Rossini: Complete Overtures, Volume 4 (CD review)

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Il Turco in Italia, et al. Christian Benda, Prague Sinfonia Orchestra. Naxos 8.572735.

Maestro Christian Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra continue their march through the complete overtures of Italian composer Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792–1868) with this fourth and final installment of selections. As before, Benda gives us a couple of well-known pieces and fills out the rest of the program with lesser-known items. And, as always, he does them up splendidly.

Here's the thing, though: There is still Sir Neville Marriner's complete, three-disc set to consider on Philips; yes, a long-gone label but one still available new and used for a reasonable (sometimes absurdly low) price. And if it's only a single disc of the most-popular overtures one is interested in, there are excellent bargains from the likes of, again, Marriner (Philips, PentaTone, or EMI), the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (DG), Fritz Reiner (RCA), Piero Gamba (Decca or JVC), Peter Maag (HDTT), Riccardo Muti (EMI), Claudio Abbado (DG), Riccardo Chailly (Decca), Carlo Maria Giulini (EMI), Sir Roger Norrington (EMI), and others. Nevertheless, Benda's performances stand up to the best, and the Naxos sound and price are right.

In The Barber of Seville we get a typically robust, responsive reading from Maestro Benda. As it is a lively comic opera, the overture follows suit, with Benda providing a good dose of smart theatrics, yet without in any way exaggerating the music. While I still wouldn't say I liked his interpretation any better than those I mentioned above, when you consider that it comes with a full complement of more-obscure overtures, it might find a home with dedicated Rossini fans.

Likewise, The Turk in Italy is a comic affair, and Benda treats it so. If anything, he plays up the contrasts even more in this one than he did in The Barber, making it another delight, frolicsome and energetic.

And so it goes: eight selections, two of them familiar and six of them less so. For example, the Sinfonia in E flat Major dates from Rossini's student days, but he reused it several times over in other overtures. It's actually quite charming in its original version, and Benda appears to make the most of it.

The other items include Riccardo e Zoraide, Torvaldo e Dorliska, Armida, Le Comte Ory, and Bianca e Falliero. Of them, Armida pleased me the most with its steady march rhythms, which Benda emphasizes slowly and dramatically before the action starts later in the piece.

The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra, a smallish group in their performances here, judging by the booklet picture of them, sound both rich and crisp in their presentation. They seem an ideal ensemble for the likes of Rossini and his music.

Producer Katerina Chobotava and engineer Michael Rast recorded the music at Produckeni dum Vzlet and Kulturni Dum Barikadniku, Prague in 2011 and 2012. The sound is very clean, with little overhang or veiling, yet there is a small degree of hall resonance, too. The miking is fairly close, revealing a modest degree of inner detail and reproducing a healthy dynamic range and impact. Bass and treble extension are pretty good as well, making this another deserving sonic entry in Benda's Rossini series.

So, is Benda's Rossini complete set worth the price of four discs? I'd say yes, at least for the listener wanting more than the standard fare. Marriner's set fits on three discs but isn't quite as thorough as Benda's, which includes darn near every overture and introduction Rossini wrote. What's more, even though some other conductors may be more colorful, more dynamic, or more refined in the material, Benda provides thoughtful, unobjectionable performances. Then add in the sturdy, modern sound, and, yeah, I'd say it's a worthy set.

JJP

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


Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (CD review)

The Bad Plus. Sony Masterworks 88843 02405 2.

It's not uncommon anymore to hear Stravinsky's Rite of Spring played on any number of solo instruments and combinations thereof. Among the best recent applications of the theory was the solo piano transcription by Jon Kimura Parker. With the current disc it's a jazz arrangement from the trio The Bad Plus (Reid Anderson, bass, electronics; Ethan Iverson, piano; David King, drums), an innovative jazz ensemble that's been entertaining audiences with their eccentric and eclectic brand of music for the better part of two decades. This time, they try their hand at the Rite with generally favorably results.

The Rite lends itself especially well to jazz interpretations. Russian-born American composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) wrote it for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, where the music immediately scandalized him and, in part, the country. To be fair, the ruckus it caused probably had as much to do with Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography as it did with the music. In any case, The Bad Plus's jazz rendering brings out many of the primitive strains in the piece as well as much of its hushed lyricism.

In the hands of The Bad Plus the music takes on a more surreal air than ever. Notes seem to shimmer and float eerily, especially during the opening "Introduction," and the percussion often gives one a hint of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. We're on slightly more-familiar ground with the second movement, "The Augurs of Spring," although here the piano work seems more fluid than an orchestra might sound. The electronic background effects lend a new and creative quality to the proceedings as well, making it all appear imaginatively different while still seeming quite familiar.

