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Baritone cancels 2 dates

Matthias Goerne has been with the Phila. Orchestra's U.S. tour.    

Baritone Matthias Goerne has canceled two performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra on its U.S. tour.

Goerne pulled out because of a family illness, and will not perform with the orchestra Saturday in Davis, Calif., or Wednesday in Costa Mesa. "We are hopeful in planning that he will be back for the remaining two performances" in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., an orchestra spokeswoman said.

Goerne's cancellation echoes his withdrawal a year ago when he failed to appear with the orchestra on its European tour.

Instead of Schubert songs with Goerne, the orchestra will repeat a piece it has already performed in other cities, the Mozart Sinfonia concertante, K. 297b, for winds and orchestra.

The Mozart marked the beginning of the orchestra's tour Tuesday night in Kansas City, where the Star praised the soloists and the "stylishness" of music director Christoph Eschenbach.

Critic Paul Horsley swooned over the "stupendous" string sound in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, to which "it seemed Eschenbach had brought a new clarity and sparkle."

Majestic and confident was this Fifth, he wrote.

Still, he continued: "I only wished there had been more going on interpretively from moment to moment, more stamp of personality on each phrase and passage. One sometimes had the feeling that we were just marching along, waiting for the end to come."

If Horsley's name sounds familiar, it's because for eight years he worked for the Philadelphia Orchestra. His recycled program notes still sometimes appear in the orchestra's playbill. (In his review, the critic comes clean about his past relationship with the orchestra.)

In the meantime, the orchestra has already tangled with the music critic at the Orange County Register, whose chat with Eschenbach was nixed.

"The interview was all but arranged," wrote Tim Mangan on his blog. "We were homing in on a time that we would meet by phone. It looked like Saturday afternoon was going to be it. But then a Philly Orchestra publicist got involved. I was told by people on this end who had talked to people on that end that they [that end] didn't want me to focus my article on Eschenbach's departure, that Eschenbach didn't really want to talk about it, and that he'd rather talk about the tour and fun stuff like that."

Not surprisingly, Mangan and his editor would not agree to preconditions to an article.

"We can't ignore the elephant in the room, and it's not our job to give the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eschenbach free publicity," he wrote.

Soon after, Mangan received an e-mail informing him that the interview was off.

The orchestra's publicist, Katherine Blodgett, said: "It was Christoph's decision not to do the interview, not mine."