Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Extraordinary...

Sometimes, our expectations for something are so great that the reality is invariably disappointing. Recently the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under music director Manfred Honeck, has been receiving such glowing reviews that it is tempting to expect too much from one of their concerts. Did they let me down? Read on, dear reader, read on.

For the complete review, click here: https://bachtrack.com/review-honeck-beethoven-leshnoff-pittsburgh-symphony-june-2019

Monday, May 13, 2019

No Prior notice...

A curse of the contemporary classical music composer may be that your beloved work may never be played for an audience, or once played, it will never to be heard again. There are reasons for this, of course: there is a lot vying for limited performance time and sometimes a work is simply not meritorious enough. Yet Robert Spano, the Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is a master at identifying and performing great contemporary works that warrant repeat performance. This week’s concerts demonstrated the principle that a repeat hearing of a meritorious work is worth the time and effort.
Robert Spano © Angela Morris
Robert Spano
© Angela Morris
Richard Prior’s 2013 work …of shadow and light… (incantations for orchestra) was given its world premiere by the ASO in October 2013. At the time, I wrote: “Dr Prior, from Emory University, has produced a stunning tone poem that is at times forbidding and anxious, while at other jubilant and exuberant. This is a piece that must find its way into the ASO's repertory, as well as that of other orchestra's.”  For the complete review, go here: 

https://bachtrack.com/review-spano-prior-oliverio-yancich-atlanta-symphony-may-2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Guest review...

AMC has been a guest reviewer for Earelevant.com, edited and published by noted classical music journalist and composer, Mark Gresham.  Here is a link: https://www.earrelevant.net/2019/05/road-trip-four-reviews-from-nebraska/

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Brief review...

Brief Review:

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) has been selling out many times this year, and this weekend’s concerts were no exception. Danish-born conductor, 49- year old Thomas Sondergard, was the guest conductor. This is the first of a series of three visits that Sondergard will be making to Atlanta between now and the end of next season. It is almost as if he were auditioning.

Bernstein’s 1965 “Chichester Psalms” led the program. It’s a pleasant piece that recalls songs from “West Side Story,” “Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” with a splash of Prokofiev thrown in. Parts of it are beautifully lyrical and the text is quite religiously oriented. The ASO chorus provided an inspiring, if occasionally loud, performance. The soloist was countertenor Daniel Moody, who has a wonderfully warm, non-breathy, voice that suited the music perfectly. Soon the centenary of Bernstein’s birth will be gone and the frequent programming of his music will be just a memory.

The second part of the program featured Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The first movement introduction contains the murmurs that foretell the triumphant final movement, but here the murmurs were a bit too loud. Sondergard’s chose, Scherzo, moved briskly along, with some fine tympani playing by March Yancich. The third movement, Adagio, was nicely played but seemed to lack a forward momentum, so that at times, it dragged. The fourth movement, Presto, was exciting. Again, Sondergard chose a fast tempo that seemed consistent with the exuberant message of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” on which it is based. However, the tumultuous introduction to the fourth movement was surprisingly tame. Thomas Cooley, the tenor, was easily the most powerful of the four soloists, and Andrea Mastroni, the bass, was good, but had occasional odd accents, as on the initial “nicht diese Töne!” The ASO chorus was splendid but might have been even more impressive if reduced in size by about a quarter. When it is loud, it is quite loud in the hard acoustics of Symphony Hall. 

Maestro Sondergard made a memorable debut in Atlanta and we can look forward to hearing more from him in the upcoming months.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Symphony orchestras' artistic planners often program a concerto sandwiched in between an overture and a symphony. For this week’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert, that formula was slightly adjusted in a most intriguing way, and the program provided a welcome opportunity to hear major works from the 18th, 19th, and 21st centuries. In addition, the program highlighted how a composer’s cultural heritage can influence his music output.

Michael Gandolfi’s 2015 Imaginary Numbers was born out of a commission to honor, in part, the composer’s friendship with ASO Music Director Robert Spano. Gandolfi is one of the most honored composers in the contemporary American classical music scene. He has won numerous prestigious awards and he is head of composition at the renowned New England Conservatory of Music. He is also a member of Spano’s “Atlanta School”, which is designed to perform the work of contemporary American composers – including Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, Osvaldo Golijov and Adam Schoenberg. One of the most important characteristics of the music of these composers is that it is often tonal, lyrical, and understandable at first listening. For the complete review, go here: https://bachtrack.com/review-mozart-bartok-gandolfi-atlanta-symphony-orchestra-spano-denk-andrus-brady-ardan-tiscione-april-2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Unraveling...EXCLUSIVE!

An AMC exclusive!


This is the world premiere video of Domenic Salerni’s new transcription of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major- for violin and piano, titled Unraveling.  In this recording, Salerni plays violin with Stephen Whale on piano.  For more information about Domenic, go here: www.domenicsalerni.com.  For a copy of the score for his transcription, go here:  https://www.domenicsalerni.com/scores



For an interview with Domenic, go here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2enVkh3m7DU




Monday, March 11, 2019

Celebrity...

Celebrity, fame and public attention paid to individuals are rampant in our media-saturated culture. Of course, the world of classical music has its own celebrities, well known to devotees and fans. This week’s program by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was a lesson about classical music celebrityhood.
Henrik Nánási and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra © Jeff Roffman
Henrik Nánási and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
© Jeff Roffman
On the podium was Hungarian-born guest conductor Henrik Nánási, who is probably more of a celebrity in the opera house than in the concert hall.