Saturday, September 5, 2015

Archive: November, 2012

POSTED: Sunday, November 11, 2012, 8:48 AM
Photo: Pete Checchia

Above all else, she makes a beautiful sound. Some singers are willing to forgo sound quality to put emotion behind a text. But in her Friday night recital for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at the Perelman Theater, mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink swathed story after story in an unfailingly civilized tone.

Argentinean with Slovenian roots, Fink has the twin virtues of richness and clarity. Often it was impossible to separate her polish from that of her pianist, Anthony Spiri. In the fourth in a set of Schumann songs on texts by Nikolaus Lenau, “The Herdsgirl,” Fink’s sound was nearly indistinguishable from Spriri’s right hand, so neatly matched were they in pitch and color. That phenomenon repeated itself throughout the evening.

On a program weighted with Mahler (along with a charming subset of five from Dvořák’s Biblical Songs), the Schumann might have seemed, at first, less multidimensional. But hear what was going on in the piano part to “Loneliness” – a keyboard evoking the spindly tendrils of a dark forest grabbing at a visitor who has come seeking answers. When a troubled couple walks through a garden in “The Oppressive Evening,” piano and voice are pursuing paths so different they could be performing separate pieces, reaching concordance only upon a death wish.

POSTED: Friday, November 9, 2012, 1:23 PM

Q2 Music, WQXR’s online station for contemporary music, will devote 24 hours of programming to Elliott Carter starting at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 13. Hosting is violinist and Carter specialist Nadia Sirota. The marathon includes tributes from colleagues, friends, admirers and collaborators throughout the day, the station says.

Carter died this week at age 103.

Listen here.

POSTED: Thursday, November 8, 2012, 1:44 PM

Catherine Keener, star of A Late Quartet, took some hints from violist Carrie Dennis to look convincing in the movie. Dennis, a former member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, is now the Los Angeles Philharmonic's principal violist.

Interesting LA Times piece by David Ng here.

POSTED: Monday, November 5, 2012, 8:41 PM

The grand old man of new music is gone. Elliott Cook Carter died Monday in New York. He was 103.

AP obit here

A page from his publisher's website gives an idea of what he had been up to lately, including a premiere by Gustavo Dudamel, pianist Daniel Barenboim and the Orchestra of La Scala just days ago.

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

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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