Copland: Appalachian Spring (HDCD review)

Also, El Salon Mexico; Dance from "Music for the Theatre"; Danzon Cubano. Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic. HDTT HDCD361.

Leonard Bernstein was a huge fan of American composer Aaron Copland's (1900-1990) music and played more of the man's material in his programs than he did any other living composer. Needless to say, Bernstein's interpretations of Copland's scores are among the most authoritative of any, and for my money there are only two other conductors who stand alongside Bernstein when it comes to performing Copland: Michael Tilson Thomas and Copland himself, whose own recordings (Sony) are still probably my favorite. Nevertheless, the HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers) remastering we have here of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic from 1962 is among the conductor's very best Copland work.

The first item on the program is probably Copland's most endearing and enduring work, the ballet Appalachian Spring. He premiered it for a small chamber orchestra in 1944 and won a Pulitzer Prize for it the next year. Then, in 1945 he arranged the ballet score into the familiar orchestral suite we get here. The storyline for the ballet involves a group of nineteenth-century American pioneers celebrating the building of a new farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Some of the main characters include a bride, a groom, a revivalist and his followers, and a pioneer woman.

Bernstein makes the music come alive like almost no other conductor, capturing all of its beauty and passions. Maybe this is because the score itself, with its famous variations on the Shaker tune "Simple Gifts," has become such an important piece of Americana, and Bernstein himself is an American institution: They go naturally together. Perhaps Copland's conducting brought a touch more subtlety to the score in his London Symphony recording, but there's no denying the infectious qualities of Bernstein's enthusiasm. There's atmosphere here aplenty, a pulsating excitement, and a quiet dignity, all performed by an orchestra who seemed to have been born to the music. Lovely.

The next selection on the album is El Salon Mexico, which Copland completed in 1936. It's a tone poem in which the composer uses a number of Mexican tunes to simulate the atmosphere of a dance hall in Mexico City. Again Bernstein nails the excitement and color of the music, the nightclub and its denizens. Bernstein finds the raucous good fun in it, imbuing the music with a forward driving rhythm that highlights the vigor of the piece, yet with a hushed presence, too, that helps quantify its sweeter, darker corners. This is fun music, with Bernstein bringing out all its joys (and maybe a few of its sorrows; the conductor could sometimes wear his heart on his sleeve, although he never became maudlin).

Lastly, we get two brief numbers, Dance, from Copland's five-movement Music for the Theatre (1925) and Danzon Cubano (1942). These final selections fit in nicely with the other dance music on the program, and Bernstein has such a fine feeling for the idiom that you can't imagine anyone playing the music better.

Drawbacks? Not really. We get great music; we get classic performances; we get the best remastered sound these recordings have ever enjoyed; and we get a variety of formats and reasonable prices from the folks at HDTT. My only concern with the product is minor, and it's about the packaging. There are no track listings, no track times, not even an accurate account of the order of things on the album. For example, HDTT tried to duplicate Columbia's original LP cover art, but the cover art does not list the contents of the album in the correct sequence on the disc. The front and back covers list El Salon Mexico first when, in fact, Appalachian Spring comes first. For the record, so to speak, the HDTT disc contains 1. Appalachian Spring (24:55); 2. El Salon Mexico (11:03); 3. Dance from Music for the Theatre (3:19); and 4. Danzon Cubano (6.59).

Columbia Records made the album and released it on LP and tape in 1962; HDTT remastered it in 2014, and it sounds better than I've ever heard it. I confess I did not have the original recording on hand to make comparisons, but the people at Sony have put bits and pieces of Bernstein's Copland into various collections, some of which I did have available. To my ears, the HDTT remastering is clearer, cleaner, more transparent, more dynamic, more everything. In places it sounds a trifle bright or forward, true, but the highs appear nicely extended, with commendable sparkle, and the bass whacks have splendid impact. There is also more air around the instruments, more orchestral depth, and more hall resonance than I expected, with most often a full, round, smooth, lucid, and lifelike effect. The fact is, throughout the LP era I pretty much avoided Columbia products because so many of them sounded bad to me. This HDTT remastering shows how good the recordings can sound when somebody bothers to transfer them properly to disc.

