MP3: Edgard Varese – Ionisation
If we’re keeping score — like in the Olympics — I’d say Cleveland Orchestra still leads. But that’s not at all the fault of Maestro Pierre Boulez — nor his Chicago Symphony players — but the pieces themselves. It was a night billed as daring, repertoire-bending modernism. Neoclassical Stravinsky is no longer a thing one loathes and physically berates with fistfights or catcalls, but it sure doesn’t have you quit the hall humming.
However, if you wanted to see a full squadron of 15 men and women take the stage with an arsenal of percussive aural projectiles – you couldn’t have picked a better night.
Read the rest…
So begins an epic journey. You may have noticed our classical specialist Sam Buker finished off 2008 with a round-up of the top US orchestras as rated by esteemed UK mag Gramophone.
Well, she has taken a bit of her own advice and begun trekking around the country to hear some of the singled-out orchestras. This weekend, Sam will hit up the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (pictured left) performing modern American masters including Edgard Varèse’s Amériques with conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez followed by the Cleveland Orchestra featuring guests conductor Kurt Masur and pianist Louis Lortie performing Beethoven’s Symphony Nr. 7 and Piano Concerto Nr. 1
Any classical aficionado will readily profess some strong preferences on orchestras, something that is critical to interpretation and repertoire selected for any given season. Finding your spiritual match is fantastically rewarding and can leave you with blissful, life-affirming performances. We’ll see how these top-rated orchestras match up with Sam’s tastes!
MP3: Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5 – Iv. Allegro Non Troppo by Bernstein & the NY Phil
In 2008, the Brit music mag Gramaphone ranked the top-world orchestras with the help of critics and musicians. We could, of course, head to Amsterdam, Berlin, or Vienna to capture the best of the best, but our home turf is rich. Here’s my take on performances that will bring the 2008-2009 season to a wondrous, raucous close.
1. Chicago Symphony Orchestra (pictured right)
We read excellent things about the CSO’s brass, which is, at times Baltimore’s Achilles’ heel. In Chicago, immerse yourself in contemporary classical. See the noble father-and-sometime-bully, Pierre Boulez conduct a unique “American” homage: the work of Stravinsky who expatriated to Cali, Edgard Varèse, French transplant to New York, and Elliot Carter — the true American centenarian — born on Dec. 11, 1908. Celebrations and new compositions are being mounted everywhere.
This Carter-champion, Boulez, himself is 83, so witness this living master while the getting is still good: Feb. 26th – Mar. 3rd.
Read the rest…