Sullivan: Ballet Music (CD review)

L’Ile Enchantee; Thespis. Andrew Penny, RTE Concert Orchestra. Naxos 8.555180.

By John J. Puccio

Many people today probably only know the British composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) from his collaborations with Sir William S. Gilbert, Sullivan writing the music and Gilbert the lyrics of their many hit light operas. But Sullivan’s work also includes operas, orchestral works, incidental music, songs, piano, and chamber pieces. Among them is the ballet presented here, L’Ile Enchantee (“The Enchanted Isle”), performed by Andrew Penny and Ireland’s RTE Concert Orchestra.

Sullivan wrote L’Ile Enchantee in 1861, and it was among his first orchestral compositions. He intended it as a divertissement, a light entertainment, a diversion, usually used during an interlude in a longer, more-serious work but here used at the end of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera La sonnambula at Covent Garden. The public received the music with acclaim, but the full score was subsequently lost.  We may consider Penny’s recording, in which Roderick Spencer and Selwyn Tillett have found and restored some previously lost passages, a world-première event.

The opening Prelude has a serious Mendelssohnian feeling to it. The music continues with a whole parade of light, melodic, and wholly delightful tunes. There’s even a brief Strauss-like waltz involved. The story line of the ballet is negligible, to say the least. A shipwrecked sailor washes ashore on an enchanted island filled with gnomes and fairies (and thus the Mendelssohn reference). He falls for the queen, and the rest is...well, music. I’m surprised this little ballet didn’t catch on the way so much of Sullivan’s other music has. Whatever, Maestro Penny appears to be on top of everything--from the rollicking inner sections to the sweetest, most-gentle ones, and his Irish orchestra seems to be enjoying itself as well.

Accompanying L’Ile Enchantee are some snippets of ballet music from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Thespis (1871), their first collaboration together. However, they never published the piece, and most of it is now lost, except for the fragments of ballet from it we get here.

Producer Murray Khouri made the album at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland in April 1992. Naxos originally released the disc in their full-priced Marco Polo line but now offer it at a substantially lower price (although if you insist on paying more, you can still find it new on the Marco Polo label). I liked the sound a lot. It’s among the more natural recordings I’ve heard lately, even though Naxos recorded it some thirty years ago (or perhaps because they recorded it so long ago). The recording displays good depth, with more than adequate dynamics and frequency range. And all without a hint of brightness or edge.

JJP

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

Classical Music News of the Week, April 10, 2021

Tulsa Opera Announces Additional Performance and Live-Stream

Due to high demand, Tulsa Opera has announced a second performance of Greenwood Overcomes featuring a program of works by 23 living Black composers performed by eight Black artists to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The performances will be Saturday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. CT and Sunday, May 2 at 2:30 p.m. CT at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Additionally, the Saturday performance will be live-streamed free on Tulsa Opera’s website, https://tulsaopera.com/.

Greenwood Overcomes is part of a citywide commemoration effort spearheaded by the concert’s co-producer, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission (Tulsa2021.org), which is dedicated to producing and promoting projects that further the remembrance and honor the legacy of Black Wall Street, the Greenwood neighborhood that was razed by mobs of white residents on May 31–June 1, 1921.

--Jennifer Scott, Shuman Associates

What Soes YPC's Gala Support?
Young People’s Chorus of New York City uses music as the unifying force to connect children from all cultural and economic backgrounds. We are proud to provide full scholarships to 85% of our 2,000 choristers, which allows every child the opportunity to participate in YPC's life-changing music education and mentorship programs along with academic and social support. The contributions of our YPC supporters strengthen our ability to create a space in which all young people can find themselves in a song and create lifelong memories.

By supporting YPC’s Gala (May 10), you are supporting our scholarship program. Support our Gala here:
https://ypc.org/event/gala-2021/

--Young People’s Chorus of New York City

Beethoven in Beijing
“Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing” premieres Friday, April 16 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/, and the PBS Video app.

The documentary spotlights the resurgence of classical music in China through the legacy of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first American orchestra to perform in China in 1973. Following the end of China’s Cultural Revolution, when Western classical music was banned in favor of politically themed works, the onset of “Beethoven fever” began. Narrated by American and Chinese musicians and historians, the film explores the impact of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic tour on China both then and now and incorporates interviews with renowned musicians including Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, famed classical pianist Lang Lang, Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and more.