For further information on the various formats, configurations, and prices of HDTT products, you can visit their Web site at http://www.highdeftapetransfers.com.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:

D'Albert: Cinderella Suite (CD review)

Also, The Little Mermaid; Overtures. Viktorija Kaminskaite, soprano; Jun Markl, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 5.573110.

What would we do without Naxos? Certainly, we would not get to hear as many neglected eighteenth and nineteenth-century composers as the label affords us. In this case it's Eugen Francois Charles d'Albert (1864 - 1932), a Scottish-born German composer and pianist who got his early education in Scotland before moving to London in his later youth. Then, showing musical talent, d'Albert won a scholarship to study in Austria, where he stayed for a while before moving to Germany, there studying with Franz Liszt and starting a career as a concert pianist.

Apparently, he was all the rage as a virtuoso pianist, but he also produced a prodigious number of musical compositions including twenty-one operas and numerous orchestral and chamber works. On the present album, conductor Jun Markl and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra provide a variety of the man's overtures, preludes, and suites. While I can't say I fell in love with any of them--and it's probably no accident that much of the fellow's music fell into neglect--I didn't dislike any of the material, either, most of it varied and tuneful enough to maintain my interest.

Maestro Markl begins the program with three brief overtures and two preludes. All of them appear to fall squarely in the Romantic idiom, and none of them seem to me particularly memorable. As this is only the second such d'Albert collection from Markl, one assumes the conductor chose some of the best of d'Albert's music to record. If that's the case, maybe the rest of it deserves neglect. Anyway, the first selections are the Overture to Grillparzer's Esther, the Prelude to Die toten Augen ("The Dead Eyes"), the Prelude to Act II of Gernot, the Overture to Der Rubin ("The Ruby"), and the Overture to Die Abreise ("The Departure").

The music of the opening pieces offers just about every turn of phrase you can think of, most of it loud and not a little bombastic. Well, that's the nature of most overtures, in any case; composers mean for them to get and hold our attention as the curtain rises on a production. It's just that here it's the "get" that works, not really the "hold." Despite Markl's best efforts and the splendid work of the MDR Leipzig RSO, the music doesn't really reveal anything new, innovative, special, or unusual I could latch onto. The best I can say for it is that it's totally innocuous, so you won't feel as though you wasted your time on it. And, to be fair, "The Dead Eyes" Prelude has an appealing air of quiet mystery about it.

Then we come to the two centerpieces of the album: the Aschenputtel Suite ("Cinderella Suite") and Das Seejungfraulein ("The Little Mermaid") for soprano and orchestra. These were much more to my liking. Cinderella tells the familiar Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the suite having five movements that take us through the plot. Here, I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of each descriptive little tone poem, with Markl and his players well capturing the atmosphere, romance, and gentle adventure of the narrative. Well, OK, maybe Markl could have supplied a little more pomp and punch in the final wedding dance, but it's a minor issue.

D'Albert wrote "The Little Mermaid" (based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson) in 1897 for his wife at the time to sing (he married quite a few times). Here it's sung by Lithuanian soprano Viktorija Kaminskaite, whose voice justifies continued listening. It's quite lovely.

Although, as I say, I didn't find all the material on the album worth hearing more than once, there is no denying that you get enough of it. The disc contains over seventy-five minutes of music, close to the limit of a CD. For a relatively inexpensive product, you're at least getting your money's worth in playing time.