"Spring Rounds" exudes a kind of Bob James aura, if you're acquainted with his smooth jazz style, as well as a certain early Emerson, Lake and Palmer vibe. So, yes, you'll hear influences of other jazz, rock, and pop artists mixed into Stravinsky's score in The Bad Plus's performance. In other words, this is an album that might appeal to a broad spectrum of music listeners.

The fact that all three Bad Plus musicians know what they're doing and have a healthy respect for Stravinsky's material helps, too. Their arrangement doesn't cheapen the music but, if anything, helps further to illuminate it. Even the men's occasional inarticulate vocal expressions tend to heighten the musical experience. And did I mention it was downright fun?

Now, here is one thing, and it's not really a negative criticism: I didn't find the same degree of unrestrained savagery in the Second Part of the score ("The Sacrifice") that I have found in traditional orchestral interpretations from the likes of Bernstein, Solti, and Muti. Maybe there are just some things a full orchestra can do that three lone musicians can't; it's hard to discount the enormous force a big ensemble can produce. I dunno. Still, The Bad Plus offer their own unique contributions to the music, not the least of which is their effective creation of mood, mystery, and atmosphere. This is a Rite worth hearing.

The Bad Plus produced and arranged the album, and Pete Rende recorded it at Kaleidoscope sound Studios, June 2013. For their presentation, Ethan Iverson plays a Steinway D Piano, and David King uses Ellis drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Vic Firth sticks. The sonics are impressively dynamic, and for just three guys they sound like a much bigger group in a fairly enveloping acoustic field. The miking is somewhat close, so expect good detail, definition, transient response, and impact at the expense of some small lack of dimensionality and air.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, April 13, 2014

American Bach Soloists Presents "Bach's Legacy," April 25-28

The program offers motets and choral works by Bach and his followers.

"The chorus, it goes without saying, was spectacular.
Its finesse is a local legend by now."
--Michael Zweibach, SFCV

"The unashamed earnestness of their presentation was a powerful example of how persuasive and even seductive this music can be when under the care of great performers."
--Jonathan Rhodes Lee, SFCV  

Bach: Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir
Komm, Jesu, komm
Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf

Mendelssohn: Sechs Sprüche
Brahms: Fest und Gedenksprüche
Sandström: Komm, Jesu, komm
Nystedt: Immortal Bach

With the American Bach Choir, Jeffrey Thomas, conductor.

Belvedere, CA: St. Stephen's Church - Friday April 25 2014 8:00 pm
Berkeley, CA: First Congregational Church - Saturday April 26 2014 8:00 pm
San Francisco: St. Mark's Lutheran Church - Sunday April 27 2014 4:00 pm
Davis, CA: Davis Community Church - Monday April 28 2014 7:00 pm

Tickets and information at http://americanbach.org/seasons/13-14/Legacy.htm or americanbach.org or (415) 621-7900.

--American Bach Soloists

Music Institute Presents Organist Nathan J. Laube May 17, Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Its Skinner Organ
The Music Institute of Chicago celebrates the 100th anniversary of its E.M. Skinner organ by presenting acclaimed young organist Nathan J. Laube in concert Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL.

The program includes Bach's Cantata 29, "Wir danken dir," BWV 39, Dupré transcription; Mendelssohn's Variations Sérieuses, Op. 54, Laube transcription; Schumann's Studien für den Pedalflügel, Op. 56; Widor's Symphonie pour Grand Orgue, Op. 42, No. 5; Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G Minor, Op. 28, No. 5, Federlein transcription; Saint-Saëns's Fantaisie pour Orgue, Op. 101; Mozart's Adagio und Allegro in f-moll für ein Orgelwerk, KV 594; and Dupré's Prélude et Fugue en sol-mineur, Op. 7, No. 3.

A star among young classical musicians, Nathan J. Laube has quickly earned a place among the organ world's elite performers. His brilliant playing and gracious demeanor have thrilled audiences and presenters across the United States and in Europe, and his creative programming of repertoire spanning five centuries, including his own virtuoso transcriptions of orchestral works, have earned high praise from critics and peers alike. In addition to his busy performing schedule, Laube is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of young organists, and in the fall of 2013, he joined the faculty at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York as assistant professor of organ.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at brownpapertickets.com/event/477613 or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. For more information visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Young People's Chorus of New York City Presents "Transient Glory," a Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli
Friday, April 25, at 8 p.m.
92nd Street Y, New York City
It is an evening of premieres, settings, and adaptations by Missy Mazzoli especially for YPC, with guest artists Victoire and Soprano Mellissa Hughes.