--Elizabeth Boone, WNET

The Argus Quartet in noise/SILENCE
Five Boroughs Music Festival and The Noguchi Museum co-present the daring and innovative Argus Quartet in noise/SILENCE, a digital world premiere concert, on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7:30pm ET.

Part of Five Boroughs Music Festival’s 2020-2021 digital mainstage season, noise/SILENCE is co-produced by the Argus Quartet and will be filmed on-site at the Queens-based Noguchi Museum in early April 2021, exploring the symbiosis of silence and sound through music inspired by and in response to the art of Isamu Noguchi, the iconic 20th century sculptor. Noguchi’s sculptures, on display at his eponymous museum, provide a stunning backdrop to the Argus Quartet’s performances of works by John Cage, Rolf Wallin, Dorothy Rudd Moore, and Paul Wiancko, who joins the quartet as a guest performer for his piece, Vox Petra.

Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7:30pm ET
Tickets: Free on the 5BMF YouTube channel
Learn More: https://5bmf.org/events/noise-silence

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

West Edge Adds Another Live Performance
West Edge Opera is adding a Snapshot live performance on Sunday, May 16th, 4pm, at The Bruns Amphitheater. 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda CA. Originally, West Edge Opera was to offer only one live performance on Saturday May 15th, and to offer a recording of the program released online for patrons to watch in at home. However, when our box office opened last Thursday, tickets for the Saturday performance were nearly sold out within hours.

In response, West Edge Opera has added a live performance to the Snapshot program on Sunday, May 16th, 4pm, at The Bruns Amphitheater. We have cancelled our online recording. Tickets for Sunday, May 16th are available online at https://www.westedgeopera.org/. General Admission tickets are $40, and very few Underwriter Tickets are still available at $200. Underwriters are seated front and center, with best acoustic sound.

--West Edge Opera

What's Streaming: Classical (Week of April 12-18)
Tuesday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh featured in University of Georgia conversation.
https://www.facebook.com/ugapresents or
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiYzutgFY7n82ls2dibTFSA

Thursday, April 15 at 12:00 p.m. GMT / 7:00 a.m. ET:
Stephen Hough performs Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé orchestra.
https://www.halle.co.uk/booking-information/

riday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. CT:
Minnesota Orchestra, conductor Marc Albrecht, and pianist Simon Trpceski perform works by Shostakovich and Schumann.
https://minnesotaorchestra.org/

Available now:
James Conlon discusses “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini's The Barber of Seville on the Aria Code podcast.
https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/aria-code/episodes/aria-code-rossini-barber-of-seville-pretty-yende

--Shuman Associates

Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021
The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021 and the Richmond Symphony announced today the schedule of events for this year’s Competition, May 14-23, 2021. After a year of waiting necessitated by the global pandemic, the Competition welcomes the exceptional young violinists originally selected to participate in the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020. Finally, they will have a chance to perform via video recital for the jury, for each other and for a virtual audience of family, friends, teachers and music lovers around the globe.

The co-hosts—the City of Richmond, Virginia, Richmond Symphony, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and VPM, Virginia’s home for public media—are looking forward to providing a warm “virtual” welcome to the young violinists from around the world taking part in the Competition.

For details, visit https://2021.menuhincompetition.org/

--Beverly Greenfield, Kirschbaum Associates

Bang on a Can's OneBeat Marathon No. 2
Bang on a Can is excited to present the second OneBeat Marathon – Live Online – on Sunday, May 2, 2021 from 12PM - 4PM EDT, curated by Found Sound Nation, its social practice and global collaboration wing. Over four hours the OneBeat Marathon will share the power of music and tap into the most urgent and essential sounds of our time. From the Kyrgyz three-stringed komuz played on the high steppe, to the tranceful marimba de chonta of Colombia's pacific shore, to the Algerian Amazigh highlands and to the trippy organic beats of Bombay’s underground scene – OneBeat finds a unifying possibility of sound that ties us all together.

OneBeat, a cultural diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by Found Sound Nation, is redefining intercultural music exchange and developing methodologies to promote civic engagement through music. Since 2011, OneBeat residency programs have convened more than 200 young pioneering musicians from 41 countries to dive into the musical unknown together and build a global network of artists committed to civic discourse.

