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    Review: Thomas Adès Meets the Profound Beauty of Schubert

    The Danish String Quartet returned to Carnegie Hall with its Doppelgänger project, pairing Schubert’s String Quintet and a premiere by Adès.Franz Schubert and Thomas Adès are two composers whose works are capable of touching the cosmos — in different centuries, and often in different ways.The beauty of Schubert tends to be quiet and shatteringly calm, his postcards from the beyond written in lyrical melodies sometimes underlined with nothing more than a chord. Adès, particularly in the past decade, seems to have flung open the gates of heaven, unleashing forces that overwhelm and awe in their immensity.Yet each has also done the opposite: Schubert, in his aptly nicknamed “Great” Symphony, with its Beethovenian heft, for example, and Adès in his hypnotic and weightless “Paradiso” section of “Dante.” At Zankel Hall on Thursday, the composers met somewhere in the middle as they were paired for the fourth and final installment in the Danish String Quartet’s Doppelgänger project.One of the great pleasures of recent seasons, Doppelgänger has surveyed Schubert’s late quartets while commissioning new works that respond to them. Thursday brought perhaps the composer’s finest chamber work, the String Quintet in C; Asbjorn Norgaard, the Danes’ violist, joked from the stage, “We are the Danish String Quartet, with a Finnish cellist,” gesturing to their guest, Johannes Rostamo.In previous Doppelgänger programs at Zankel, Lotta Wennakoski’s “Pige” homed in on the maiden of “Death and the Maiden,” and Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s “Rituals” played with the repetitive nature of the “Rosamunde” Quartet. (Because of pandemic delays, the project will actually return next season, with Part I.) Each evening has ended with an arrangement of a Schubert song; on Thursday it was “Die Nebensonnen,” from “Winterreise.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    At Carnegie Hall, Weimar Is Irresistible but Vaguely Defined

    Carnegie’s intermittently illuminating festival “Fall of the Weimar Republic” has suffered from interjections of too much standard repertory.In the middle of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s suite of incidental music for “Much Ado About Nothing,” there’s a march meant to accompany Dogberry, Shakespeare’s comic constable, and his fellow watchmen.Written in the late 1910s, and played by Ensemble Modern at Zankel Hall on Friday as part of the Carnegie Hall festival “Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice,” the march stepped along crisply, with dryly officious humor. But it also had an edge of sincere sternness. Cast over the bumptious charm was a hint of the ominous, of a real (rather than satirical) military buildup.The same uneasy combination of optimistic energy and dark clouds characterized Germany during the Weimar Republic, an experiment in democracy that began in the wake of the country’s defeat in World War I, in 1918, and lasted until the Nazi takeover in 1933.Weimar has lately been seized on by many Americans who see in it parallels to our own era. (To wit: tenuously free republican institutions, mainstream conservative complicity with the far right, divisions on the left, fear of a fascist overthrow, etc.)For Election Day 2020, two former U.S. attorneys general published an opinion piece in The Washington Post, saying that images from the Weimar era were “fresh enough in memory to offer a cautionary tale.” A few months later, Foreign Policy offered “Weimar’s Lessons for Biden’s America.” This January, Bernie Sanders said that if President Biden couldn’t prove government’s efficacy to voters, “then we are the Weimar Republic of the early 1930s.”That month, Carnegie opened “Fall of the Weimar Republic,” now in its final weeks. Past Carnegie festivals have focused on South Africa, Vienna, Berlin, Venice and migrations to America, among other topics.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Yunchan Lim, Jan Lisiecki and Alexander Malofeev at Carnegie

    Jan Lisiecki, 28, is the elder statesman alongside Alexander Malofeev and Yunchan Lim in a trio of recent recital debuts at the hall.At 28, Jan Lisiecki can certainly be called a young musician. But of the pianists making recital debuts at Carnegie Hall recently, he’s something of an elder statesman.Last month, Yunchan Lim, then still in his teens, confidently pressed through the challenges of Chopin’s études. And on Tuesday, Alexander Malofeev, 22, was an unruffled guide through the richness of Russian late Romanticism and its afterglow.Both Lim and Malofeev were appearing at Carnegie for the first time, but Lisiecki has been an occasional presence with orchestras there since 2016. While the main hall’s scale can be daunting for a solo recitalist, with almost 3,000 people watching, on March 13 he seemed calmly at home from the start.The second half of Lisiecki’s program was given over to Chopin’s 24 Preludes (Op. 28), while before intermission came an assortment of other short pieces in that genre: a kind of prelude made of preludes. This was a canny mixture of chestnuts and rarities. Lisiecki combined the easily recognizable likes of Bach’s Prelude in C (the opening of “The Well-Tempered Clavier”) and Rachmaninoff’s in C sharp minor (Op. 3, No. 2) with much less common selections from sets of preludes by Szymanowski, Messiaen and Gorecki.Lisiecki plays with gentle judiciousness, aristocratic reserve and a touch that tends shadowy without losing a core of clarity. He clearly relishes soft playing, with sensitive effects of distant bells and moonlit drizzles in Messiaen’s “La Colombe” and “Le Nombre Léger,” and a murmured sotto voce in Chopin’s Op. 28, No. 15.His recordings of Chopin’s études and nocturnes offer lovely, generally introverted, smoothed, even sleepy takes on those works. But in an interview when the nocturnes were released, Lisiecki said that the album’s slow tempos wouldn’t work in concert.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    ‘Winterreise’ Review: Hiding a Roiling Grief