"Transient Glory," the Young People's Chorus of New York City's groundbreaking, 21st-century commissioning series of choral music for young people, returns with a Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzolion Friday, April 25, at 8 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y. Conducted by YPC Artistic Director and Founder Francisco J. Núñez, the evening focuses on a musical world of Missy Mazzoli. It encompasses an entire evening of premieres of specially selected music from Missy's acclaimed collection of genre-bending works interpreted, set, and adapted for the first time for an ensemble of young voices and Victoire, Missy's all-female band. It also includes the world premiere of a new YPC "Transient Glory" commission, "New New York Songs."

For this "Transient Glory" composer spotlight, YPC brings back WNYC's John Schaefer to host, and in a new YPC collaboration, Mark DeChiazza will stage the concert to draw the audience into this exciting universe of sounds that burst with the vitality, diversity, and youthful optimism of New York City, a crossroads where artists gravitate and transform the course of music and life.

All tickets are $15 and are available at the 92nd Street box office (92nd Street and Lexington Avenue), by calling 212-415-5500, or online at www.92y.org.

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Pianist Mirian Conti Celebrates the Music of Argentina at DiMenna Center April 30, 2014 in a Free Performance
Looking beyond Argentina's most popular exports—Piazzolla and Ginastera— Conti reveals the lively voices of lesser-known composers.

On April 30, 2014 at 7pm at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street - Mary Flagler Cary Hall), Steinway & Sons pianist Mirian Conti will give a free recital (no tickets required) featuring music off her recent Steinway release Panorama Argentino. The program will also include pieces from Nostalgias Argentinas and Chopin: The Mazurkas, Conti's two other Steinway albums. The recital will be followed by a reception with Conti.

The DiMenna Center recital program will explore the music of lesser-known Argentinian composers. These works run the gamut from melancholy to mercurial, folding in the lyrical influences of Italian immigrants like Cayetano Troiani, the homebred impressionism of Ángel Lasala, the unapologetic Romanticism of Carlos Guastavino, the folkloric influences of Remo Pignoni and Enrique Albano, the brassy nationalism of Julián Aguirre, Buenos Aires rhythms from a trio of tango gods— Aníbal Troilo, Horacio Salgán and Mariano Mores, and a classical take on the form by Mario Broeders.

For more information, go to www.mirianconti.com

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

The National Philharmonic Celebrates 10 Years at Strathmore in Its 2014-2015 Season
Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic today announced its 2014-2015 season, which celebrates  the orchestra's 10th anniversary of performing at the beautiful Music Center at Strathmore. In early February, a special anniversary weekend kicks off with the annual all-Chopin recital by pianist Brain Ganz, now almost halfway through his quest to perform all of the works of this great Romantic composer, and concludes with a reprise of the Philharmonic's inaugural Strathmore concert from February 12, 2005, featuring Beethoven's epic Symphony No. 9 and Andreas Makris's Strathmore Overture.

During the 2014-15 season, many accomplished soloists will share the stage with the Philharmonic, including  superstar Chee-Yun performing the Sibelius Concerto for Violin; the 2009 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist, Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang, playing the "Mount Everest" of piano concertos—the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3; and premiere cellist Zuill Bailey playing Haydn's elegant Cello Concerto No. 2. In addition, cellist Summer Hu, who at age 11 was one of the first musicians to perform at Strathmore, joins pianist Brian Ganz, tenor Colin Eaton, baritone Norman Garrett and others for the Strathmore 10th anniversary concert on February 8.

The season also features Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. John Passion and Brandenburg Concertos, Mozart's moving Requiem and Jupiter Symphony, and Tchaikovsky's romantic Variations on a Rococo Theme.

In its eleventh year of residency at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic is performing to nearly 50,000 people each year. The Philharmonic will continue its commitment to education and outreach by offering free concerts to every second grader in Montgomery County Public Schools, free pre-concert lectures, master classes with renowned guest soloists and high quality summer string and choral programs.

The success of the Philharmonic over the past 30 years is largely credited to its critically acclaimed performances that are filled with great, time-tested music and its family friendly approach. All young people age 7 to 17 attend National Philharmonic concerts free of charge through its unique ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program.

Repeat Sunday matinee performances of the Philharmonic's most popular programs (six concerts in total in the 2014-15 season) will also be offered again this year. In addition, concertgoers can attend National Philharmonic's pre-concert lectures on featured composers and music 75 minutes before performances.

