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…

Rainy Friday Miscellany

– I’ll be hearing lots of music in the next few days – the Network/Mendelssohn Club/Philadelphia Chamber Music Society performances of my Ariel Songs this weekend;  the NY Phil at the Kimmel Center here in Philadelphia tonight (a run-out of this week’s subscription program of Stucky, Berlioz and Mussorgsky-Ravel, with Joyce DiDonato, Alan Gilbert conducting) as well as Eric Owens‘s recital, again at Kimmel, next Tuesday.

– My hometown is also home to an amazing book store.

– A lovely post for the beginning of Lent.

– Many of these are quite funny.


Dolce Suono, Mahler, and Schoenberg

A great concert tonight in Philly by Dolce Suono with the amazing Eric Owens as soloist in new works by David Ludwig, Stratis Minakakis (both Penn alums), Fang Man, Steve Stucky, and Steve Mackey. (The Steves were absent due to performances in Carnegie Hall (Stucky) and with the LA Phil (Mackey). Ah, to have such problems…) Owens also did the Mahler Songs of a Wayfarer in the Schoenberg arrangement, and the underappreciated pianist Charles Abramovic offered an elegant performance of the Schoenberg Op. 19 piano pieces (with some idiot’s cell phone ringing during the last delicate movement). This is the first concert in a project commemorating the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death and the 60th anniversary of Schoenberg’s death, and the commissioned works all had threads of connection with those composers.

New site-ings and Dolce Suono

A new website for violinist extraordinaire Miranda Cuckson – check out the media page for lots of video and audio; and a newly revamped website, now with a blog, for composer extraordinaire Steve Mackey. A Mackey premiere here in Philly at the Dolce Suono concert this coming Wednesday, along with new pieces by Steven Stucky, Fang Man, Stratis Minakakis, and David Ludwig. Eric Owens will be the soloist.