I've promised myself for quite some time now that I'd finally get around to catching up with posting my writing for the Times here with a couple of omnibus posts, and now I'm finally making the time for it. Here's the first, covering everything between the two most recent reviews I've posted individually here – Jon Gillock's March recital and the Bard Music Festival in August – and notably including my first two non-classical music reviews for the paper, Yes and Steven Wilson.
Although I'd prefer to post my Times work in a timely manner, I'll admit that seeing so many weeks' worth of reviews all crammed together does give an unusually good representation of the range of things I'm called upon to cover. And in case it matters, the reason the Nate Wooley review of June 11 is listed here before the Girma Yifrashewa review of June 10 is because Wooley's concert actually preceded Yifrashewa's (June 6 and 8, respectively).
Another post bringing all things Times completely up to date will follow, hopefully very soon.
"The Reformed Drunkard" at the 59E59 Theaters
March 23, 2013
"Given everything this production had in its favor, the one lamentable aspect was a translation that eschewed poetry in favor of literalness."
"Faust" at the Metropolitan Opera
March 25, 2013
"You can’t blame the originator of the current production, the Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, for trying to impose nuance, depth and relevance where the composer and his collaborators provided none."
Jeremy Denk at Carnegie Hall
March 26, 2013
"Again, colossal interpretations conveyed the sense of composers grappling with the ineffable, inventing new vocabulary to express the inexpressible."
Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
April 6, 2013
"…like the New York Philharmonic playing Bernstein’s music, the Boston Symphony inhabits Bartók’s concerto like no other ensemble."
Alarm Will Sound at Zankel Hall
April 9, 2013
"Mr. Pierson and his musicians played with an exactness and verve that might inspire any composer to dream big."
Yes at the Beacon Theatre
April 11, 2013
"…few bands of Yes’s stature control their own destinies entirely; fan expectations and fiscal necessities exert unobserved pressures."
"Sunken Garden" at the Barbican Center
April 17, 2013
"Dig beneath its modern trappings and eye-popping 3-D film effects, though, and you find a remarkably conventional core… 'Sunken Garden' is positively old-fashioned in its idiosyncratic depiction of a flawed hero seeking to rescue a fair maiden imprisoned in a fairy-tale land by a mysterious sorceress."
"Through it all, Mr. Volkov was tireless and omnipresent, not only conducting and performing, but also giving informal chats, moving furniture and directing traffic."
"An elaborate adaptation of Walt Whitman’s 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,' the piece is Ms. Higdon’s most trenchant work and among her loveliest, qualities undiminished in this skillful reduction."
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall
April 26, 2013
"Fervently dedicated to Wagner, the symphony is awash in echoes of 'Die Walküre,' 'Tristan und Isolde' and 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg' — though Bruckner somehow converts all hints of eros into further worshipfulness."
Steven Wilson at the Best Buy Theater
April 29, 2013
"Like a child conducting his bedroom stereo, Mr. Wilson careered around the stage barefoot, flapping his hands to marshal Mr. Travis’s airy flute and saxophone lines, Mr. Guthrie’s aqueous solos, Mr. Holzman’s shimmering embellishments, and machine-gun bursts from Mr. Beggs and Mr. Minnemann."
"Any disappointment in missing Stravinsky’s pellucid orchestral writing was mitigated by the sparkle of the pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, and in the brilliant singing of the choir…"
American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
May 4, 2013
"Time has shown that no subject or context is too complex or provocative for the conductor Leon Botstein to investigate in his programming for the American Symphony Orchestra, nor any topic so clear-cut that he will not muddy the waters by incorporating elements likely to prove provocative."
"HPSCHD" at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
May 6, 2013
"During the second hour, heeding a cue from Richard Kostelanetz’s review of the premiere for The New York Times, I lay on the floor near a concealed loudspeaker and closed my eyes, drifting with the din. (Arising 30 minutes later, I read on Twitter that I had been spotted napping on the job.)"
Maurizio Pollini at Carnegie Hall
May 9, 2013
"For any pianist who has been performing as long and as well as he has, minor blemishes are practically inevitable and easily dismissed. Perhaps that forgiveness is extended less readily to Mr. Pollini, since so much of his stature is based on flawless precision and its revelatory effects."
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
May 10, 2013
"The auditorium rang with whoops and shouts as the orchestra took the stage, audience members twirling green banners that matched the ties and sashes the musicians wore."
"The storm, which flooded Ms. Anderson’s Lower Manhattan basement, looms from the start of the piece. It arrives near the end, when she describes seeing old keyboards and stage props floating, ruined."
