Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

by Steven Pisano

47258679582_58bd5f9490_o(All photos by Steven Pisano)

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was at Carnegie Hall recently for a four-concert stand featuring works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Ives, and Mahler, under the batons of Adam Fischer and Michael Tilson Thomas. The final night featured Gustav Mahler's last finished symphony, the Ninth Symphony, which actually was premiered by the VPO back in 1912, with Bruno Walter at the podium. It did not receive its premiere in the United States until 1931 in Boston. It is a work every bit as unsettling, mysterious, and mind-blowing today as it must have been when it first was played at the beginning of the twentieth century, just before the First World War engulfed Europe. Mahler was not particularly revered as a composer at that time, though he enjoyed some renown as a conductor, and part of the story surrounding the Ninth was that Mahler never heard it performed, since he died of heart disease at age 50 in 1911.

“In it something is said that I have had on the tip of my tongue for some time,” he wrote to Walter in 1909. For many, the symphony is haunted by themes of death. Mahler's 4-year-old daughter had died of scarlet fever a couple of years before the work was composed, and he himself was first diagnosed with heart problems shortly thereafter. On top of that, he had written Kindertotenlieder, a song cycle on the theme of children's deaths based on poems by Friedrich Ruckert written in the early 1830s after Ruckert's own two children had died of scarlet fever as well. (By a strange coincidence, Kindertotenlieder was also performed here in the city last week by the opera singer Lucas Meachem at the Crypt Sessions, who performed with his wife Irina at the piano. They are expecting their first child in a number of months. A post about that concert will appear here soon.)

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Maggie Rogers at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris

by Katie Zepf

MaggiePARIS, FRANCE - While in Paris two weeks ago (Feb. 22), I had the good fortune to see singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers perform at La Gaîté Lyrique. Rogers was discovered by Pharrell Williams at a master class at New York University less than three years ago, and her unique art pop sound has quickly made her a star. Her singles “Alaska” and “Light On” have only elevated her fame, landing her a spot on Saturday Night Live back in November. I had previously seen Rogers perform at the Governors Ball back in June, and I was excited to see that she was back on tour with new music.

For starters, La Gaîté Lyrique (like most of Paris) is stunning. The white entrance hall is lined with grand staircases and pillars, and was colored only by the neon pink and purple lights filling the space. The performance room itself was a very open general admission concert hall, with a bar and merchandise table located outside. If you’re ever in Paris, I would highly suggest catching a show there.

The opener was Grace Shaw (better known as Mallrat), an Australian singer-songwriter, backed by her DJ, Denim. I was previously unfamiliar with Shaw, whose music is dreamy electro-pop, but I enjoyed the set nonetheless. Playing several of her singles, such as “Groceries” and “UFO”, Shaw provided a relaxed start to the night, with just the right amount of energy throughout her performance to get the crowd excited for Rogers.

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The Kooks at Terminal 5

by Katie Zepf

Luke the kooks Thursday, I had the pleasure of seeing The Kooks for a second time at Terminal 5. The English indie rock band, fronted by Luke Pritchard, are best known for their easygoing and carefree sound, with tracks such as “Naive” and “She Moves In Her Own Way”. Having six albums under their belt, the band’s sold-out show was in promotion of their most recent album, “Let’s Go Sunshine”, released last summer.

The Kooks had an energetic start to their set, playing “Always Where I Need to Be” from their second album, Konk. The band continued with more familiar selections from their older albums, Inside In/Inside Out and Listen. The colorful band’s energy was reflected in the lively audience, who danced and sang along to the upbeat 20-song set. Midway into the show, Pritchard climbed off the side of the stage into the crowd, singing along with excited fans. He slowed things down on the piano for an emotional tribute to his father in “See Me Now”, but picked things up with more cheery songs from their newest album Let’s Go Sunshine. For their encore, the band played their breezy new single “No Pressure”, and ending the night with their most popular song (and crowd favorite) “Naive”.

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Les Arts Florissants, “Rameau, Maître à Danser,” at BAM

by Steven Pisano

33377413548_186fdf8c24_o(All photos by Steven Pisano)

William Christie founded Les Arts Florissants in 1979 as a way to celebrate his love of Baroque music from the 1700s, and for the last forty years he and his fellow musicians have been performing and recording music on original period instruments that had not always been played much before. Much of this music was written for the royal family of France.

At the Brooklyn Academy of Music this weekend, Les Arts Florissants is presenting two rarely performed opera-ballets by Jean-Philippe Rameau, "Daphnis et Egle" from 1753, and "La Naissance d'Osiris" from 1754. Both works were originally performed for the royal court of King Louis XV at his summer palace at Fontainebleau outside Paris, where the royal family went on hunting expeditions.

For New York audiences accustomed to the cutting-edge, very modern productions that BAM is deservedly known for, this blast into the past takes a little bit of getting used to. The music by Rameau does not immediately impress the ear. It is very pretty to listen to, but a far cry from the masterworks of the soon-to-come classical period (Mozart, Rossini, etc.) But as a chance to enjoy music from the Baroque, by such a top-flight ensemble, this opportunity should not be missed.

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