In case you thought music only got political in the 1960s, allow me to disabuse you of that notion. The great composers whose music fills concert halls these days were often very politically active and weren’t shy about expressing their politics in their music.
Nicholas McGegan, who is conducting the St. Louis Symphony in a program of (mostly) 18th-century classics this weekend, is clearly a man who enjoys his work. As he bounded out to the podium for this morning's Krispy Kreme Coffee Concert, his face alight with a cherubic smile, his body language was saying: "this is going to be FUN!" And so it was.
Saturday night’s concert began with Gershwin's fiery "Cuban Overture" and ended with an appropriate Latin encore from pianist John Kimura Parker—Joplin's wistful "Solace: A Mexican Serenade". In between was a high-energy evening from which the spirit of jazz was never entirely absent.
The first concert of the new symphony season was a study in contrasts, to say the least. For many music lovers, I expect, the Big Event of the evening was probably Kirill Gerstein’s surprisingly lyrical approach to the massively popular Tchaikovsky “Piano Concerto No. 1”. For me, though, Charles Ives's “Three Places in New England”—still sounding fresh and radical over a century after it was first composed—was the star of the evening.
"Beautiful" isn't a word you often hear applied to the twelve-tone music of the Second Viennese School, but I can't think of a better one to describe the performance of Alban Berg's 1935 "Violin Concerto" by soloist James Ehnes and the symphony under David Robertson Friday morning.
When the phrase “inside baseball” pops up in the performing arts, it usually refers to a work that assumes some additional knowledge on the part of the audience in order to be fully appreciated. The jokes in many of the Hoffnung Music Festival recordings, for example, take it for granted that the audience is pretty familiar with the standard classical repertoire.
Physics may tell us that you can’t strike sparks with wood, but I’m here to tell you that Vadim Gluzman did exactly that with his exhilarating performance of the Tchaikovsky “Violin Concerto” Friday morning. The difficult first movement cadenza, in particular, was mesmerizing in its intensity and precision.
Concertgoers seeking an aural palette cleanser after three weeks of great Romantic music at Powell Hall got their heart’s desire this weekend as guest conductor Nicholas McGegan led an irresistible program of "Baroque Fireworks".
Michael Feinstein’s appearance with the St. Louis Symphony on Mother’s Day had all the elements of a classic, well-crafted cabaret show.
When one thinks of video games, they may think of the finesse of pushing all the right buttons on the controller, or of the awesome colors and graphics that some newer gaming platforms (Wii, Xbox, Playstation) have.