"Even without sets, props or magic aural box, 'Fama' amounted to intensely potent theater, at times taking on positively hallucinatory effect as you strained to discern what instrument might conceivably be producing this unfamiliar sound or that oblique effect."
Tertulia at Harding's
May 21, 2013
"The concert program included approachable, insightful notes, as well as succinct tips in basic concert etiquette. Notably, the idea of proper and improper times for applause was dispensed with."
"Despite what prime-time television has conditioned us to expect, not every season-ending program has to conclude with oversize special effects and unanticipated twists."
Cantata Profana at Roulette
May 25, 2013
"Backed by a restless soundscape of twisted early-music parodies (Handel and Haydn most clearly), nervous chatters and birdlike twitters, Mr. Ward stalked the stage in a robe and pajamas, expertly booming and screeching through the work’s disjointed reminiscences."
Either/Or Spring Festival at the Kitchen
June 3, 2013
"I like program notes and artist biographies, and will take any opportunity I’m offered to look at the score of a new piece — usually a matter of taking an initiative I admittedly don’t always get around to."
Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall
June 4, 2013
"A magical moment arrives in every concert I have seen involving the conductor Nicholas McGegan, and it comes before any music has been made."
Lang Lang and Friends at Carnegie Hall
June 5, 2013
"Say what you will about Mr. Lang’s piano playing — in the past I have found him elegant, hyperbolic, generous and gaudy, often in the space of a single performance — but his instinct to extend the benefits of his fame to others is entirely laudable."
"You could practically see rays of sunlight breaking through banks of clouds as Mr. Wooley, trumpet pointed heavenward, reached the summit of his mountain once again."
Girma Yifrashewa at Issue Project Room
June 10, 2013
"'Classical music is music without Africa,' Brian Eno bluntly declared in a 1995 interview published in Wired magazine. 'It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control,' he said. An art-rock provocateur, Mr. Eno managed to patronize two cultures in a single blow…"
"Making new music is hard work, both for the composer confronted with a blank page (or screen) and for the performer, who is usually faced with limited time to hone an unfamiliar piece before offering it to the public."
"Blue Monday" at the Cotton Club
June 20, 2013
"Just after 8 p.m., a new pianist discreetly slipped into the band. A string quartet suddenly materialized. Without warning, an opera broke out…"
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall
June 22, 2013
"The work’s infernal mechanics, pensive meditations and juggernaut intensity are familiar turf. But the symphony also has a pinch of new swagger, and a bluesy grit that recalls Bernstein’s 'On the Waterfront' music."
"The piano-wire litany, played through loudspeakers, engulfed an audience seated under the resonant archway, and drew in curious passers-by."
John Zorn's "Sacred Voices" at the Guggenheim Museum
June 25, 2013
"…moments of convergence — a passage of blanched harmony in 'Earthspirit' set against pale, white hues; 'The Devil’s Walk' (from 'Madrigals') awash in lurid reds; sudden dusk at the concert’s end — felt like more than synchronicity."
Eyvind Kang at the Stone
July 4, 2013
"Amplified instruments gave Ms. Darboven’s stark Minimalist patterns an industrial edge; factor in the evening’s stifling heat, and the experience took on a hallucinatory intensity."
Original Music Workshop "The Violin" at Federal Hall
July 11, 2013
"Paola Prestini is probably best known as a composer, but her business card might more accurately read 'human resources alchemist,' such is her gift for bringing together disparate artists, technicians and other creative professionals to produce cross-disciplinary works greater than the sum of their parts."
"Now, just over five years after his death — and with an acclaimed staging of 'Michaels Reise um die Erde' ('Michael’s Journey Around the World'), the second act of the opera 'Donnerstag aus Licht' ('Thursday From Light'), opening at the Lincoln Center Festival on Thursday — Stockhausen appears to have assumed his least-likely status of all: surefire box-office hit."
Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governors Island
July 15, 2013
"As Ashley Bathgate played and passers-by gawked, the rumble of air traffic overhead complemented her instrument’s groans."
"…even measured by the high standard this annual affair has sustained, this year’s festival — which runs through Aug. 24 here — rises to new levels of innovation, curiosity and, yes, chutzpah. Make no mistake, that’s meant as praise."
"I can’t recall a more gripping performance of 'La Cathédrale Engloutie' ('The Submerged Cathedral'), the high point of an account both exacting and spontaneous."
"Oresteia" at Bard College
July 30, 2013
"…if fleeting patches of shaky ensemble attested to the unfamiliarity of this noble enterprise, Mr. Botstein nonetheless drew a handsome performance…"
"'I’m interested in a modern theatrical language, but only in a complete harmony with the music making. And so I recognized that it’s best if I do it myself.'"