Eric Owens at Kimmel Center

You hardly need me to tell you how superb Eric Owens is – check what Alex Ross and Allen Kozinn have to say. Still, I will tell you that his recital in Philadelphia tonight was fantastic. It’s hard to say what is more thrilling – the power of the instrument at full throttle, or the delicacy of which he is also capable. He has the musical goods, but, as Ring audiences at the Met are aware, he is a powerful actor as well.

The program, a reprise of the New York program Ross and Kozinn write about, began with exceptionally gloomy groups of Wolf, Schumann, and Schubert songs. (When I spoke to him afterwards, Owens said he expected to have sold a lot of drinks at the bar during intermission.) There were lighter moods in the French groups of the second half, but the encores – Purcell’s Music for a While, and the Copland arrangement of “At the River” – opened up an even fuller range of expressive types. Veteran accompanist Warren Jones provided rich-toned accompaniments, with impeccably balanced voicings.

Back to the Kimmel for James Gaffigan’s subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra a week from Thursday…

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