Tim Handley produced, engineered, and edited the music, which he recorded in 2011 at the MDR Studio Augustusplatz, Leipzig, Germany. The sound is fairly typical of Naxos's better work of late. It's big, bold, warm, and round, with a smooth, natural bloom from the hall. It's never forward, bright, hard, or edgy, nor is it especially transparent or ultra-clear. The sonics are rather modest, actually, providing a decent depth of field, with somewhat limited impact, dynamics, and frequency extremes. It's the kind of sound that will neither excite nor offend the audiophile but makes for easy, relaxed listening.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:


Classical Music News of the Week, August 31, 2014

Composer Mohammed Fairouz's 2014-15 Season to Include DG Debut, Seven Premieres

Composer Mohammed Fairouz's 2014-2015 season brings seven world premieres, notable performances of the young composer's works in the U.S. and around the world. Fairouz's Deutsche Grammophon debut album with Ensemble LPR, Evan Rogister and Kate Lindsey to be released January 27, 2015.

For 28-year-old Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz, the 2014-15 season is filled with performances of his chamber, vocal and orchestral works by some of the country's leading artists including seven world premieres and his debut album on the Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Classics label.

On January 27, 2015, Deutsche Grammophon will release a new album of works by Mohammed Fairouz, marking the composer's debut on the Yellow Label, and the first in Universal Music Classics' "Return to Language" series. Produced by David Frost, the album includes the elegiac song cycle Audenesque sung by Kate Lindsey, and the ballet Sadat. Both works feature the Ensemble LPR conducted by Evan Rogister.

Highlights of the Fairouz's season include seven world-premiere performances of repertoire ranging from chamber music, to songs – for voice and flute, voice and wind quintet, and chorus – to a full-scale opera-oratorio for large chorus, soloists and orchestra.

Locales is Fairouz's tribute to the cosmopolitanism embodied in the world's great cities is written for oboe and string trio and will be presented by oboist Ian Shafer at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall in November 2014.

Kaplansbündlertanz, for pianist David Kaplan, will be performed in late November in a program entitled "The Schumann Project: New Dances of the League of David" to be presented by the Metropolis Ensemble at the Irish Historical Society.

Deep Rivers, for baritone and wind quintet, will be presented by Clefworks in Montgomery, Alabama in March, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Freedom Marches and the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

The Second Coming, a setting of the apocalyptic poem by W.B. Yeats, will be premiered by the Young New Yorker's Chorus under the direction of Michael Kerschner on March 10th at New York's Merkin Hall.

Mohammed Fairouz's dramatic oratorio Zabur will receive its world premiere by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in April of 2015.

A new song cycle on Wallace Stevens's poetry exploring his complex relationship to Florida and the natural world will premiere on May 7 at New York's SubCulture. The performance will feature flutist Claire Chase and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Fairouz's ballet Sadat – snapshots from the extraordinary life of the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat – will be premiered by the Mimesis Ensemble at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall on May 27 following the work's recorded premiere on Fairouz's Universal Music Classics/Deutsche Grammophon debut album out in January.

Additional highlights of the 2014-15 season will include performances by Rachel Barton Pine, Del Sol Quartet and Kathleen Supové, a tour of his Kol Nidrei by cellist Maya Beiser, performances of the opera Sumeida's Song by the Pittsburgh Opera and his Violin Concerto by Chloë Hanslip and the Reno Philharmonic. A complete list of performance dates and details is below and at http://mohammedfairouz.com/calendar/.

--Rebecca Davis, Universal Music

American Boychoir School Elevates Assistant Music Director Dr. Kerry Heimann to President
The American Boychoir, one the world's preeminent musical ensembles, announced today that Dr. Kerry Heimann, Assistant Music Director and Accompanist, has been promoted to President of the American Boychoir School. In this capacity, Heimann will lead all facets of the school including setting the strategic vision, overseeing the day-to-day operations, engaging donors and alumni, and serving as the school's public face.

