Category Archives: Classical Music, Live

The section for music-related posts.

Maddening Mahler

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: conductor Valery Gergiev is uneven, arguably the most inconsistent major conductor on the international scene. When he’s at his best, he’s sensational.

And yes, I can understand that Gergiev + Mahler + the London Symphony Orchestra = sold-out venue, in this case Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center this afternoon. The problem is that the formula is not necessarily good for the music itself. And though the LSO played brilliantly for teh most part, Gergiev’s sometimes micromanaged, sometimes messy, and completely erratic way with Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 undermined the work’s fury, made too elegant outbursts of rage in the third movement, and completely missed the Kubler-Ross-like home stretch from grief to acceptance. I’ve seen memorable performances of this work under Maazel (with the Cleveland Orchestra during my college years) and Haitink (with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra), but if anything, the present performance made me miss the great Klaus Tennstedt more than ever.

Quick Take — Riverside Symphony @ Alice Tully Hall

An out-of-towner may be led to believe, given press coverage and recording activity, that the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra are the only professional small orchestra action in New York City. This is of course far from the case, and one of the most interesting of the lesser-knowns is the Riverside Symphony, now in its 31st season.

Continue reading Quick Take — Riverside Symphony @ Alice Tully Hall

Levine / MET Chamber Ensemble @ Zankel

My two cents are live at Classical Source. A few weeks ago, The New York Times reported that the MET opera audience was shocked by the appearance of a “frail” James Levine on stage after his first performance following back surgery. Last night, Levine appeared in better shape than I had expected: he still walked slowly with a cane, but when he went around the stage to thank players his energy level was noticeably up a couple of notches — and when he conducted from the sturdy, elegant chair in which he was seated, he still had a wide range of motion.