    On Friday, the pianist Mitsuko Uchida and the tenor Mark Padmore illuminated the bleakness of Schubert’s genre-defining song cycle at Zankel Hall.It was a performance of hard-won wisdom. When the eminent pianist Mitsuko Uchida and the tenor Mark Padmore teamed up for Schubert’s “Winterreise” on Friday at Zankel Hall, they brought the maturity of hindsight to a genre-defining work of young, unrequited love. The concert was part of Uchida’s Perspectives series with Carnegie Hall.Schubert’s cycle comprises 24 songs, most of them in minor keys, and derives from the natural world endless metaphors for heartache. The winter’s journey of the title begins with a breakup, and the narrator spends the rest of the time ruminating upon the fallout. The narrator’s beloved, he says, proved to be as fickle as a weather vane batted by the wind. His tears freeze and scald, and his numbness hides a roiling grief, like a river seething below a surface of ice.The piano part has the capacity to amplify or comment on the narrator’s mental state, and Uchida used it to console him like a wise, empathetic friend. She eased into key changes with subtle decelerations. The octaves of “Der Lindenbaum” (“The Linden Tree”) were transparent, rather than towering, and the rustling of branches had a dusky quality as though seen through the mollifying haze of a dream. In “Wasserflut” (“Flood”), she handled chromatic semitones with utmost delicacy to minimize the impact of their dissonant pangs. Her performance came to a peak in “Das Wirtshaus” (“The Inn”), where a slow, firm sequence of full-fingered chords provided ineffable comfort.The narrator’s beloved dominates the first half, but in a curious twist, she largely vanishes in the second, as his despair consumes him and convinces him that he’s destined for life as a social pariah.Uchida achieved arresting coherence across the entire cycle, but Padmore dug more specifically into that point of divergence. His acidulous tone, an awkward fit for the cycle’s early expressions of young heartbreak, illuminated the existential anguish of a soul who has decided he’s better off lost. Rather than struggle with that anguish, Padmore’s narrator embraced it with a sense of finality beyond his years.Padmore muscled his way through the cycle’s first 12 songs, summoning a pointed resonance but no real sense of line in Schubert’s gracious melodies. The milky softness of his tone in early recordings has curdled, and his technique, which used to cultivate mellifluousness with frequent use of a precise and floaty mixed voice, now produces a hard and unwieldy sound that veers out of tune.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Review: Igor Levit Wields Orchestral Power With Just a Piano

    For his latest Carnegie Hall appearance, Levit played solo piano transcriptions of symphonic works by Mahler and Beethoven.Igor Levit, a pianist of awe-inspiring insight and redoubtable technique, decided to conduct himself during his solo recital at Carnegie Hall on Thursday.He was playing the Nocturne from Hindemith’s “Suite 1922,” a collection of five genre pieces like marches and rags, and there are a few moments in which the pianist only needs to use one hand. Gesturing with his left one in a downward pressing motion, he seemed to tell himself, “Gentle, gentle,” as he plucked starlight off the page and dispersed it through the air.When Levit is onstage, he seems to be in his own world. He scratches his nose, nods approvingly as a piece closes and shakes out the strain in his hands from a particularly grueling program. He doesn’t make a show of inviting the audience along; rather, he leaves the door cracked open for anyone who wants to join.Such physical quirks are of a piece with the prodigious concentration and individuality of Levit’s performances. He makes music his own and illuminates it for others. His confidence and decisiveness allow a listener to hear a piece’s architecture, the way individual figures become phrases and then entire sections.At Carnegie, Levit tested his focus and stamina with piano transcriptions of well-known symphonic works. The program opened with the relatively brief Hindemith suite before diving headlong into Ronald Stevenson’s adaptation of the Adagio from Mahler’s 10th Symphony and a nearly hourlong rendition of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, in a solo version by Liszt.It was a display of earth-rattling strength. Octaves in contrary motion smoked with ferocity in the Hindemith, and sforzandos in the Beethoven reintroduced audiences to the elemental wildness of a composer of repertory standards. Levit’s New York appearances last season, in music by Shostakovich and Morton Feldman, deployed his concentration in service of witty élan and meditative stillness. But Thursday’s recital was pure might.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Vienna Philharmonic and Franz Welser-Möst Return to Carnegie

