Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, since 2007. All written content © 2015 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Concert Review: When Alienation Attacks

Steven Wilson plays NJPAC.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Steven Wilson with his new signature model guitar made by Jeff Babicz.
Photo by Rocco DeCarlo for StevenWilsonHQ.
Steven Wilson is a man out of time. A progressive rock hero for the modern age, he writes music with little care for radio or music television. A self-taught songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he made his first recordings at the age of 13. He's matured since into a  brilliant, fearless songwriter with tart lyrics and a gift for imagery. In this decade, Mr. Wilson set aside his long-running band Porcupine Tree and other projects to launch a successful solo career. His music remains bleak, fierce and iconoclastic. On Sunday night, he brought his five-piece band to the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark for the first of three area dates supporting his new solo album  Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Concert Review: Between East and West Lies the North

Susanna Mälkki debuts with the New York Philharmonic. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki made her Philharmonic debut this week.
Photography by Markku Niskanen © 2009 Ensemble Intercontemperain
As the New York Philharmonic prepares to end its 2014-15 season, America's oldest orchestra is sailing through uncertain waters. The orchestra is planning to vacate its premises for two years later this decade for necessary and total renovations to Avery Fisher Hall. They have finally elected a concertmaster to replace Glen Dicterow. Things became turbulent earlier this year when music director Alan Gilbert announced that he would step down.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DVD Review: Fire, Flood, and Formaldehyde

The La Scala Ring ends with Götterdämmerung.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
A wall of corpses: Lance Ryan (left) and Iréne Theorin in Götterdämmerung.
Photo © 2014 Teatro Alla Scala/ArtHaus Musik. 
Richard Wagner originally planned the Ring Cycle to be one opera, Siegfrieds Tod, which would tell the epic story of Siegfried and his adventures among the Gibichungs, a grasping, Rhine-dwelling royal family who figure prominently in the German national epic the Nibelunglied. However, he wrote the music for the retitled Götterdämmerung last in the Ring, meaning that the epic, sweeping music propels a libretto that could be suitable for French grand opera. This stylistic dichotomy is never easy for any conductor to resolve, but on this 2014 Blu-Ray filmed at La Scala, conductor Daniel Barenboim does a pretty impressive job.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DVD Review: The Wild One

The Guy Cassiers production of Siegfried storms La Scala.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
"D'you want to know how I got these scars?" Peter Bronder's Mime (right) prepares to tell
Lance Ryan's Siegfried (left) in Act I of Siegfried.> Photo © 2013 Brescia/Amisano/Teatro alla Scala.
Siegfried is the third and most problematic opera in Wagner's epic Ring Cycle. It's a three-act fairy tale about a lunk-headed hero who slays the monster, gets the treasure and (fumblingly) wins his woman over a five-hour stretch. But in the hands of conductor Daniel Barenboim in this 2014 Blu-Ray from La Scala (filmed in 2012 and released last year on the ArtHaus Musik label) , the languors of this opera seem to just fly by. It's not that Mr. Barenboim is fast, it's that he keeps the action moving forward producing the most exciting Siegfried on DVD since the one he made at Bayreuth in the 1990s.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.