January 17, 2013 |
Christoph Eschenbach is fiercely loyal to a cadre of musicians he has discovered, mentored and partnered with over the years. It's customary to roll one's eyes a bit when discussing such blind loyalty, particularly when some of the musicians don't hit the mark, at least as conventional wisdom sees it. It's especially customary to roll one's eyes when discussing it in reference to pianist Tzimon Barto . In the classical music world, Barto is...
November 8, 2012 |
When Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra convened for Thursday night's concert, the guest of honor was absent. Lang Lang, in the middle of his week-long residency with the orchestra, is playing a different Beethoven concerto with them every night — the Second on Thursday, the Third on Friday and the Fifth on Saturday. But due to atrocious traffic in downtown D.C. (ask me how I know), Lang Lang was unable to leave his hotel until after the concert was scheduled to start.
November 8, 2012 |
Since I saw the pianist Lang Lang's recital on Sunday afternoon , my inbox has been full of messages from people assuring me that yes, he really is a kind of musical antichrist. What Lang Lang does, supposedly, subsumes the score to his ego in a way that is profoundly anti-musical. I've uttered my share of this kind of criticism of Lang Lang in the past, and I fully expected to feel the same way this week, during his residency with the National Symphony Orchestra. But on reflection, I'm curious about how emphatic so...
November 2, 2012 |
Classical music presenters sometimes try to bill concerts as big, unforgettable events. That approach can be problematic if your goal is to cultivate an audience that wants to come again and again, week after week. For most people, one or two big unforgettable events a year is quite enough — not every subscription concert needs to be unforgettable. But there are some monuments of classical music that simply are big events, like Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. That is a massive...
June 21, 2012 |
At the end of May, when the National Symphony Orchestra was winding down its season and preparing for its current South American tour , Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra's music director, conducted the suite from Richard Strauss's opera "Der Rosenkavalier. " This is sublimely rich and frothy music, like Mexican chocolate, and it's the kind of thing in which Eschenbach revels. At some points, he turned his whole body to face the first violins, the instruments with the most rewarding melody, and moved his arms as...
June 7, 2012 |
As the National Symphony Orchestra closes out its Kennedy Center season this weekend — with a well-played, easy-listening program of Berlioz, Lalo and Tchaikovsky — music director Christoph Eschenbach and his NSO have taken full measure of each other by now, with the music-making having become more efficient and natural. Most gratifying is the tempering of the winds and brass, which for far too long have routinely drowned out the NSO strings. Balances on Thursday night were better, even...