Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Gets Personal in Central Park

The trees started rustling ominously, and the sky darkened as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performed the first movement Presto of Haydn’s Symphony No. 1, a sense of urgency reflected in its bristling rendition at the Naumburg Bandshell on Tuesday evening…The event was part of the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts series, which has offered free concerts to New Yorkers in Central Park since 1905.

—VIVIEN SCHWEITZER, The New York Times
July 22, 2015
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Boston Symphony Chamber Players Balance Acoustics and Expression

There was a great deal of grace — in Nielsen’s Quintet for Winds. It is one of the composer’s most frequently played works, and with good reason. The writing for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn is richly idiomatic, the neo-Classical style joyfully accessible without ever being pat — Stravinsky without the sarcasm. The Boston players turned in a performance that was balanced and expressive.

—CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM, The New York Times
July 14, 2015
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Waiting Out Rain for Haydn, Schoenfield and Weber

Pleasant weather marked the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s concert at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park on Tuesday. Pleasant weather for the fish in the nearby lake, that is. Haydn was a famous exponent of “Sturm und Drang,” but the torrential rain that began as the society’s players prepared to emerge for one of his piano trios seemed a joke too far.

— DAVID ALLEN, The New York Times
August 13, 2014
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Christina and Michelle Naughton, Twin Pianists, Perform at Naumburg Orchestral Concert

When the pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton perform together, they never look at each other, but they move in tandem, mirroring each other’s every gesture.

“It’s really bizarre,” said Cristian Mãcelaru, associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. “When you see a quartet that has been playing together for 25 or 30 years, it’s a similar thing.”

“This sounds freaky, but there are times I forget we’re two people playing together,” Christina said.

— Corinne Ramey, The Wall Street Journal
August 4, 2014
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Commission for Dead Composer, and Other Pieces

Toward the end of Tuesday evening’s concert by the Knights at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, the WQXR radio host Annie Bergen asked the violinist Colin Jacobsen a question about the last item on the program. Why did he think Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” concerto was a good fit for them?

“Well, he wrote it for us,” Mr. Jacobsen, one of the ensemble’s artistic directors, answered deadpan.

Stravinsky’s concerto grosso turned 75 last year. The Knights’ average age appears to be half that. Yet on Tuesday they brought the same sense of ownership to “Dumbarton Oaks” and works by Ligeti and Bartok as they did to the two contemporary pieces on the program, by the singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens and the violist-composer Ljova…………

The Knights (who played without a conductor all evening) struck a fine balance between rhythmic precision and spontaneous-sounding phrasing.

— CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM, The New York Times
July 23, 2014
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Lending Mozart a Left Hand

In a time that has brought us renovations and revisions of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” among other overhauls, do we really need a recomposition of Mozart’s “Coronation” Concerto?

Yes, it turns out.

As played by the Knights, an excellent chamber orchestra, on Tuesday at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, the composer and pianist Timo Andres’s take on the “Coronation” ….his cadenzas were masterly — the one at the end of the third movement receded to daring delicacy and expansiveness — and the slow central movement ached with nostalgia for a softer past while embracing the angularity of the present.

That dual loyalty was also in Ives’s “Three Places in New England,” which closed the Knights’ ingenious program, the first event in this year’s series of free Naumburg Orchestral Concerts.

— Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times
June 25, 2014
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Central Park’s Marred Band Shell Gets a Golden Pick-Me-Up

The gift has fallen apart over the years…Parts of the inscription, marking the donor’s intent, have broken away.

Neglect has been at the center of a long-running dispute among preservationists, descendants of the Naumburg family and the City of New York over the future of the band shell, the park’s only neo-Classical structure.

But… the dedication was painstakingly restored…Jane Henry, a gilder, primed and sealed the incised letters… It was a rededication of sorts, some nine decades later: “Presented to the City of New York and Its Music Lovers by Elkan Naumburg.”

“He loved music,” Mr. London said. “He thought it was a good thing for people to have something to relax them, and enjoy life with.” The band shell, at the northern end of the Mall, just below 72nd Street, has been the site of free concerts for generations of New Yorkers. This season the Naumburg organization will be hosting five, closing with one by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

He hopes the regilding represents a fresh start.

“It’s kind of a visual appetizer, to see how the building might look if it was repaired,” Mr. London said. “It’s a worthy building.”

— Kia Gregory, The New York Times
June 24, 2014
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