The 2014-2015 season will also feature performances by such great artists as pianist Christopher Taylor, violinist Justine Lamb-Budge and violist Victoria Chiang; sopranos Danielle Talamantes, Rosa Lamoreaux and Julie Keim; and mezzo-sopranos Magdalena Wór and Margaret Mezzacappa, among others. It will include music by Handel, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Sibelius.

For the sixth year, National Philharmonic is offering its subscribers a flexible custom series. This allows subscribers to create their own packages and receive discounts of up to 25% on tickets, with the largest discounts provided to those who purchase seven or more concerts. Season and subscription information are available at nationalphilharmonic.org or by calling 301-581-5100. Single tickets will be on sale in August 2014.

--Deborah Birnbaum, The National Philharmonic

Pianist Peter Serkin: Masters of the Keyboard
Saturday, May 10, 8:00 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, the distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin has successfully conveyed the essence of five centuries of repertoire. Mr. Serkin, a longtime 92Y collaborator who made his 92Y debut in 1965, has been presented nearly every season since 2002. This recital features three pieces written for Mr. Serkin by American composer Charles Wuorinen—all commissioned or co-commissioned by 92Y since 2007—including the New York premiere of Wuorinen's Intrada. Adagio, Scherzo and Intrada were composed separately for different occasions, but together they can serve as individual movements in a classical sonata. Mr. Serkin's program also explores diverse solo repertoire including works by Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Danish composer Carl Nielsen, and concludes with Beethoven's "Les Adieux" Sonata.

Tickets $25, $35, $57
Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/concerts or 212-415-5500

Ariel Quartet: 92Y Concerts at Subculture
Monday, May 12, 7:30 PM
SubCulture - 45 Bleecker Street (downstairs), NYC

Characterized by its youth, brilliant playing and soulful interpretations, the Ariel Quartet has quickly earned a glowing international reputation for its performances. According to The Washington Post, "…they crank out virtuosity by the bucketful and passion by the yard." The Quartet's 2013/14 season includes two performances of the complete Beethoven cycle for the first time by a quartet, all of whose members are under the age of 30. Formed in Israel, the Ariel Quartet returns to 92Y for an evening of Beethoven, Berg and Haydn String Quartets at SubCulture.

Tickets $30, $35
Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/concerts or 212-415-5500

Pianist Yefim Bronfman & Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Friday, May 23, 8:00 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall

Following his critically acclaimed January performance as part of 92Y and the New York Philharmonic's co-presented CONTACT! series at SubCulture, pianist Yefim Bronfman returns to 92Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall with musicians from the New York Philharmonic for a program spanning genres and time periods. The concert opens with Mr. Bronfman and retiring New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow performing Schubert's Sonatina in A minor, followed by works of Bartók and Brahms. Yefim Bronfman is the New York Philharmonic's 2013-2014 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence and this concert is a co-presentation with the New York Philharmonic.

Tickets $25 (age 35 & under), $45, $58, $62
Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/concerts or 212-415-5500

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Pacific Boychoir Sings the Sound of Vienna in San Francisco
The Pacific Boychoir Academy sings a dynamic concert of Viennese music from the Classical era with the Magik*Magik Orchestra, April 26th at 8:00pm at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, California. Oakland's Grammy-winning choir school, the country's only boychoir school outside of the East Coast, presents The Sound of Vienna, in homage to Europe's famed tradition of powerful music and fine boychoirs. Nearly 60 trebles and 30 tenors and basses perform Haydn's Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida (Heiligmesse) and Mozart's Te Deum, both sung in their entirety. Also enjoy Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Strauss waltzes for treble voices, and Schubert's Ständchen (Op. 135) for alto soloist and four-part men's voices.

The Pacific Boychoir regularly perform this type of repertoire overseas, but this is a rare opportunity for local audiences to hear a mass sung in its entirely and with a large orchestra, over the typical chamber ensemble. Their rich and unique sound of solely men and boys voices will be accompanied, not by their usual counterparts—the San Francisco Symphony or California Symphony, as earlier in the season—but for the second time this year, the Pacific Boychoir collaborates with the Magik*Magik Orchestra. The two organizations recently partnered to celebrates the orchestra's fifth birthday in a rock extravaganza at the Fox Theater. Switching gears to 18th Century popular music, the players will demonstrate their classical chops as graduates of the San Francisco Conservatory, Juilliard, Peabody, and Eastman. Pianist Miles Graber is also featured—an acclaimed teacher and accompanist for the National Association of Composers, the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley, and the Preparatory Division of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The venue, St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, has a rich history of some of the best liturgical music in the Bay area, heard in the vast acoustic of the over 100-year-old structure. Associate Director Jonathon Hampton says, "We're thrilled to perform in what is perhaps the Bay Area's most grand, European-influenced churches. The classical style puts the singers and audience closer to an authentic experience of the music." Engineer John E. Pope envisioned a building "with towering outlines visible from all parts of the city," and "stately towers piercing the air above the breakers." Hampton says, "We expect our sound to soar and captivate listeners just the same."
For tickets or more information, visit PacificBoychoir.org.

