Three of the bigger musical personalities to come out of Astral Artists in recent years became a temporary piano trio Sunday afternoon in a concert titled "Encore!" Its significance wasn't lost on the audience at Trinity Center for Urban Life, which was packed despite the sublime weather. The program was what you'd expect from these strong-minded musicians - in that you really didn't know what to expect.
Operas written at the dawn of the art form have blank-slate possibilities: Presented here on Wednesday under John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi's 1607 Orfeo was a time-travel experience from a world we can barely imagine, while also presenting a viable future model for how special-interest pieces can live outside the opera house.
CAMDEN - A large, blue package with one of the largest bows in the history of gift-giving sat in the Symphony in C box office Saturday, containing a recording of every concert departing music director Rossen Milanov has conducted over the last 15 years with this orchestra.
Nothing all that unusual seemed likely to unfold at the Philadelphia Orchestra's second consecutive subscription week with principal guest conductor Stéphane Denève: A potentially pop-slanted John Williams film score suite; Graffiti, a choral work by the increasingly popular Magnus Lindberg; and excerpts from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet.
The artistic solidity on which Richard Goode made his name has given way to encroaching adventurousness over the years, though the limitations of that were intermittently apparent at his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital Tuesday at the Kimmel Center.
Among Verdi's many beloved operas, Don Carlo stands apart by virtue of its psychology. In a genre whose theatricality is so charged with elemental, unwavering motivations, Don Carlo finds moral complexities in matters of church and state, freedom and repression, with no clear path of rightness in the intractable world of the 16th-century Spanish Inquisition.
Even the greatest artists have performances in which all the right things happen but the core experience just isn't there. The surprise with soprano Dorothea Röschmann is how that can happen from piece to piece, not just in her Wednesday recital with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, but in past recordings.
In the current generation of so-called rock-star symphony orchestra conductors, Stéphane Denève definitely has the hair. Though not as wild as Gustavo Dudamel's or as glossy as Riccado Muti's, it corkscrews with such a mind of its own you're sure he didn't plan the look. He may be so preoccupied with musical matters he doesn't even notice it. Clearly, it's an accident.
The play begins with a disembodied head, tastefully parked in the middle of a table, amiably conversing with some sort of technician - in what could be a Samuel Beckett play or the sci-fi film The Brain That Wouldn't Die.
NEW HOPE - National Pastime, Bucks County Playhouse's brand new musical about Depression-era baseball, all but promises to be an insufferably inspirational story about big-hearted athletes, America triumphing over economic adversity, and that eternal source of sentimental hero worship, Babe Ruth. And yes, it's all there - but comically contextualized in a different set of all-American values: lies, deceit, and mercantile ethics in small-town Iowa.
The elements of George Crumb's "American Songbook" series have arrived in such quick succession in recent years that a return to them at Orchestra 2001's Crumb@85 celebration Sunday at the Curtis Institute's Gould Hall revealed few shocks but a more cultivated sense of poetic meaning.
David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.