"I'm extremely honored to take on this new leadership position within the American Boychoir School," said Heimann. "This school and its students hold a place near and dear to my heart. Having participated in the choir's growth over the past ten years, I look forward to the exciting prospects of a new era as we continue to thrive as one of the world's premiere boy choirs and as a rigorous academic institution that shapes a new generation of young men."

An accomplished organist, accompanist, instrumentalist, choir director, guest artist and educator, Heimann has worn numerous hats during his tenure with the choir.  He has coordinated an extensive yearly international touring and recording schedule; assisted in designing the choir's PR and strategic marketing campaigns; contributed to growth and development campaigns and initiatives; trained new music department staff, and played an integral role in coordinating multifaceted communications and planning among students, parents, staff, presenters and the public.

For more information on American Boychoir, visit http://www.americanboychoir.org/index.php

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century Chamber Orchestra Open Their 2014-15 Season September 11-14 in Four Bay Area Concerts with Featured Composer and Clarinetist Derek Bermel
Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra open their seventh season together September 11-14, when acclaimed Featured Composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel joins them for four Bay Area concerts. The orchestra will perform three of Bermel's compositions, showcasing the Brooklyn composer's eclectic and globally-inspired musical language: A Short History of the Universe for String Quartet and Clarinet (inspired by his study of gravitational physics and string theory), Oct Up for two string quartets and percussion, and Silvioudades, with Salerno-Sonnenberg and Bermel as featured soloists on the work from his most recent CD, Canzonas Americanas, recorded with Alarm Will Sound.

The September concert program, which New Century will perform in Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Rafael, also includes performances of Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, the Russian composer's strings-and-percussion orchestration drawn from Bizet's Carmen. A signature work in the orchestra's repertoire, the piece drew rave reviews and standing ovations in 2011, with Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle praising New Century for a "superb performance, marked by rhythmic vivacity and emotional brilliance." Arvo Pärt's otherworldly and immensely popular Fratres completes the program. Existing in a variety of different instrumental incarnations, Fratres will be performed in its most recognized version for solo violin and string orchestra.

Concerts take place Thursday, September 11 at 8 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA; Friday, September 12 at 8 pm at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto; Saturday, September 13 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 8 pm, and Sunday, September 14 at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael at 5 pm.

New Century's collaboration with Derek Bermel is the most recent in the orchestra's ongoing "Featured Composer Program." Each season, New Century works with a different composer, who creates at least one new work for the orchestra with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as concertmaster, soloist and muse. New Century also performs at least one existing piece by the Featured Composer, both to offer a wider range of his or her work, and to help ensure the longevity of worthy compositions. Established under Salerno-Sonnenberg's leadership in 2008, the program has produced new works from some of the most significant American composers in contemporary music, including Clarice Assad, Lera Auerbach, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, Mark O'Connor, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and now Bermel, who has just been appointed director of the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

A West Coast premiere by Derek Bermel in May closes New Century's 2014-15 season. Bermel's newest work has been co-commissioned in collaboration with a national consortium of orchestras, including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra of Houston, and A Far Cry of Boston. The consortium has been established as part of an effort to increase the national impact of the works commissioned by New Century, which they also do by touring and recording commissioned works. The orchestra's new CD, From A to Z: 21st Century Concertos, is a compilation of four of New Century's live world premiere performances of its newly commissioned works, with Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist in music by Assad, Bolcom, Daugherty and Zwilich. It was released earlier this year on the NSS Music label.

Subscriptions and tickets for individual concerts for New Century Chamber Orchestra's 2014-15 season are on sale now. Single tickets for the September 11-14 concerts are $29 to $61 and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com or (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35. Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office.

Three-concert subscriptions range from $78 to $165; four-concert subscriptions range from $104 to $220. Call (415) 392-4400 or visit www.ncco.org to purchase.

