June 16, 2011 |
Vladimir Ashkenazy closed out the National Symphony Orchestra's subscription season with a bracing trio of classics by Walton and Shostakovich. This repertoire plays to the NSO's strengths and avoids its weaknesses, and the performances are well worth hearing. The principal offering, Shostakovich's epic Tenth, is one of the great symphonies of the past century. Composed in a period of relative liberation, immediately after the death of Stalin, it looks back on the sclerotic oppression of his era with...
April 23, 2013 |
William Steck, a violinist who performed under some of the most eminent conductors of the latter half of the 20th century and served as concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra for nearly two decades, died April 13 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. He was 79. His death, from respiratory failure, was confirmed by his wife, Ann Steck. From his appointment as concertmaster in 1982 until he stepped down in 2001, Mr. Steck was a familiar and essential presence at NSO...
May 2, 2013 |
This season, the National Symphony Orchestra has started occasionally varying the format of its subscription concerts. Rather than offer the same thing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the NSO sometimes plays something different on Friday night. This week, Friday's concert is a preview of the performance that the orchestra will give May 11 at Carnegie Hall — its first performance there with its current music director, Christoph Eschenbach. On Thursday and Saturday, however, instead of...
October 4, 2012
There's a whole lot of loving going on at the National Symphony Orchestra this weekend. Its current program, which opened Thursday, focuses exclusively on pieces about tragic romance, expressed fulsomely, from Wagner's Prelude and "Liebestod," from "Tristan und Isolde," to Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" and — possibly gilding the lily — "Francesca da Rimini. " In between those two composers comes the most aching and poignant work of all, Peter Lieberson's "Neruda Songs.
November 3, 2011 |
When musicians venture outside their comfort zone, the risk-taking can be thrilling. The same is true for audiences. After British composer and conductor Oliver Knussen's last appearance with the National Symphony Orchestra — as part of an intense CrossCurrents festival in 2009 — it was no surprise that his latest appearance at the podium of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall brought challenges as well as rewards. On Thursday night, the NSO tackled three of the four pieces on this somewhat daunting program for the...
June 4, 2013 |
The classical world is not one for randomness. It is the enemy of control, the bearer of distraction, the desultory foe that ruins concertos and careers. But randomness was thrust upon Augustin Hadelich at age 15, when a fire consumed his family home and part of him, burning his face, his abdomen, his bow arm. The German violinist, who was well on his way to a professional career, nearly died and required months of rehabilitation and several skin grafts. He...