    Franz Welser-Möst, who stands at the top of this storied orchestra’s roster of conductors, led three meaty programs at Carnegie Hall over the weekend.The Vienna Philharmonic hasn’t had a chief conductor since 1933. But it has had favorite conductors.Of the great musicians who have led this self-governing, proudly idiosyncratic orchestra, Leonard Bernstein and Pierre Boulez were made honorary members; Herbert von Karajan and Karl Böhm were given honorary conducting titles. The violinist Daniel Froschauer, the Philharmonic’s chairman, has said that today, the ensemble not so secretly has two maestros at the top of its roster: Riccardo Muti and Franz Welser-Möst.At Carnegie Hall last weekend, it was the Austrian-born Welser-Möst, 63, who conducted three breathless, exhilarating and often moving performances by the Philharmonic, in meaty programs of Bruckner and Mahler symphonies, and works by Berg, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Strauss and Ravel.It takes a lot to win over the affection of the Philharmonic, one of Europe’s finest ensembles, just as it takes a lot to join its ranks. These players — known for their lush sound, their brighter, higher tuning frequency and their distinctly Viennese articulation — can be haughty and stubborn; I have seen them outright defy a conductor in rehearsal.Welser-Möst has not only penetrated the Philharmonic’s inner circle, but also has done so while leading the Cleveland Orchestra — another top-notch ensemble, though one whose sound differs enormously from that of the Viennese.The main difference between the Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic is that while the Clevelanders have been criticized for giving performances that are too good, no one could ever accuse the Viennese of the same.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Review: Yunchan Lim Plays Chopin at Carnegie Hall

    For his Carnegie debut, the fast-rising Yunchan Lim gave a confident and dazzling performance of Chopin’s 27 fiendishly difficult études.It was that rare occasion on Wednesday: There was an encore at Carnegie Hall.I mean a literal, French-for-“again” encore, when a musician, brought back at the end of a concert by applause and more applause, gives another rendition of a piece he has already played.Bowing modestly after making his Carnegie debut with a confident, supple, eventually dazzling performance of Chopin’s 27 études, the teenage pianist Yunchan Lim had given three eloquent encores of other Chopin works. But the ovation continued. So he returned to the stage and started the gentle undulations of the A-flat major étude he had played some 40 minutes earlier — now with even more flowing naturalness.Lim was courting comparison with himself after a concert spent courting comparison with the canon. Chopin’s complete études are only an hour of music, but that hour is one of the most difficult and storied in the piano repertoire, a daunting yet irresistible gantlet for musicians who model themselves after the old school.Even precociously old school. At 19, the same age as Chopin when the earliest of these pieces was written, Lim has already shown boldness in taking on standards. When, in June 2022, he became the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition’s youngest winner, his victory was secured with a wholly unafraid version of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto. The Cliburn and Steinway have since released a live recording of his electrifying semifinal round, playing Liszt’s “Transcendental Études.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Jaap van Zweden Bids Farewell, and Other Classical Highlights

    The Philharmonic’s maestro ends his tenure, Igor Levit comes to Carnegie Hall, and the Metropolitan Opera takes a chance on reviving two recent hits.The New York Philharmonic’s spring gala is not usually of much musical interest. It tends toward mild fare — just enough to keep the donors happy before dinner and dancing.But this year, the playing will draw closer attention. The gala, on April 24, features the only appearance this season by Gustavo Dudamel, the Philharmonic’s next music director. He will take part in the celebration of the orchestra’s education programs, including its signature Young People’s Concerts, which are turning 100.The Philharmonic has been careful not to have its Dudamel-led future step too much on its less starry present. This season also brings the final months of Jaap van Zweden’s brief tenure as music director, which will begin on his favored ground: the classics.A mid-March program of Mozart’s elegant Piano Concerto No. 17 (with Conrad Tao as soloist) and Beethoven’s deathless Fifth Symphony is such a sure audience pleaser that the Philharmonic is confidently giving it four performances, rather than the usual three.Van Zweden led the orchestra in Beethoven’s Fifth in October 2015, a few months before he got the music director job. I wrote then that “conducting this imaginative and playing this varied don’t appear at Geffen Hall every week.” His meticulousness didn’t come off as mannered, as it sometimes does. The inner two movements felt especially inventive, and I’ll be listening for whether the whole thing has the polish and momentum that have tended to elude the orchestra recently.A few days later, van Zweden will turn his attention to the new, as the Philharmonic plays fresh pieces by Tan Dun — a concerto for the principal trombonist, Joseph Alessi, called “Three Muses in Video Game” — and Joel Thompson.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More