--Jean Shirk Media

As One at BAM, Sep. 4-7: Truth Will Out
American Opera Projects/Brooklyn Academy of Music
Music and Concept by Laura Kaminsky
Libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed
Music Direction by Steven Osgood
Stage Direction by Ken Cazan

"Bravo to AOP for supporting such controversial and ultimately important work." --Opera Today

In this world premiere chamber opera for two singers and string quartet, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. Featuring the Fry Street Quartet.

Sep 4 - Sep 7, 2014
Location: BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Run time: 90min
All tickets: $25

For more information, visit http://www.bam.org/asone?utm_source=Copy+of+As+One+on-sale+tix+3&utm_campaign=As+One+tix+3&utm_medium=email

--Matthew Gray, Amerian Opera Projects

Deutsche Grammophon Unveils Great "Discovery"
Deutsche Grammophon launches DG Discovery – the world's first classical label streaming App. The curated App offers subscribers instant and unlimited access to peerless performances and a rich supply of background information.

Deutsche Grammophon announces the launch of DG Discovery, the world's first classical music label streaming app. Regular listeners to classical music, as well as those looking to deepen their knowledge of the genre, will be able to enjoy an initial range of 450 albums, carefully selected to offer consumers an outstanding listening experience. DG Discovery features essential works by the 30 most popular composers, performed by 80 star artists from Deutsche Grammophon's peerless roster. It is set to transform access to the Yellow Label's rich catalogue of recordings via touch-screen devices.

Full and unlimited access to the service is available at a monthly fee of $3.99 in the U.S., or a twelve month discounted subscription fee of $35.99 ($2.99 per month). A free version of DG Discovery, complete with 30-second streamed samples of all tracks in the app's catalogue, allows users to sample before they subscribe.

Following a stunning sell-out performance at his Salzburg Festival "Mozart Matinee" on Saturday, the label's star tenor Rolando Villazón officially unveiled the new app on his own iPad. "DG Discovery is a fantastic new way for classical music lovers to enjoy this art form using all the advantages of modern technology," he notes. "It's also a space for the curious to encounter the great masters and current performers. It allows you to listen to incredible performances whenever and wherever you wish, which is a terrific advantage for today's music lovers. I'm sure that DG Discovery will become one of the main ways that we listen to treasures from the great Deutsche Grammophon catalogue."

DG Discovery's simple structure provides a rapid search function, browsable by composer or artist name, and a wealth of background information about both the artists and the music. Product pages allow music-lovers to access original album liner notes and share favorite tracks with others. They also provide access to a rich seam of information, complete with details of individual recording dates, venues and production teams. The app's Artist pages include links to artist websites and a vast resource of photos, videos and other audio-visual material.

The app will update with over 20 new albums each month, developing an ever-expanding catalogue and satisfying demand for imaginative and adventurous playlists. The home page will refresh with 12 new playlists every week, organized by artist, composer and timely themes, such as Christmas. Thanks to the app's user-friendly design, subscribers can create multiple personal playlists and, with the aid of a single-tap Facebook button, engaging in social media conversations about favorite works and their interpretations. A tap-and-buy button gives those wishing to buy downloads of favorite tracks and albums from the DG Discovery catalogue instant access to the iTunes store.

"DG Discovery marks an exciting step forward in taking the joys of classical music to as wide an audience as possible," comments Mark Wilkinson, President of Deutsche Grammophon. "The digital audience is our audience, and "Discovery" can do exactly that – take listeners on a journey, open doors, and enlighten and enrich their understanding of this great, timeless music."

To discover for yourselves, click here www.iTunes.com/dgdiscovery and here
www.deutschegrammophon.com/us/album/dg-discovery-app.html

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

Listen Magazine Releases Fall 2014 Issue
Mitsuko Uchida, Nonesuch at 50, John Luther Adam's Become Ocean, Return of the Catskills, Classical Music Movie Night

Fresh off a summer of musical explorations, Listen: Life with Classical Music reports back on some of its most salient discoveries: Did you know that Mitsuko Uchida thinks Schumann was a weirdo? Or that the Catskills are back in vogue for the avant-garde set? In Toronto and numerous other cities, classical music isn't piped into public spaces to enhance the ambience but to deter loitering, and the quintessential American symphonic sound can be accredited to a gay Jewish socialist. Speaking of populism, the bawdy world of classical music is the subject of an upcoming new Amazon series, complete with a character based on Gustavo Dudamel.

