That Decisive Moment: Exquisite Antonacci: The Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments on YouTube

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Anna Caterina Antonacci with the pianist Donald Sulzen at her Zankel Hall recital.CreditSarah Shatz

Our critics and reporters offer a glimpse of what’s moved and delighted them on YouTube. Read the rest of our classical music coverage here.


AT 2 MINUTES 54 SECONDS

Freshly Seductive

The Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci’s recital at Zankel Hall this week was full of surprises: rarities by Respighi, Nadia Boulanger and Poulenc, as well as some angular patter music by Britten than seemed to prefigure Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” decades before its premiere. For one of her encores, Ms. Antonacci sang the “Habanera” from “Carmen,” but this foray into the extremely familiar was as eye-opening as the rest of the program: Her voice rarely rose above a mezzo-piano, which lent a beguiling mystery to a performance that verged on cabaret. In this video from the Opéra Comique in Paris, Ms. Antonacci is louder, out of necessity, but is still seductively restrained in key moments, such as when she sings, with a tinge of horror: “If I love you, beware.” JOSHUA BARONE

“Ms. Antonacci, 56, has pursued corners of the repertory that rarely get done here”

“A Career That Moves in Mysterious Ways”


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Shellshocked Starkness

Anna Caterina Antonacci’s recital this week at Zankel Hall was a quietly shattering yet deeply satisfying evening, a study in aging, nostalgia and death pursued through ripe Respighi songs, autumnal Nadia Boulanger, changeable early Britten, wryly pained Poulenc. (And, as encores, exquisitely shaped Frescobaldi and that almost murmured “Habanera.”) No program notes, no speeches from the stage; she treated her audience like adults, sharing with them an intimacy charged with mystery. All was lucid yet subtle, the emotions true and never overplayed. One of my favorite Antonacci moments, of many, is similar: Her entrance as Cassandre in a justly celebrated 2003 staging of Berlioz’s “Les Troyens,” and a first line — “The Greeks have disappeared” — delivered with shellshocked starkness. ZACHARY WOOLFE


AT 26 MINUTES 5 SECONDS

Ping-Pong Percussion

Andy Akiho’s spirited concerto “Ricochet,” which had its American premiere this week with the New York Philharmonic, is written for violin, percussion and … Ping-Pong. At David Geffen Hall, the dramatic table-tennis passages unfolded on a platform behind the orchestra, a staging that lacked some of the drama of the concerto’s world premiere in Shanghai. There, as you can see in this video, balls were free to fall anywhere, which made the chaotic finale all more thrilling as tubs of Ping-Pong balls were dumped onto the table. The percussive sound of the balls lingers as they bounce and roll, falling onto the floor and into the audience. It’s like a fermata on the final chord of a symphony, put through the prism of Mr. Akiho’s imagination. JOSHUA BARONE

“Watch Ping-Pong Make Its New York Philharmonic Debut”


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Smashing Organ Clichés

I was sad to miss the performance this week of Christopher Rouse’s Organ Concerto, with Paul Jacobs as the soloist, to inaugurate the newly installed Noack pipe organ at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown. But I heard the concerto last spring, when the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed it with Mr. Jacobs playing Hurricane Mama, as Walt Disney Concert Hall’s stunning organ is known. The piece is three movements and roughly 20 minutes, though it has the feel of one long, rollicking finale, in which Mr. Rouse repeatedly subverts centuries-old clichés of the organ repertory. You can hear an example in this clip from the concerto’s 2016 premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The organ briefly stands alone with a calming drone reminiscent of ecclesiastical music — only to be smashed away by loud tone clusters in the orchestra. In St. Paul’s, moments like this must have been all the more exhilarating. JOSHUA BARONE

“An Organ — and Soon Another — Lands on Broadway”


AT 5 MINUTES 36 SECONDS

Pulling All the Stops

A big week for organ music in New York began even before Trinity Wall Street’s Organ Inauguration Festival celebrating the new St. Paul’s instrument, which began on Monday. On Sunday, the excellent Renée Anne Louprette performed a recital on the superb Mander pipe organ in the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on the Upper East Side, celebrating the 25th anniversary of its installation. She concluded an eclectic program with Maurice Duruflé’s Opus 5 Suite and its blockbuster Toccata. One virtuosic run follows another, perhaps best typified by finger-busting scurryings gathering speed along a single keyboard, soon countered by deft clambering on the pedals. Then it’s on to any number of other stunts. JAMES R. OESTREICH


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Mutual Confidence

This week, I asked the superstar trio of Yo-Yo Ma, Leonidas Kavakos and Emanuel Ax to choose a favorite page from the three piano trios written by Johannes Brahms, as they began an American tour with the pieces. One of the most striking things about spending time with them was to see just how much these three artists enjoy one another, how easy their camaraderie is — and then to understand how that mutual confidence translates into their playing, with the merest glance, or the flicker of a smile, keeping them as one. DAVID ALLEN

“A Lullaby, a Caress: Yo-Yo Ma, Ax and Kavakos on Brahms”


AT 4 MINUTES 4 SECONDS

Short-Lived Hope

The eminent veterans Christoph Pregardien, tenor, and Julius Drake, pianist, came together a week ago in the 92nd Street Y’s intimate Buttenwieser Hall to perform Schubert’s shattering song cycle “Winterreise,” the tale of a spurned young lover. Both artists brought deep insight to their roles, combining beautifully in sound and spirit, and creating no end of poignant moments. But I always find it hard to get past the first song, with its spoiler of sorts. The onset of gloom is dispelled for a moment — a minute, actually — with a shift to the major key that seems to bespeak a burst of optimism. But it can’t last, and the return to gloom, the entire cycle in microcosm, is inevitably crushing. Here Mr. Pregardien performs the song with Michael Gees in a 2013 release. JAMES R. OESTREICH


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Mezzos Ascendant

The bright acoustics of Gilder Lehrman Hall at the Morgan Library & Museum seemed to pose problems, especially for sopranos, at the 47th annual George London Foundation Awards Competition Finals last week. A strong field of mezzo-sopranos fared better. Among them, Samantha Gossard, 29, from Sidney, Ohio, gave a fine account of “Wie du warst,” Octavian’s Act I aria from Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier.” But the singer who most impressed me overall was the mezzo Rihab Chaieb, 30, from Montreal, who performed an aria from Tchaikovsky’s “Jeanne d’Arc” and took one of six $10,000 awards. Here she sings four numbers, starting with “Wie du warst,” at the 2014 Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition in Finland. JAMES R. OESTREICH

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