Sunday, February 21, 2010

Great Performers Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Feb. 19, 2010

The Avery Fisher Hall on Broadway and 65Th st is a wonderful place to open your ears to music. The acoustics are just perfect for classical music. This brisk windy night in February brought the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra to New York as part of Lincoln Center presents Great Performers. The Great Performers this night included masters like conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the lovely Viktoria Mullova on Violin. The music was started with Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, 0p. 77, written in 1878. This is the German composers only violin concerto and said to be "against the violin" and "unplayable." The difference in this piece from other violin concerto is the difficult part of the soloist on Violin. On stage Viktoria Mullova was amazing with her swift movement and straight back. You became entranced by the second measure. Then after intermission a smaller part of the orchestra came out to do a "new piece" from 1996. (Theo Verbey Conciso) This short fierce number reminded one of a soundtrack to a Thriller. After this the whole Orchestra came out on stage. The Cello and Bass section was quite large and had a sound that was dark and rich. Last on the Schedule was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123 from 1943. In this each section of the orchestra is used as a soloist would be, making this contrast to the conventional concerto. The build up and breakdown with the strings was breathtaking. The oboes, bassoons and clarinets seemed to be in a different wind section then the other horns. The use of drums and cymbals was key to the arrangement. The fifth and final movement was a intense clash of everything once apart thrown together. This was a great night full of what Lincoln Centers promised, "Great Performers."

Other events this week:
*Beethoven Cycles: Quartets VI
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 7:30 PM
This is the last of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center complete quartets of Ludwig von Beethoven. Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater
Look for more Beethoven on May 13, 2010 - Beethoven Cycles: Violin Sonatas
*Monday, February 22 2010, 8:00 PM.
Juilliard String Quartet. The foursome plays music by Mendelssohn, Davidovsky, and a Mozart quintet (with Robert Mann, viola). Alice Tully Hall at 1941 Broadway New York, NY 10023,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck at MSG

This weekend New York got to see two old school "Rock Gods" on one stage. First was Jeff Beck the English Rock-n-Roll cowboy. Beck has a Jazz style with heavy undertones. With a repertoire of mostly instrumental numbers he played with a orchestra behind him. He plays his Fender Stratocaster with out a pick and has the sound of a "talking Guitar." He was the man that took Eric Claptons place in the Yardbirds. Clapton once said of Beck "With Jeff, it’s all in his hands." Ending his set with the Beatles "A Day In a Life" was intense, much like when we saw him at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame Benefit Show. When he left the stage out came the grips to switch the orchestra set up to a band with two keyboards and a Oriental rug. Clapton came out strong with Blues covers on a acoustic guitar. He also had two beautiful soul singers that filled the air with such stunning harmonies. Not playing much of his solo stuff he did give us "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Cocaine." Then in the time it took to blink they where out there together. The give and take, push and pull, back and forth was almost enough to make you dizzy. Nice to see Clapton being pushed by playful Beck. They did an old favorite "Moon River," and then a slew of Blues jams. The crowed got to their feet for Sly and the Family Stone's "Higher." And last but not least was Clapton's signature song, Robert Johnson's "Crossroads." These men met at a crossroads when one left a band as the other was entering, but they still have a great esteem for each-other.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Must See in NYC - Chelsea Hotel

If your not from the city then you need a place to stay when on a visit to New York. There are lots of famous hotels on the Island but non as cool as the Chelsea. If you can't get a room then just head over and bask in the glory of "The last outpost of bohemia." This red-brick building on West 23rd Street was the first cultural preservation sight listed by New York City. Built in 1883 it was the city's tallest building with only twelve flights till 1899. Once the center of the theater district the Chelsea Hotel is in Midtown close to the Empire State Building, and minutes from Greenwich Village in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Lots of historical events took place in New York that involved this hotel, like when the Titanic sank some of the survivors stayed at the Chelsea. All this History is nice but the real skinny in not about the building or the neighborhood, its the guests. Hundreds of writers, artists and musicians made it their home though the years. If your are a writer or love authors then this is a real treat. So many thinkers and writers stayed in these rooms. House hold names like Arthur Miller, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, and Tennessee Williams. This is where Arthur C. Clarke wrote "2001: A Space Oddyssey." It was also a beat hang-out with writers and poets in every hallway. William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg all where guest. Their friend Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" during his stay at the Chelsea. Some of the hotels literary guests never got the chance to check out. Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning in 1953 after falling into a coma in his room. Then author of "The Lost Weekend", Charles R. Jackson committed suicide in his room at the Chelsea on September 21, 1968. Home to writers and artist alike, the Chelsea has Art filling every hallway and staircase. Creativity seem to seep out of the walls and into the minds of visual artists that stayed in the hotel. Both artists Harry Everett Smith and painter Alphaeus Philemon Cole lived and died there. Andy Warhol made "Chelsea girls" at the hotel. It was called a "three and a half hour cesspool of vulgarity and talentless confusion which is about as interesting as the inside of a toilet bowl" by Rex Reed. Lots of Warhols Factory stayed in the hotel like the lovely Edie Sedgwick. Warhol was not the only director to be connected to the Chelsea, the wacky Stanley Kubrick called it home for a time. If you think that's a lot of famous names check out the list of Musicians that lived within the hotels walls - Tom Waits, Virgil Thomson, Dee Dee Ramone, Sid Vicious, Patti Smith, Henri Chopin, Rufus Wainwright, Ryan Adams, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, it goes on and on. Janis Joplin had an fling with Leonard Cohen there. Cohen then went and wrote the song "Chelsea Hotel #2," about it. The Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, was staying in the hotel in October of 78' when he woke up and found his girlfriend Nancy Spungen stabbed to death. He had not been able to remember what happened that night and died himself soon after. It has been a long haul for this building in midtown. Lots of ups and downs, highs and lows made famous by the creative forces that mingled inside this red building with black iron railings. This is where you get the New York you imagined when listening to songs or reading the passages of the greats. So get a room and open the window on the New York night that inspired so many legends.

"The building sits on 23rd Street with the air of a great dame who finds herself in the midst of a party of her social inferiors but instead of complaining decides to join right in the fun."
The New York Times

Living with legend
The last outpost of bohemia

Friday, February 5, 2010

Street Books - Present at the Future Ira Flatow

Found- Ludlow and Stanton St. in the LES.
Picked up because - Ira Flatow is on NPR.
Ira Flatow is the heart of NPR's Science Friday. He has come out with a book to help us realize that we live in the future now. This book makes things like Cosmology and Nanotechnology look easy, well easy to explain anyway. He does us a favor by breaking down science principles in such a light hearted way. The first five chapters look inward to the mind. These are kind of a searching exercise for you brain. Then he moves out to space before coming home again to Global Warming. This look at the energy crises does not stop there. No Mr. Flatow dives deep into the types of energy we use and could be using in the future. One of the most eye opening chapters is about technology at its smallest, Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Before it all over he dabbles in the everyday science he likes to point out in a segment he calls "Beauty in the Details." In this book Ira Flatow shows us that the future is now so we are all "Present at the Future."