My colleague David Patrick Stearns says the best concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra's recent tour of Europe was the one in Paris.
The program: Glinka Rouslan et Ludmila Ouverture; Ravel Concerto en Sol majeur; and Berlioz Symphonie fantastique. Charles Dutoit conducts.
Lucky us, we can listen here. After you follow the link, hit the button that says "(ré)écouter."
In case you're not in the habit of scanning the European press, here are some reviews from the Philadelphia Orchestra's three weeks in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria, Scotland, England and France. The music press doesn't agree on much, but there was something of a consensus from this tour, which, if it had a title, would have to be the Love and Triumph Tour.
Musicians return home Sunday. If you happen to run into a member of the ensemble, you might consider extending your hand and hearty congratulations.
Here are some links to English-language reviews:
Tuesday's dedication of Curtis' Lenfest Hall sang the praises of many - the architects, donors, Curtis director Roberto Diaz, and executive vice president Elizabeth Warshawer. The most ardent tones were saved for H.F. "Gerry" and Marguerite Lenfest, who are the school's biggest benefactors since Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist put the Curtis Institute of Music's original endowments in place.
All this praise was, of course, much earned.
But one name that deserved mention never was. I hesitate to identify him, since he was always happy to work behind the scenes. But it's important to remember, especially now I think, how much Dick Doran had to do with the success the school is experiencing.
It's happened again. Poor James Levine can't catch a health break. The Metropolitan Opera revealed Tuesday that Levine underwent emergency surgery Thursday after falling in Vermont and damaging one of his vertebrae. He had been recuperating from previous surgery on his back when the accident occurred.
Levine has withdrawn from all of his fall performances with the Met, and Fabio Luisi will take his place. The Met has signified Luisi's increasing importance to the company by giving him the more expansive title of principal conductor. Luisi had been principal guest conductor; Levine retains his music director title.
“While Jim’s latest setback is hugely disappointing for all of us, he joins me in welcoming Fabio’s larger role,” said Met general manager Peter Gelb in a prepared statement. “I am very pleased that Fabio was able to rearrange his fall schedule, and I appreciate the understanding of those companies with whom he was scheduled to conduct.”
Salvatore Licitra, the Italian tenor who rose to fame in 2002 after stepping in for Pavarotti, died yesterday at Garibaldi Hospital in Catania, Italy. According to his website, he suffered injuries when a possible cerebral hemorrhage caused him to lose control of his motor scooter.
From an AP obit:
Salvatore Licitra, a tenor known in his Italian homeland as the "new Pavarotti," died Monday at age 43 after nine days in a coma following a motor scooter accident in Sicily. Garibaldi Hospital in Catania, Sicily, announcing the death, said Licitra never regained consciousness after suffering severe head and chest injuries in the Aug. 27 accident. Doctors had said Licitra crashed his scooter into a wall near the town of Ragusa, apparently after suffering an interruption of blood to the brain while driving. The hospital said Licitra's family agreed to make his organs available for transplant.
The Financial Times reviews the Philadelphia Orchestra's recent concert at Edinburgh. It's pretty much a rave.
A friend who heard both the Philadelphia Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts in Lucerne in the past few days offered these observations (starting with Chicago):
Unbelievable. I didn't know an orchestra could play so loud. Even from the second balcony. If you were drawing a cartoon, you'd show everyone with their hair streaming backwards from the force. To be fair, Chicago had somewhere between 10 and 15 more players on the stage than Philadelphia, but the sonic power was more than just that. They played a Bernard Rands piece, Strauss Death and Transfiguration (which I thought was boring) and Shostakovich 5th - which knocked everybody's socks off. I guess I would say that it was a difference in intention between the French concept of iron delicacy (Eiffel Tower) and brute force (city of the big shoulders?). Muti was Muti. He seems ageless. Not a gray hair on his beautiful head. His hair - and the rest of him - completely animated. He shamelessly milked the crowd.
Some things never change!
Ceding to the New England debut of Irene, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has called off its Sunday afternoon Beethoven 9 - Tanglewood's first cancellation in the orchestra's 75 years there. Philadelphian Eric Owens would have been a soloist, as well as Academy of Vocal Arts graduate Joyce El-Khoury.