--Jonathan Hampton, Pacific Boychoir

Violinist Sarah Chang Plays Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore
The brilliant violinist Sarah Chang will join the National Philharmonic, under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, for Vivaldi's best-known work, the popular Four Seasons, at the Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday, May 17, 2012 at 8 pm and on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 3 pm. The concert will also feature Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss.

Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work and is among the most popular pieces of the Baroque period. It is a set of four violin concertos that reflect and celebrate nature's meteorological cycles. The concertos each depict a season and are filled with dazzling effects mimicking natural phenomena such as storms, wind, thunder and rain, as well as bird calls. Vivaldi wrote a sonnet to accompany each concerto and notated in the scores exactly what the music illustrates. For example, a "barking dog," is heard during the second movement of Spring and "languor caused by the heat" is evoked in the soothing and calm first movement of Summer.

The program also includes one of Strauss' last work, Metamorphosen, the adagio for strings that was written during the closing days of World War II as an elegy for the destruction of Munich. It is scored for ten violins, five violas, five cellos and three double basses. Near the end of the work, several bars of the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony can be heard. Strauss noted this section in the score, accompanied by the words "In Memoriam!" Strauss' quotation of the Eroica and including "In Memoriam" can be seen as having parallels with Strauss's own involvement and rejection of Hitler and the Nazi regime. As one of Strauss's last works, Metamorphosen masterfully exhibits the complex counterpoint for which the composer showed a predilection throughout his creative life.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, May 17 and at 1:45 pm on Sunday, May 18 in the Concert Hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the Sarah Chang concerts, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$81; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Transient Glory: A Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli
Friday, April 25 at 8 p.m.

Transient Glory, YPC's acclaimed new music series, returns with a special Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli. Missy is one of today's most admired, young, indie-classical composers.

She has set and arranged selections from her genre-bending compositions especially to be performed for the first time by YPC and her all-star band, Victoire. With Francisco J. Núñez conducting, this exciting universe of sounds, bursting with vitality, diversity, and youthful optimism, will include the world premiere of a new YPC Transient Glory commission, New New York Songs. New New York Songs is set to a poem by Walt Whitman about a ferry ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, that musically explores the feelings and experiences that connect New Yorkers of all ages and eras.

Join us on April 25 and see whether you agree with National Public Radio about the music of Missy Mazzoli: Is this music "post-rock, post-minimalist or pseudo-post-pre-modernist indie-chamber-electronica? It doesn't particularly matter. It's just good music!"

Transient Glory: A Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli
Friday, April 25, at 8 p.m.
Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y (at Lexington Avenue), NYC
Tickets: $15, from the 92nd Street Y box office, at 212-415-5500, or online at www.92y.org.

--Katharine Gibson, Young People's Chorus of New York City

Ted Hearne Selected as Third Annual New Voices Composer
Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Boosey & Hawkes, the New World Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony announced composer Ted Hearne as the third annual New Voices composer. A recipient of the Gaudeamus Prize; ASCAP's Leonard Bernstein Award and Morton Gould Award; fellowships from the Barlow Endowment, the Fromm Music Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and two residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Ted Hearne has captured the attention of the classical, pop, and rock worlds. His collaborations with ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and artists like Erykah Badu have earned him praise from musicians and critics. Also a singer, Hearne has been called a "vocal hellion" by Time Out Chicago, and The Los Angeles Times has said, "No single artist embodies the post-genre Brooklyn scene, but Hearne may be its most zealous auteur."

"Ted Hearne is an exciting young composer, his music often combining various musical traditions and styles," comments Michael Tilson Thomas. "I look forward to working with him in a variety of new commissions and settings on both coasts."

For more information, visit www.tedhearne.com

--Schuman Associates News

Music Institute of Chicago Free Concert April 23
The Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served.

The March program features Music Institute faculty members Meret Bitticks, flute; Stanley Davis, clarinet; Barbara Drapcho, clarinet; Mary Drews, piano; and guest artist William Dresden, piano. The program includes works by Chicago composer Robert Muczynski, Samuel Barber, and Charles Stanford.

Free Faculty Lunchtime Concerts: Chamber music: flute, clarinet, piano
Day/Date/Time: Wednesday, April 23, 12:15–1 p.m.
Location: Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL
Admission: Free
For further Information, click musicinst.org or call 847.905.1500

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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.