Ringer Needed. We're a little obsessed with the bell. Not the famous cracked one, the one that sends its low D through the city nearly every hour on the hour. But the 17-ton Founder's Bell atop the former PNB tower at Broad and Chestnut is once again still and quiet - and has been for months. "The controller that our amazing engineering department has been able to repair over the years has finally perished," says Dave McFarland, senior property manager for One South Broad Street. "The good news is our engineering team has found a replacement controller, which has been ordered, and we expect shortly to regain the sound of our ringing bell." McFarland says it will be a few weeks more until the friendly tolling overtakes what has been, for some of us, a jarring silence.
Schubert in the fray. French pianist David Fray is seldom heard in Philadelphia, but his well-chosen recordings tend to be major events for their combination of highly personal interpretations and distilled beauty. His new disc, Schubert Fantasie on the Erato label, feels particularly revisionist with deeply introspective performances of Piano Sonata in G major "Fantasie" and a four-hand duet, Fantasia in F minor, with Jacques Rouvier. The sound alone is among the richest achieved in recent recordings.
- David Patrick Stearns
Piffaro, straight from the manuscript. The Philadelphia Renaissance band has long explored instrumental versions of 15th-century polyphonic vocal music. But in its weekend trio of concerts titled "At the Court of Ferrara," the group has the challenge and luxury of reading directly off the manuscript in the original notation. Such practices aren't always possible, given the poor readability of old manuscripts. But when it can be done, the difference in the performance, though subtle, is undeniable. Repertoire from the Casanatense 2856 manuscript includes music by Johannes Ockeghem and Josquin des Prez. Tickets: $15-$40. Friday at Trinity Center for Urban Life, Saturday at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Sunday at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Greenville, Del. 215-235-8469 or www.piffaro.org. - D.P.S.