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.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Concert Review: When Bambi Met Godzilla

Mozart and Respighi at the New York Philharmonic.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The amazing fingers of Yuja Wang.
Photo by Felix Broede © 2015 Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics.
Programming a modern symphony orchestra concert requires balance, between the aesthetics of classicism and Romanticism, between modernity and the crowd-pleasing tonal music that is an ensemble's bread and butter. However, this week's New York Philharmonic program looked to be wildly out of balance, pitting a Mozart piano concerto (No. 9, the Jeunehomme) against Ottorino Respighi's giant Roman Trilogy, three sets of tone poems that, like the legions of ancient Rome, can simply bludgeon an audience into applause.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Manon Lescaut

Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kauffmann Roberto Alagna heat up February.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
She's got the ways and means to New Orleans: Kristine Opolais is a glamorous Manon Lescaut.
Photo by Kristian Schuller © 2015 The Metropolitan Opera.
Jonas Kaufmann is out and Roberto Alagna will make his debut as the Chevalier des Grieux in a new production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Kristine Opolais sings the title role. Director Sir Richard Eyre updates Manon Lescaut to Paris during the Nazi occupation. (Why, we're not sure.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Concert Review: The Slow Journey Into Silence

The Jerusalem String Quartet plays Beethoven.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Jerusalem String Quartet: Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, Kyril Zlotnitov and
Ori Kam. Photo © 2015 harmonia mundi usa.
This week, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center embarked on a six-concert survey of the complete string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven. It fell to the Jerusalem String Quartet to open the cycle with the six works of Op. 18 over two nights. Tuesday night's concert at Alice Tully Hall featured the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Quartets, key works in examining Beethoven's transition from able craftsman to an inspired, heroic figure.

Season Preview: New World, Old School

The New York Philharmonic unveils 2016-17.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
On the mic: Music director Alan Gilbert (left) and Philharmonic president Matthew Van Besien
announcing the coming 2016-17 season at the Rubinstein Atrium. Photo by the author.

The coming season represents two milestones in the illustrious history of the New York Philharmonic. It is the ensemble's 175th season, and as such has a reassuring focus on traditional favorites like Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. And it's also the last season for current music director Alan Gilbert, whose tenure has been marked by an interest in programming new music and an attempt to make America's oldest orchestra reach a contemporary audience.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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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.