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Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008

Classical Review

A friend said to me recently, “I have tickets to La bohème at the Skylight, but after their La traviata last season, I’m not sure I want to go.” For anyone else with concerns about standard opera repertory at the Skylight, be assured that the new production of La bohème, which opened last weekend, is not a wild re-conception of the musical score or libretto to Puccini’s opera. Director Bill Theisen, artistic director at the Skylight, placed the opera in 1930s Paris rather than the1830s, a gentle change . . .
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Classical Review

This past Saturday evening Present Music added Turner Hall to its list of previously unexplored concert venues. The stage, space and acoustics are inviting. With needed refurbishing Turner Hall could become a jewel for classical performances.
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Classical Preview

Fate was kind to us in that a singular genius such as Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) was in the right place and time to so enrich the world of music. His composing career fits into three musical periods.
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

Present Music’s season opener

"It's exciting to play new music there," Stalheim says. "You feel the history, and it's like the place is brought back to life." Bringing the feel of old Turner Hall back to life is Sofia Gubaidulina's Witty Waltzing and Igor Stravinsky's Ragtime, two compositions that turn back the clock to the days when the ballroom hosted formal dances. Caroline Mallonee's Keeping Time In a Bottle, a variation on 100 Bottles of Beer in which musicians play empty beer bottles, is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the old German beer hall tradition. Elena Kats-Chernin's Charleston Noir and Randall Woolf's Hee Haw are digitally sequenced modern variants of antiquated dance numbers . . .
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008

Classical Preview

From March 17-26, 2006, Andreas Delfs led the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in a remarkable Brahms Festival, a series of concerts canvassing the great German master's symphonies, concertos and immortal Deutsches Requiem. Now, as Maestro Delfs begins his 12th and final season as MSO music director, he has chosen not only to revisit all four Brahms symphonies, but also to record them for release on CD. Why does Brahms deserve special attention? "[2008-'09] being my last season in Milwaukee, I wanted to do one more . . .
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008

Classical Review

"Any conductor reflects clearly the instrument he played. My sound is what it is because I was a violinist." So explained Budapest-born American conductor Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985). He was one of the last great giants of conducting whose name became inseparable from the ensemble he led-the Philadelphia Orchestra. His association with Philadelphia began in 1936 and ended in 1980. During this lengthy tenure he fashioned what became known as the "Ormandy Sound"-silken strings, precision in details and overall voluptuousness.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Classical Review

In an era of young classical titans, whose performances had a wider resonance in a world that was still listening, William Kapell was a rising star. The American pianist’s ascent was cut short by a plane crash in 1953. He was only 31. The last recordings he made have been located and collected on reDiscovered (released by Sony BMG), a two-disc set culled largely from radio broadcasts during Australian tours in the summer and fall of his final year. I say “largely” because the producers of this set weren’t content to leave history alone. A missing section from a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was “patched” with a recording Kapell made five . . .
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dance Review

Rebecca Stenn will bring her New York dance company to Milwaukee later this week for performances at Danceworks. A graduate of the UW-Milwaukee Masters Dance Program and a Juliard-trained choreographer, she deals with the themes of home and sense of place, exploring the effects of the strings that tie us to our place of origin. Stenn’s ties to Wisconsin include several works that were created here, including Blue Print Redux, which will comprise the bulk of the Danceworks performance. The initial idea for the evening-length piece was hatched during Stenn’s company’s residency last year at Sheboygan’s Kohler Arts Center. . .
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Johann Sebastian Bach was no idle dilettante, penning music here and there when the elusive muse whispered in his ear. As cantor at Leipzig’s Thomas School, he was part of the state-supervised Lutheran Church bureaucracy of 18th-century Germany; his gifts as a composer were given form by the steady regimen of his official responsibilities...
Friday, June 20, 2008

Classical Preview

PianoArts of Wisconsin has come a long way in the eight years since its first competition. With the 2008 National Biennial Piano Competition and Music Festival running this week June 20-24 in the Milwaukee area, PianoArts has attracted some serious young talent. The 10 finalists hail from six states, including homelands of China, Singapore and Japan to compete for over $18,000 in prize money including scholarships. But as stiff as the competition is to make the Top Ten, so are the requirements, which this year include raising the contestants’ ages to 15-19 to allow for college students to compete. In addition, the Competition’s three finalists will perform . . .

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