He is serendipitously matched with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which Carnegie Hall presented in a nearly stupendous performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony on October 31st. This colossal work represents nothing less than the triumph of life over death, and the transitive relation of universal themes to the individual. Mr. Nézet-Séguin manifested this correspondence with outstanding assurance to invite the orchestra’s best playing. This was grandeur without grandiosity, a single-minded dedication to the task at hand without a trace of ego or pomposity.