Vienna Philharmonic Week in New York

Vienna Philharmonic Carnegie Hall 2015Aside from the unseasonably warm weather this week, the other sign that spring has come early to NYC is this week's arrival by the incomparable Vienna Philharmonic for their annual residency at Carnegie Hall. Led by their longtime collaborator - and one-time colleague - Franz Welser-Möst, the Viennese perform staples by Schubert, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, and Bartòk, as well as a new work by longtime VPO violinist René Staar. 

And, lest we forget that we have a pretty good orchestra of our own right here, the Austrian Cultural Forum has just opened a new exhibit celebrating the joint 175th anniversary of the Vienna and New York Philharmonics. On display through March 10, the exhibit features rare materials from both the Vienna and New York archives, including historic conducting scores, programs, letters from composers and conductors, and an installation by Austrian artist Nives Widauer. The exhibit then travels to Vienna, where it will open during the NY Phil's stop there during their spring tour. 

Tickets for all three concerts are still available at the Carnegie box office or online. We'll share our impressions throughout the weekend. 


PROTOTYPE: David Lang's "anatomy theater"

by Annette Gold 

Anatomy theater
“Where is evil?” sings Baron Peel (the booming, authoritative Robert Osborne), described as a “distinguished anatomist of talent and experience” by his contemporaries. Peel knowingly responds, “You can’t hide it…you can’t stop it.” And then he plunges a knife into a defenseless naked woman.

“Post mortem, of course.”

Such is the mood of the 90-minute absurd romp that is anatomy theater: a piece that effortlessly bridges Gilbert & Sullivan and Philip Glass into a feminist, satirical piece worthy of any stage. Especially in today’s reawakening of populist control over women’s health, the statement that women deserve more than the benefit of the doubt (like, for starters, an opinion) belongs in neon, in patter, in repetitions, in themes of hyperbole.

The show began in the lobby – at first, admittedly, I thought it was a tired trick: extras dressed as 15th-century peasants directed guests to different parts of the lobby for an interactive preshow. Then, the murderess Sarah Osborne (growled by Peabody Southwell) was led in shackles through the crowd signaling the start of the show. We all filtered into the black box, an ideal venue for such a piece to resonate intimately, to find Sarah on a box below a noose. The audience took a moment to gawk and settle into their seats. The extras filled in the sides of the theater – their participation transformed the stark space into a medieval enclave; with eye contact easy and the fourth wall broken, the murderess’ desperation was quite palpable before a single note rang out.

Continue reading "PROTOTYPE: David Lang's "anatomy theater"" »


Brooklyn Chamber Music Society Presents Mozart, Beethoven, and Fauré

by Nick Stubblefield

ShaiWosner

On cold, windy Brooklyn nights in January, warming up can be daunting. New Yorkers, like moths to a light, find comfort in small spaces — closer quarters means more body heat. Take the cozy McKinney Chapel of the First Unitarian Church, a warm, welcoming, and acoustically lively urban nook with stained glass panels overhead and hardwood floors underfoot.  This past weekend, an enthusiastic, intimate community of music lovers (young and old) stepped inside, ready to shake off the chill, relax and savor masterworks from three beloved composers, Mozart, Beethoven, and Fauré. 

The Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, a non-profit organization headquartered in Brooklyn Heights, presented a string quartet, consisting of Scott St. John on violin and viola, Carmit Zori on Violin, Daniel Phillips, viola, and Julia Lichten, cello. Shai Wosner provided accompaniment at the piano. The program opened with Mozart’s own quintet arrangement of his Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major. The strings played with precision, enthusiasm, and Mozart-appropriate frolic. While piano concertos are a cornerstone of the major orchestras, hearing one in this up-close chamber setting was a different, equally rewarding experience.  The ensemble’s expressive, dynamic playing was perfectly suited to the room and audience; tender moments were soft, and loud moments had more impact. Meanwhile the resonance of the strings, especially from the larger-framed cello, was a sonic feast for the ears. Seeing the intense focus reflected in the musicians’ facial expressions, watching the intricate fingering and bowing, one could appreciate the artistry in what is perceived as the simple joy of making music.

Continue reading "Brooklyn Chamber Music Society Presents Mozart, Beethoven, and Fauré" »


Preview: Staatskapelle Berlin's Bruckner Cycle at Carnegie Hall

Tonight, the Berlin Staatskapelle kicks off an unprecedented nine concert survey of Anton Bruckner's complete symphonies at Carnegie Hall. Led by music director Daniel Barenboim - who incredibly made his Carnegie debut 60 years ago tomorrow - the concerts will also feature six of Mozart's late piano concertos, which Barenboim will lead from the piano. We won't be at all nine concerts - that's a bit much even for a Bruckner fanatic like me - but I'll be there tonight for the rarely heard Symphony No. 1, along with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27. Tickets and additional info available on Carnegie's website.