Iván Fischer’s Triumphant Return to D.C.

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer (conduct0r), Music Center at Strathmore

Iván Fischer plays by his own rules. The Hungarian maestro has not been shy about criticizing the hidebound American orchestra, preferring the freedoms he enjoys in Europe. In a loss that still stings, Fischer turned down the music directorship of the National Symphony Orchestra, accepting only an interim position for two years, which ended in 2010. On Friday night, Fischer and his beloved Budapest Festival Orchestra visited Washington for the second time since his departure from the NSO, and it was a most happy occasion and a captivating concert…

Read the full review here (Washington Post, January 24, 2015).

Photo by Marco Borggreve
Photo by Marco Borggreve

Matthew Polenzani and the Art Song

Matthew Polenzani (tenor), Julius Drake (piano), Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Matthew Polenzani is enjoying a rich vein of artistic form and a successful operatic career.  Last season, the American tenor sang several leading roles in major houses: Ferrando and the Duke of Mantua at the Met, Des Grieux at Covent Garden, and Faust at the Deutsche Oper.  Yet in the midst of yet another season of high profile, jet-setting operatic engagements, Polenzani is devoting several months to what he has called “a personal passion”: the art song.

Polenzani made his Washington, D.C. recital debut January 14 under the auspices of Vocal Arts D.C. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.  Surveying the art songs of five composers writing in three different languages and spanning three centuries, he offered some richly poetic, stylistically varied explorations of romantic rapture, tragic despair, droll humor, and understated ribaldry…

Read the full review at Musical America (paywalled).

Photo by Dario Acosta
Photo by Dario Acosta

Günther Herbig’s Magisterial Bruckner

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Günther Herbig (conductor), Alon Goldstein (piano), Music Center at Strathmore

The basics are not easy, not least the sprawling grandiosity and lofty ramblings of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. The challenge of taming this longest (at 80 minutes) of Bruckner’s symphonies was left to veteran guest conductor Günther Herbig. The German-born eminence grise led a magisterial performance reflecting an intimate knowledge of the score and a vitality undimmed by age…

Read the full review here (Washington Post, January 18).

Courtesy of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Alsop Conducts Barber, Golijov, and Rite of Spring

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop (conductor), Music Center at Strathmore

Human sacrifice, child murder and an ancient compass rose — one of these things is not like the others. Yet all belonged on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s first program of the new year at Strathmore on Sunday afternoon, a flashy and energetic concert of 20th- and 21st-century music led by music director Marin Alsop…

Read the full review here (Washington Post, January 12, 2015).

Kayhan Kalhor (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)
Kayhan Kalhor (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)