Archive | Classical Music

Mason Bates. Photo by Mike Minehan.

Review: Yannick Nézet-Séguin Leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in ‘Energetic’ Music

Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s latest program with The Philadelphia Orchestra was an intelligently thought-out adventure. The central work was Alternative Energy by Mason Bates, in its East Coast premiere, and Nézet-Séguin chose two other compositions with similar subject matter. Bates focused on the uses of energy in 20th and 21st Century America, and as he imagined it […]

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Review: ‘The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla’ at The National Chamber Ensemble

Before a sold-out house Saturday, March 25, 2017, at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, the National Chamber Ensemble wowed the audience with its creative revival of Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons, brought back by popular demand as a highlight of the Ensemble’s 10th anniversary season. Equally enjoyable and well-received was the opening number La Muerte del Angel […]

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Review: ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ at The Catholic University of America by Natalie Barsoum

Who would have thought that an evening of love, ambition, betrayal, violence, and death could be so enjoyable? That is precisely what last night’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor at The Catholic University of America was – enjoyable. Gaetano Donizetti’s macabre opera based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor (a twisted Romeo […]

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Michael Tilson Thomas. Photo by Kristen Loken.

Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra Performs Seeger, Berg & Beethoven with Guest Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas

Contrast was stark in the concert which Michael Tilson Thomas led with The Philadelphia Orchestra. The first half displayed two radically dissonant pieces from the 1930s — Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Andante for Strings and Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, while the second half was devoted to Beethoven’s classic Symphony No. 3 (the Eroica). You could make […]

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Review: Beethoven’s ‘Leonore’ at Washington Concert Opera

Washington Concert Opera (WCO) concluded its 30th anniversary season with a rare performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Leonore on stage at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium (“Lisner”). Artistic Director & Conductor Antony Walker selected this original version of the 1805 opera. The overarching dark and somber tone of the work reflects Beethoven’s own failure […]

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The viola section, featuring Rachel Ku,. Photo by Jessica Griffin.

Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra Performs Brahms’ Eleven Chorale Preludes, Bach’s Cantata No. 150, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4

The Philadelphia Orchestra set of concerts during the last weekend of February was one of the most imaginatively conceived in recent memory. The program consisted of selections from Brahms’ Eleven Chorale Preludes, Bach’s Cantata No. 150, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Johannes Brahms is the favorite composer of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Most musicians will avoid picking a favorite, […]

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Review: ‘Dead Man Walking’ at Washington National Opera

It is certainly a “Dark Night of the Soul” (St. John of the Cross) for Sister Helen Prejean in the contemporary opera Dead Man Walking. A meditative, spiritually resonant study of our common humanity in the face of unspeakable horror is presented in this probing Washington National Opera production with absolutely stunning production values, vocalizing […]

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Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White, Felix Umansky, Jaime Amador, Arturo Stable. (Photo taken at the sound check.) Photo by Brian Buttler.

Review: LiveConnections Presents Harlem Quartet + Arturo Stable

Once again, LiveConnections Presents (“LCP”) curator Mary Wheelock Javian’s musical matchmaking has produced a lively evening of musical discovery. This time it was the pairing of the Harlem Quartet with percussionist and University of the Arts professor Arturo Stable. As usual with LCP’s offerings, the first set featured the invited string players. The Harlem Quartet’s […]

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Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra Performs Mozart and Brahms

During the 44 years when Eugene Ormandy was music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra (1936 to 1980), he led almost every concert. There was scant need for guest conductors. Now the symphonic world is different. All prominent conductors dash from one city to another, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin needs to do this more than others because […]

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Review: ‘Vive la France: The Magic of Saint-Saens’ at The National Chamber Ensemble

Love was in the air as The National Chamber Ensemble presented their Valentine’s Day performance called Vive la France: The Magic of Saint-Saens.  The concert was described as: Celebrate Valentine’s Weekend with music and passion of the great French romantic virtuoso composer Camille Saint-Saens. Listeners will be swept away on a magical journey. Featuring the Sonata […]

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Joshua Bell. Photo courtesy of The Strathmore Music Center.

NSO: An Evening with Joshua Bell at The Kennedy Center

It has been said that Joshua Bell may be the greatest violinist active today.  After listening to him play, as well as conduct, at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) last night to a sold-out audience who seemed entirely entranced, that declaration may undeniably be more fact than opinion. For […]

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Review: ‘Mason Bates’ KC Jukebox: Ravishment’ at The Kennedy Center

Virginia’s own Mason Bates is the current composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center and now playing the second season of his collaborative KC Jukebox series. The series presents out-of-the-box compositions in a different setting than the traditional Concert Hall would provide. The layout for the performances is quite different, in a flexible space at the Kennedy […]

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Review: Washington Performing Arts Presents The Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor

It is easy to understand why The Philadelphia Orchestra has tapped Yannick Nézet-Séguin to be their music director and conductor of such a prestigious institution. Yannick exudes charisma and delivers one of the most dynamic and physical conducting performances that I have ever witnessed. The French-Canadian conductor is not only energetic and engaging with his musicians, […]

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Review: Soprano Ailyn Pérez at The Barns at Wolf Trap

There’s no business like show business, but does that include opera? If in a few years people finally agree that opera is genuinely another form of musical theater, it may be because of the current career rocketship of American soprano Ailyn Pérez. Never mind her recent run as the star of the Metropolitan Opera’s uber-popular […]

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Review: Pianist Lise de la Salle at the Phillips Collection

Picking through bombastic music to extract the musical message and leave a lingering impression of something other than bombast is a skill to be cherished among pianists on the international stage. That was the main achievement of French pianist Lise de la Salle at the Phillips Collection on Sunday afternoon. Her nearly complete triumph with […]

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Review: National Symphony Orchestra: Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ and Ravel’s ‘Left Hand’ Concerto

With a program packed with masterpieces from Russian and French composers, Sir Mark Elder conducted the National Symphony Orchestra. Sir Mark Elder opened the night sharing some words on the program to provide contextual information for the audience. The conductor said that the pieces we were about to hear had a lot of natural elements that […]

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Review: ‘Happy Holidays’ With the National Chamber Ensemble

The National Chamber Ensemble’s joyful annual Happy Holidays concert was the perfect way to spread the wonderful sounds of Christmas and Chanukah. There were performances from talented musicians of all ages, who showed their love for the music they played and for the instruments that bring them such pride and accomplishment. Soprano Rebecca Littig was the special guest singer […]

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