Salty, affable, sexy
Defiance, intelligence, and intimacy with a twist of endearing naiveté make Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs absolutely seductive. His modulation with that lovely, earthy Scottish rolling “r”s while exercising the balance to keep from going over the top as he introduced number after number were equally fascinating. He demonstrates deft control in the selection of the material he has been performing for a couple of years. Best known to many as the Emcee in Cabaret and Ely Gold in CBS’ The Good Wife, he opened Sappy Songs at the Arsht’s Knight Concert Hall with Annie Lennox’s Why, followed by Miley Cyrus’ chart-topping The Climb; he dedicated Billy Joel’s Goodnight Miss Saigon to his maternal grandfather Tommy Darling, who died in World War II and “to all victims of PTSA: It’s going to be a fun night ladies and gentlemen!”. To liven things up he narrated the story of a condom commercial together with its jingle. Scotland came into full light in Mother Glasgow, a lovely ballad seeping nostalgia. His complicated relationship with his dad, Alex Cumming, is the subject of his memoir Not My Father’s Son and here he sang Rufus Wainwright’s Dinner at Eight “the schism” telling song that almost brought him to tears. A Liza Minnelli anecdote brought a too-early end to the 75-minute cabaret-format show that left one wanting for more than the encore de rigueur: Ladies Who Lunch. Come back soon Alan Cumming, as an actor but mostly as this uniquely gifted individual with the gift of a sexy raconteur.
The Bamberg debut performance at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts reminded the audience why it has been one of Europe’s most respected touring orchestras for the last 75 years. Form the Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 and the pièce the résistance of the evening: Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26 the orchestra was the perfect instrument to Christoph Eschenbach mesmerizing and expansive directorial arch.
Ray Chen displayed flawless virtuoso fireworks especially in the third movement: the Allegro energico as well as the encore when he played Paganini’s Capriccio No. 21, an ideal vehicle for his absolute control of the flying staccato passages.
Nonetheless, the night belonged to Eschenbach, his fresh reading of Beethoven’s Eroica made it sound like a recently discovered piece. The receptive audience responded appreciatively and it was rewarded with an encore, not usual from an orchestra. They played Beethoven’s lovely Overture to The Creatures to Prometheus with equal sense of adventure and discovery. It was an exhilarating event that left one wishing that both Eschenbach and the Bamberg come back regularly to the Arsht.
A night of controlled improv
On February 24th, the Jazz Roots program features Piano Titans: Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Solos and Duets two renowned jazz keyboard giants, both Grammy winners. Corea recently celebrated his 75th birthday with an 8-week stint at the Blue Note. Rubalcaba a jazz piano master who continues to bridge the musical traditions of his native Cuban with that of North American jazz. Whether playing together or doing solos, jazz lovers will be treated to a scintillating event.
Ardent keyboard performance
For those who attend the Lang Lang in recital at the Knight Concert Hall on the night of the 25th the 34-year old larger-than-life Chinese musician will play Claude Debussy’s Ballade Slave followed by Franz Liszt’s musically demanding and intensely emotional Piano Sonata in B Minor, op 178. The program also includes a selection of Spanish composers: Suite Española by Isaac Albéniz, Danza Ritual del Fuego by Manuel de Falla, and Goyescas Op. 11 by Enrique Granados.