For complete information, visit https://bangonacan.org/

--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Valley of the Moon Music Festival Announces 2021 Season
Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VMMF) brings the captivating sound of period instruments to the world of Classical and Romantic chamber music for its 2021 season, “Love and Longing: Reaching Across the Distance.” A series of nine curated programs inspired by the fundamental human desire to connect, the Festival brings together artists and audiences across digital platforms and modified in-person live performances, July 17 – August 1, 2021, with a special preview concert on June 24.

RSVP is required and is now open for all virtual events. A limited number of tickets for the live, outdoor, socially-distanced concerts in Sonoma County will be available for purchase on or around May 1, 2021. Please visit https://valleyofthemoonmusicfestival.org/ to make a seating reservation.

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Lebanese-American Tenor, Amine Hachem, Releases New Single
“I share with you a song that observes the hardships we’ve encountered this past year. A worldwide pandemic, the Beirut explosion, natural disasters across the globe, political instability, loss of livelihoods, and the complete shut down of many industries including show business have left many of us reconstructing our lives.

This song has allowed me to reflect deeply and discover that indeed hard times seem to follow us no matter where we find ourselves in history. It’s also reinforced in me the understanding of what is important in life; the fortunate looking out for the less fortunate.

Listen to “Hard Times Come Again No More”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzx1CXTLOWo

--Amine J. Hachem

SOLI Presents “Stories from the Voices Within”
SOLI Chamber Ensemble continues its season on April 25-26, 7:30 pm, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden with “Stories from the Voices Within” – featuring two world premieres and special guest appearances by San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson and Flamenco artist Tamara Adira.

SOLI will present the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Elegy for those we lost. Originally written as a solo piano work in collaboration with filmmaker Esther Shubinski and released on YouTube as a memorial to victims of COVID-19, Kernis has arranged the work for violin and piano for SOLI musicians Ertan Torgul and Carolyn True.

The centerpiece of the concert will be the world premiere of San Antonio-native Darian Donovan Thomas’ ((HERE)), an extended work for SOLI, electronics, vocalist (singing, rapping, and narrating), and androgynous dancer. Thomas sources texts and song material from San Antonio Poet Laureate and Hip-Hop artist Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, who collaborated with Thomas on the commission.

Tickets start at $15. Seating is limited at the Betty Kelso Center and Greehey Lawn and advance purchase is strongly recommended. Click here to reserve your seat today!

Details: https://www.solichamberensemble.com/voices-within/

--Anne Schellenge, SOLI Chamber Ensemble

“Music with a View” Concert No.7
We are proud to announce and invite you to our next “Music with a View” Concert Livestream featuring Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal French Hornist, David Cooper, with distinguished pianist Kuang-Hao Huang. All of our “Music with a View” concerts are professionally recorded and archived for your continued enjoyment.

Ticket prices start at just $15 on IN.LIVE, the world's best new platform for live streaming. Featuring easy sign-on, and ultimate audio and video quality, this livestream concert experience is second-to-none.

“Music with a View” subscribers will receive a separate email with a PROMO code to enable you to enter and view the live stream event for free, so please mark your calendars and stay tuned.

More information: https://sheridanmusicstudio.com/music-with-a-view

--Sheridan Music Studio

Los Angeles Master Chorale's Oratorio Project
Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Voices Within Oratorio Project, now in its 10th year, culminates in the digital premiere of “Naia: The Spirit of Hoyo Negro,” an original oratorio written by approximately 80 Van Nuys High School students who participated in the 20-week program remotely and virtually during the 2020-21 academic school year.

“Naia: The Spirit of Hoyo Negro” will be premiered as a series of digital episodes, Monday - Thursday, May 3 - 6, 2021, culminating in the digital release of the complete work on Friday, May 7, 2021.

Mon. - Fri., May 3 - 7, 2021 at 10 a.m. PST: https://lamasterchorale.org/

--Lisa Bellamore, Crescent Communications

Concours Musical International de Montréal
From April 26 – May 14, the Concours Musical International de Montréal (CMIM) will hold its triennial piano edition in a virtual format after a one-year postponement due to COVID-19.  A preliminary jury has selected from among 229 candidates twenty-six semifinalists aged 21-30 who represent 11 different countries including Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, the United States and Uzbekistan to compete for over $230,000 in prizes and awards.

