Sunday, April 19, 2015

Archive: February, 2009

POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 8:37 AM
I didn't think I'd make it out of the office in time to cover the Vienna Philharmonic concert Tuesday night, so I handed coverage over to David Patrick Stearns, whose review will appear in the paper Thursday. But I finished up just in time to make curtain and catch what quickly became the Lang Lang show. The pianist pushed and pulled a Chopin concerto into a fully distorted state, and at one point became so antic at the keyboard he actually started conducting the conductor, Zubin Mehta. The audience ate it up. The orchestra's wonderful sound, antique of a certain period and gently naturalistic, was there as always. But it's interesting to hear that an orchestra unanimously cited as one of the best, if not the best, can have its rough moments. You couldn't say that the ensemble was consistently tight - which I'd define as starting notes at the same time, changing notes at the same time - and definitely not as tight as the Cleveland Orchestra in its recent Verizon Hall appearance. Maybe it was Mehta, or perhaps just one of those tour moments that for reasons of being made of human stuff, doesn't reach full precision. Which it not to say it wasn't a terrific concert. Just that if the Vienna Phil scores, at its best, 99.5 percent, this was a lovely 97 percent. Of course, you'll have the benefit of a second opinion in The Inquirer tomorrow. A side note: it would okay with me if I attended a concert at which the announcer did not make note that David F. Girard-diCarlo, the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and Republican rainmaker, was in the audience. So small town, that practice.
Peter Dobrin @ 8:37 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 2:43 PM

Facing a dramatic downturn in its endowment and waning city support, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is cutting staff, delaying exhibitions, curtailing programs, trimming salaries and — subject to city approval — increasing admission fees.

The cuts will bring the museum’s operating budget down by about $1.7 million to $52 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and, the museum hopes, will stave off a deficit the following year forecast as high as $5 million.

The museum will eliminate 30 positions — about seven percent of the staff — in all areas, though no curators are being let go. Of those 30 jobs, 16 are layoffs of current personnel, with the remaining positions lost by not filling vacancies.

Peter Dobrin @ 2:43 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2009, 3:06 PM
Mason Jones, principal hornist with the Philadelphia Orchestra during the Ormandy era, died this morning, the orchestra announced. Jones was a star player in many of the recordings that defined the orchestra. He had a combination of refinement and presence that was, until very recently, the unspoken philosophy of the orchestra's horn section. He was also personnel manager - a job that used to go to players rather than administration. His recordings - and especially those with the old Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet - were the reason a lot of players got into the business. He was the quintet's last surviving original member. An obituary will appear in The Inquirer shortly.
Peter Dobrin @ 3:06 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009, 1:20 PM
Heart-breaking family news about Anthony Gigliotti, the longtime Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist who died in 2001. Gigliotti, who was with the orchestra 47 years, married a woman named Tai-Ling late in life. A few in the orchestra's orbit might remember her as a controlling presence. What's happened since Gigliotti's death is extremely disturbing. From the St. Petersburg Times: "Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 50, was arrested, as was her live-in boyfriend, Anton Angelo, 45. They were charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment for their alleged roles in the merciless beatings and captivity of her adopted son." The son, 16, "was stripped naked and battered with a 3-foot piece of wood and a metal-tipped water hose," according to authorities. It's not clear whether the son, adopted by Tai-Ling Gigliotti, was also adopted by Anthony Gigliotti, though he reportedly adored the boy. The Gigliottis met when she came to study with him.
Peter Dobrin @ 1:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009, 8:29 AM
It's hard here in the arts-rich Northeast to appreciate the big footprint in South Florida of the arts-presenting organization started four decades ago by charismatic impresaria Judy Drucker. But for anyone who heard Beverly Sills, Itzhak Perlman, Pavarotti or any number of visiting orchestras for the first time at one of her concerts, the news that Concert Association of Florida may be going belly up is devastating. A report by South Florida Classical Review says bankruptcy is imminent, and as solid as the story is, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, the most immediate of which is: Will the New York Philharmonic's tour appearance in Miami Feb. 26 go on, and/or will the Philharmonic get paid for its concert? “It breaks my heart,” said Drucker, who retired from the group two years ago. “I’m sure they tried their best to work things out, but it’s a sad day for music in Florida.” Having grown up just north of Miami, I always had mixed feelings about Drucker's Concert Association. On the one hand, she brought culture to a relative musical wasteland. But on the other hand, I had the strong feeling that by bringing in great orchestras, Drucker was draining away what little support there was for a great resident orchestra in Miami. The New World Symphony was a wonderful achievement, but as a training orchestra for young talent that comes for a few years and then leaves, it is hardly a substitute for a real full-time city orchestra. And so, with an incredibly expensive new arts center - which may or may not come to the rescue in this sad chapter - South Florida continues its now-five-decade-old struggle for bringing European-based culture to the New World.
Peter Dobrin @ 8:29 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 3:20 PM
While traditional classical radio withers, classical music is doing it for itself. The Curtis Institute of Music has put up its own "radio" station on its website, and in terms of clarity and fidelity it sounds pretty terrific. Here is the Curtis orchestra's recent Berlioz Symphonie fantastique at the Kimmel Center with Christoph Eschenbach.
Peter Dobrin @ 3:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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