A multi-award-winning print quarterly hailed by Library Journal as one of the best new magazines of 2009, Listen Magazine is the American voice of classical music. Now in its sixth year of publication, Listen delivers exclusive interviews with the world's top musicians, feature articles, think pieces, festival coverage, insight into the masterworks and the unsung works of the classical canon, as well as recommendations on record, on screen, in print and online. No one covers the breadth and depth of classical music with greater elegance and zeal than Listen.

The magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores throughout the U.S. and Canada or by subscription.

For more information, visit ListenMusicMag.com

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

American Opera Projects Appoints Laura Kaminsky As Its Composer-in-Residence Beginning September 1, 2014
American Opera Projects Inc. (AOP) announces the appointment of Laura Kaminsky as its composer-in-residence commencing September 1, 2014, three days before her opera "As One" premieres at BAM in an AOP production (performances September 4, 6, and 7). In this role, Kaminsky will bring broad expertise to AOP enabling the Brooklyn-based company to expand its mission of identifying, developing, and presenting new and innovative works of music theater by emerging and established artists and to engage audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience.

For more information, visit www.operaprojects.org

--Matthew Gray, American Opera Projects

The Orion Ensemble Announces Musician Changes
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, announces that violist Jennifer Marlas, who has been on sabbatical due to health issues, will not be returning to the Ensemble.

"I speak for the entire Ensemble in expressing our gratitude to have had the opportunity to play with Jennifer as a revered core artist for many years," said Orion's clarinetist and executive director Kathryne Pirtle. "We regret that, due to a long-term chronic illness, she will be unable to return. We have been fortunate to have violinist/violist Stephen Boe fill in for Jennifer the past several years, and he will continue to serve as principal guest violist this season and in the future."

"I treasure my years collaborating with such wonderful musicians," said Marlas. "I also value the strong friendships we have formed; they will last a lifetime."

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Bang on a Can's 2014-2015 Season Announced
Season highlights include
Sept. 17: Bang on a Can All-Stars at Sacrum Profanum Festival, Krakow, Poland
October 8-November 1: OneBeat, Bang on a Can's Found Sound Nation & U.S. Dept. of State Partner for Diplomacy through Music Program
Oct. 14: Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer at Brookfield Place Winter Garden presented by WNYC's New Sounds Live
Ongoing Partnership with The Jewish Museum in NYC presenting concerts in November, January, and May
Feb. 15: First-ever Bang on a Can Marathon in Seattle, WA
Feb. 23-March 22: Bang on a Can's Found Sound Nation produces inaugural Dosti Music Project
Feb. 26: Annual People's Commissioning Fund Concert at Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Hall in NYC
March 5: Smith Quartet Plays Bang on a Can at King's Place in London
March 6-7: Bang on a Can at New Music Dublin, curated by David Lang
March 22: Bang on a Can All-Stars and Meredith Monk at Carnegie Hall
June 5-7: Bang on a Can All-Stars at the Miami Light Project
June 2015: Bang on a Can Marathon at Brookfield Place Winter Garden
July: Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA
And much more!

Plus new Cantaloupe Music releases:
Asphalt Orchestra's take on The Pixies' Surfer Rosa (November 2014)
Bang on a Can All-Stars Field Recordings (Spring 2015)

For more information, visit www.bangonacan.org

--Christina Jensen PR

John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

I've been listening to classical music most of my life, starting with the classical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first classical recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor. Today, I'm retired from teaching and using a pair of VMPS RM40s. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (moviemet.com, formerly DVDTOWN) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.