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Gary Liam Scott

Thursday, 10 January 2008 19:00

Highland Fling

Although patronage of the arts, particularly music, continues to increase, ironically many orchestras now face the necessity of re-inventing themselves and devising evermore innovative programs to entice listeners who might otherwise be drawn to today's vast offerings in opera, dance, chamber music, cabaret and musical theatre. Although this makes greater work for the orchestras, we as audiences are beneficiaries of this continuing outpour of creative programming.

Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00

Ptah Williams Jazz Quartet

Jazz at Holmes Summer Concert Series at Washington University 

8/2/2007 only
Reviewed by Gary Scott
If you think about it, jazz is sort of like a uniquely American version of chamber music (OK, I realize that chamber musicians generally don't use amps and microphones, but I think the comparison is still valid). When jazz is performed in a comfortable cabaret-style venue, replete with tables and comfortable chairs and free(!) refreshments, the listener achieves the same up-close and personal intimacy that characterizes European chamber music from previous eras.

There are those who feel that perhaps classical music needs more flash and verve in order to reach out to audiences that increasingly are drawn to visuals. Maybe they are right--for example, movies about musicians (such as Hillary and Jackie or Madame Souzatzka) are generally successful, as are the blowout performances aired on public television during pledge drives, etc., but such visually stimulating performances, although usually excellent, rely heavily on hype and visual appeal.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra 

November 30 - December 2, 2007
Reviewed by Gary Scott
In spite of a disappointing opening work, this weekend's offering from the St. Louis Symphony was one of its most riveting concerts in recent memory. British born pianist, conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey, currently in the midst of his eighth season with the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, electrified the stage with a bold yet eloquent performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, in which Tovey was both conductor and soloist.
Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00

Sister Angelica and Gianni Schicchi

Union Avenue Opera

Through 7/28/2007
Reviewed by Gary Scott
"Tears before Laughter" would fittingly describe Union Avenue Opera's production this summer of Sister Angelica (Suor Angelica in Italian) and Gianni Schicchi, two of the three one-acts penned by Giacomo Puccini. The two operas are very different in theme, style and casting needs, yet they are bound together by Puccini's brilliant orchestration and seamless development of musical and dramatic tension, whether the subject be tragic or comic.

Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00

Duke Bluebeard's Castle

Union Avenue Opera

Through 10/31/2007
Reviewed by Gary Scott
People either love the music of Bela Bartok--or they love to hate him, no doubt due to improper introduction to his music, and perhaps also because they have been over-exposed to his less talented imitators. For those of us who would add his name as the "Fourth B" to the triumvirate of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, few composers can equal his sense of drama, psychological insight, and musical inventiveness--accomplished using the traditional orchestra and without resorting to musical gimmicks, unusual sound effects or other forms of tonal fingerpainting.

Monday, 09 February 2009 19:00

Songs of the Self

St. Louis Symphony      

February 6 through 8, 2009
Reviewed by Gary Scott
The ubiquitous commercial for one of the Turner movie networks proudly proclaims, "We know drama."  However, the crafters of the hopefully ear-catching remark surely do not know Sir Edward Elgar so well, or Sir Michael Tippett, or even Tchaikovsky.  This weekend the St. Louis Symphony, led by guest conductor Christopher Seaman, on loan from the Rochester Philharmonic, and featuring soloist Daniel Lee, principal cellist of the SLSO since 2005.  The works of the aformentioned composers illustrate that music in its pure form embodies all the drama that a human soul can produce.

Monday, 12 January 2009 16:10

Opera Night

St. Louis Symphony

January 9, 2009
Reviewed by Gary Scott
[Pictured: Soprano Kelly Kaduce]

Since assuming the helm as music director of the St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson has enacted some bold marketing moves that seem to be providing both financial and publicity dividends.  Such ventures as the Classical Detours programs, special interest programs (Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz) and the Winter Passes have both boosted the financial base of the orchestra and have established it even more fully as a valued community institution.  Friday night, January 9, marked yet another successful theme concert.  Soprano Kelly Kaduce joined forces with guest conductor James Gaffigan and the orchestra for "Opera Night"--an unabashedly schmaltzy, hammed-up and spectacularly beautiful tribute to three great operatic composers:  Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini and Richard Wagner.

Sunday, 18 January 2009 19:00

Groundwork for the Modern

St. Louis Symphony         

January 16, 2009
Reviewed by Gary Scott
[Pictured: Susan Graham]
Although composers have experimented with atonal music--that is, music without a key or "tonal center"--for about a hundred years now, the concept still seems foreign to our ears.  Atonal music can be interesting, powerful and dramatic, yet it has not garnered a decisive following.  Some have even argued that, far from sounding innovative and original, atonal music can seem trite and static.  But the St. Louis Symphony's performance this weekend of an early masterpiece by an atonal composer, Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs, demonstrated that atonal music can indeed be captivating and tingling with emotion.

Friday, 08 August 2008 19:00


Union Avenue Opera

Through August 9, 2008
Reviewed by Gary Scott
Now in its 14th season, Union Avenue Opera has established itself as a venue for some of the most purely dramatic works in the entire operatic repertoire.  Through skillful blocking, lighting and scenery, combined with dedicated and gifted performers eager to perform in such a setting, UAO has demonstrated that simplicity and directness can cut to the listener's very soul.  This was ably demonstrated last season by such works as Puccini's Sister Angelica and Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle.  This year, UAO is tackling Giuseppe Verdi's Otello, along with Bizet's Carmen--offset, for variety, by Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore.

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