What happens when an immigrant Jewish accountant from St. Louis falls in love with a Missouri country girl? You get gefilte catfish, matzo balls made of cornmeal, and a unique love story that has charmed millions and made the world see that Lebanon, Missouri, is a town of far greater depth of spirit than most people realized.
The art of the solo recital lives on, and it will likely do so as long as human beings value talent, skill and personal expression. Crafting a recital devoted to the work of a single composer poses a particular challenge, but Peter Henderson’s choice of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) formed an exciting demonstration of the rich and stimulating palette from which this most visually-oriented composer gifted us.
Although Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”, is a purely instrumental work, the weekend of October 12-14 at Powell Hall it assumed a choral sheen under the baton of guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos that seemed to utterly transform the work.
Although themed as “The Virtuoso Orchestra,” opening weekend for the St. Louis Symphony on September 28-30 brought listeners much more than virtuosity—although artistic skill reigned throughout the evening. The orchestra, under the helm of Music Director David Robertson, whisked the audience on a wide journey not just of sound, but of vibrant images culled from nature, history and the inner visions of great composers.
One might ask why a good Lutheran boy like J. S. Bach would choose to compose a Catholic Mass, let alone infuse it with the very essence of his genius. But more importantly, we should see the Mass in B minor not as a tribute to any one religious path, but as a monument to the spiritual yearnings of all people, regardless of their faith.
It's all there: passion, infatuation, love, death, poverty, suffering, joy and art. And yet, La Boheme defies categorization as just another soap opera. After 116 years, Giacomo Puccini's music of the heart still grabs the listener's soul more willingly than any siren call ever could.
The recent performance by the St. Louis Symphony of Brahms' monumental "Symphony No. 4" marked not just a performance event, but proved once again that the SLSO is perhaps the most cogent and vital music educator in our community.
David Robertson's on-stage introduction to Philippe Manoury's "Synapse", for violine and orchestra, made more sense than the composer's own description, which fluttered about such terms as "blocks", "formulas" and "specific grammar" without really explaining their true meaning. However, Robertson's substantial personal charisma seemed insufficient to make such a piece palatable to what was easily the sparsest audience in memory at a St. Louis Symphony concert.
Few human emotions are not found in Sergei Prokofiev's epic cantata Alexander Nevsky. Fear, bravery, adrenaline rush, grief, thirst for freedom, love, the thrill of victory, and, ultimately, happiness -- all were delivered handsomely on November 19-20 by the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus under David Robertson.
A teacher of mine once observed that the defining characteristic of the Romantic era was not fiery emotionalism and heroics, but introspection. This was clearly demonstrated in the performance by Belgian guitarist Raphaella Smits in her performance for the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society on November 6, 2010, at the Ethical Society.