The Washington Post

Review digest: of Lang Lang, Midori, Josh Bell, and more

Violinist Andrey Baranov, the winner of this year’s Queen Elisabeth Competition, performed at the Phillips Collection on Nov. 4. (Credit: Neda Navaee) (Neda Navaee)

Last week, I heard and reviewed another worthwhile performance that not everyone will embrace: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. It was a treat just to hear it done live, and I was glad to hear that the house was fuller on Saturday night than it had been on Thursday. On the intervening night, Christoph Eschenbach played chamber music with his musicians; Charles T. Downey reviewed.

It was a big week for big names in DC; both Midori and Josh Bell gave recitals on the same night. Stephen Brookes reviewed Midori; Robert Battey reviewed Bell.

Battey also checked out the American Symphony Orchestra under Leon Botstein, using the term “under” rather loosely, given Botstein’s weaknesses as a conductor. He had nothing but praise, however, for the Escher Quartet — “a quartet to watch.”

Brookes covered the finale of the Post-Classical Ensemble’s Shostakovich festival, including orchestral transcriptions of the 8th and 10th quartets. He also liked the young pianist Michael Brown, a last-minute replacement for Leon McCawley.

Joan Reinthaler found the violinist Andrey Baranov adroit but cool in his Phillips Collection recital. She also enjoyed the Amernet Quartet at the Kennedy Center, though she wished they’d brought some contemporary work along with them.

Cecelia Porter was impressed by the pianist Alessio Bax, but also a little exhausted. But she greatly enjoyed the soprano Emmanuelle de Negri, presented by Opera Lafayette.

Robert Battey enjoyed the DC debut of the violinist Paul Huang (see review). (Photo by Christian Steiner) (Christian Steiner/Christian Steiner)

Robert Battey wasn’t crazy about the idiosyncratic playing of the Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey. But he was quite taken with the stylish, clean approach of the young violinist Paul Huang in his Kennedy Center debut.

Joan Reinthaler appreciated the “lavish virtuosity” of I Musici di Roma. She also took in two all-American choral programs, praising the development of the group Choralis, but expressing some disappointment in the program Rose of Sharon, saying the CD was better. Cecelia Porter mostly enjoyed Robert Shafer and the City Choir of Washington.

Stephen Brookes heard Musicians from Marlboro playing, among other things, a Ligeti trio — “an absolutely riveting piece, and an unforgettable performance.”

Finally, welcome back to Grace Jean, reviewing again for the Post after a hiatus. She saw the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Cornelius Meister featuring two of its own in the Brahms double concerto

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.



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