Monday, February 12, 2018

Abbado and Ososrio make good music...

For the last several weeks, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concerts have been a sell-out. Featuring all of the piano concertos of Beethoven, the popular series of concerts has also benefited from the residency of soloist Jorge Federico Osorio, who has shown both a prodigious talent and memory for the music. This weekend’s three concerts also feature the very popular Mozart Requiem. The locally well-liked Roberto Abbado, a frequent ASO guest-conductor, returned to lead this program.  For the complete review, go here:

Monday, January 29, 2018

Possibly a star is born...

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has sold out several concerts in past weeks and is expected to do the same in the next. At the same time, the orchestra is experiencing several major personnel changes, including the announced departure of Music Director Robert Spano in 2021. Part of what is driving the ASO’s current success has been some shrewd programming, some outstanding guest conductors and great soloists. This weekend’s concerts stayed on the same trajectory. However, after intermission at Saturday’s Symphony Hall concert, Assistant Conductor Stephen Mulligan had to step in for the ailing Spano, and he also led Sunday’s entire program at the ASO’s University of Georgia concert. For the complete review, go here:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

NewsJust in...

Robert Spano Announces Plans to ConcludeRobert Spano Announces Plans to Conclude His Two-Decade Tenure with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

More later.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Maestro Manfred Honeck was honored as Artist of the Year by the International Classical Music Awards.  It is certainly a well deserved honor.  Be sure to see AMC's interview with him here;

Monday, January 15, 2018

Oundjian is a keeper...

As part of its recognition of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, the ASO has scheduled several of his works throughout the year. It provides a great opportunity to hear and assess the works of the quintessential American composer, who, in recent years, is not heard quite as frequently as he once was. Bernstein’s strength was that he synthesized the cultural atmosphere of the time (including Pop music and Jazz) and applied the rigors of his musical genius to morph it into pieces for large orchestras. In contrast to other composers who delicately incorporated folk or Pop music into their works, Bernstein’s references are not subtle – he doesn’t just include themes or melodies – he adopts the energy, instrumentation, rhythms and colors of the popular culture. The Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free are good examples of the way in which this music, composed in 1944, is musically linked to the 1940s New York City zeitgeist. This, combined with his fairly limited orchestral palette, results in many pieces that often sound strikingly similar. The Dance Variations are bright, brassy, bold and rhythmically driven, but all too sonically familiar to anyone who has heard Bernstein’s other compositions. The Variations pieces were composed for the Ballet Theater and choreographer Jerome Robbins, and were the musical backdrop for three men competing to impress their female audience by each individually dancing a gallop, a waltz, and a danzon. Oundjian kept a brisk pace throughout the work and the ASO performed with enthusiasm, which ratcheted up the music’s already high energy.  For the complete review, go here:

Photo credit:  Dane Sponberg.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Guest Came to Dinner....

Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse (STP) is a wonderful venue for chamber music.  It is resonant, the musicians are on seated on a raised stage so sight lines are quite good.  And for attendees, having the chance to purchase a meal is an added benefit.  Last evening, the Atlanta Chamber Players (ACPs) returned to the STP with guest Andres Cardenes.  It was a night of sublime music making.

The first two works on the program were by Sergei Prokofiev, a great Russian composer whose works have seen a recent resurgence because of the 125th anniversary of his birth.  Anyone growing up in the 1950's and whose parents had a television likely would have heard his music; it was frequently used in the live dramas (e.g., "Studio One") that made up the new medium's "First Golden Age."  The composer's ballets, symphonies, and movie scores are most familiar and it was a good choice of the ACP to program his lesser known "Five Melodies" and "Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Double Bass."  The "Melodies" is a piano-violin duet, here featuring  Elizabeth Pridgen and guest violinist Andres Cardenes.  The music is beautiful, but more boldly modern than Prokofiev's works for larger ensembles.  There are passages where it is almost as if the two parts are playing different pieces- but somehow the music is still very appealing.  Cardenes is a master of the violin and his instrument was one of the sweetest sounding in recent memory.  His playing style is very fluid as if the violin was an extension of his left hand and the bow of his right arm.  Pridgen, a strong and intense player, was a great match for Cardenes.  The 25-minute long "Quintet" was originally written for a post World War I chamber ballet. Its six movements contain some jazz-like sections, but it not to the degree that can be heard in Stravinsky's chamber ballet L'Histoire du Soldat, from roughly the same time period.  The addition of the oboe (played ably by Elizabeth Koch Tiscone) and the clarinet (played beautifully by Alcides Rodriguez) added to the jazz-like sound.

The final work was Schumann's stunning "Piano Quintet in E-flat major" featuring Cardenes, Helen Hwaya Kim (violin), Catherine Lynn (viola), Brad Ritchie (cello), and Pridgen.  This music is so lushly beautiful and full of wonderful melody that only a curmudgeon would dislike it.  Here again, Cardenes' playing soared; everything that made his performance so strong in the "Melodies" was even more evident here.

This was a great evening of fine music making by the ACP.  The program was nicely balanced and the venue is great.  The next concert of the ACP at the STP is April 17, 2018.  It will be titled "Octets at the Tavern."  For information, go here: