Admirers of the seldom-heard 1913 Italo Montemezzi opera L'amore dei tre re (The Love of the Three Kings) are used to having to hunt for it, if only because it was so popular in the first half of the 20th century and fell off the map during the second half. But at the intermission during the Academy of Vocal Arts presentation of the opera Tuesday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, I was on a different search - for what I wasn't hearing.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin's fifth season as Philadelphia Orchestra music director might not immediately look that different from the previous four. In some ways, that's intentional. Nézet-Séguin has often talked about the advantage in creating a familylike circle of performers - such as Karen Cargill, who was memorably featured in this season's Messiah and who will be back in May 2017 for the Mahler
Even staunch Bruckner devotees are inevitably bewildered by the range of options presented by the Symphony No. 4. In the wake of the composer's endless rewrites, seven editions, some radically different, are available. But the lack of a consensus text may well be encouraging Yannick Nézet-Séguin's evolving approach to the piece, between his 2011 Montreal Orchestre Métropolitain recording and Thursday's Philadelphia Orchestra performance at the Kimmel Center.
Bass-baritone Eric Owens, one of Philadelphia's great performing arts success stories, sets such a high standard in opera you have to respect the kinds of recital risks heard on Sunday at the Kimmel Center. As risks will, they had varying degrees of success.
Eighth Blackbird has so decisively changed the new-music landscape that the least listeners can do is meet the group more than halfway at each Philadelphia reappearance. That attitude was needed at its Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert on Friday at the Kimmel Center.
Individual charisma can be regarded suspiciously in chamber music, because the medium is so much about cooperation. Thus, the Orion Quartet concert Sunday with Philadelphia Orchestra oboist Richard Woodhams packed the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater with promises that the excitement would arise from integrity rather than superficialities.
Did a tour bus suddenly let out in front of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul around the same time as its Friday Christmas concert? No, the line stretching down the windswept block was leading to the first joint concert by Tempesta di Mare, Piffaro, and Choral Arts Philadelphia. No doubt their combined mailing lists helped bring together a large crowd for three weekend concerts, plus an ambitious program titled "Advent Vespers, Dresden 1619."
David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.