In addition to a grand prize of $30,000 from the city of Montréal and the $50,000 Joseph Rouleau Career Development Grant offered by the Azrieli Foundation, the first prize winner will also be offered a concert tour in three North American cities (sponsored by Sarah Beauchamp), an artist residency at Canada’s Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, a concerto performance with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in an upcoming season and a solo album recording on the Steinway & Sons label with a launch event at Steinway Hall in New York City.

All stages of the competition will be available for free, on-demand listening on CMIM’s website, https://www.concoursmontreal.ca/en/.

--Bucklesweet/Rebecca Davis PR

The Atterbury Sessions Continue with Nella
Nella is a new voice hailing from the Venezuelan island of Margarita.

In a short time, she went from Berklee College of Music graduate to winner of the 2019 Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That same year, her full-length debut, “Voy (I Go)” received acclaim from NPR and yielded the hit “Me Llaman Nella.”

Merging the folklore roots of Venezuela, modern production, and Andalusian inspirations, her sound resounds in every corner of the globe. She has sold out venues throughout the United States, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, and the UK. At the beginning of 2020 Nella signed with Sony Music Records and will release her next album in late spring.

Livestream is Saturday April 10 at 5 PM EST, and will be available for one week thereafter. Please join us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imc_LiRPut0

--Lara St. John

John Luther Adams: The Become Trilogy (CD and book review)

Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony. Cantaloupe CA21161 (3-disc set).
Also, Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York, 2020. 194 pp. ISBN: 978-0-374-26462-8.

By Karl W. Nehring

Just to be perfectly clear, the composer of the Become Trilogy is the American composer John Luther Adams (b. 1953), who is not the same person as the American composer John Adams (b. 1947), who is famous for compositions such as his opera Nixon in China and his orchestral showpiece Short Ride in a Fast Machine. John Adams is based in California, while John Luther Adams was long based in Alaska, where he lived from 1978 to 2014. He now resides in the American Southwest.

John Luther Adams received widespread attention for the first of the three compositions included in this three-CD boxed set, Become Ocean, which was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music. It is a powerful piece, deep and brooding and churning, capturing the energy and mystery of the ocean depths. In his liner notes, Adams explains that, “Become Ocean is titled after a mesostic poem that John Cage wrote in honor of Lou Harrison. Likening Harrison’s music to a river in delta, Cage wrote:

            LiStening to it
    we becOme
        oceaN.

Adams goes on to explain that “in Become Ocean a full symphony orchestra is deployed in three different ensembles, separated as widely as possible. Each of these groups has its own distinctive instrumental and harmonic colorations, each moving in its own tempo.” Lest his talk of three ensembles playing in three tempos immediately scare you off, let me assure you that although Become Ocean has a dense, complex sound, it does not have a dissonant, chaotic, forbidding sound. Indeed, the piece has a majesty to it that can truly draw the listener in. It conveys a sense of elemental power that goes beyond waves on the surface to reveal the force of the mighty currents below and the astonishing force of the tides. Debussy’s La Mer gives us a vivid portrait of the ocean as seen from without; Adams has a different goal in mind. “I composed Become Ocean on the edge of the Pacific, in Mexico, where my wife and I lived for most of a decade. Yet from time to time when people ask me: ‘Which ocean is it?’ My answer is always the same: ‘Your ocean…’ Become Ocean is a meditation on the deep and mysterious tides of existence.”  The piece was something of a sensation when it was originally released, perhaps not quite to the scale of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (here) but still quite noteworthy for a classical music release.

The remaining two compositions in the trilogy Become River and Become Desert, were recorded in 2018. Reflecting on the kind of music he was trying to create in the works that make up this trilogy, Adams notes that “Stravinsky remarked that music is the sole domain in which we fully realize the present. Yet so much orchestral music is continually becoming—unfolding in narrative arcs, like novels or movies… The pieces of the Become trilogy are not symphonic studies about rivers, deserts, or the sea. This is music that aspires to the condition of place. The titles are not ‘Becoming…’. They’re ‘Become…’. The invitation is for you, the listener, to enter into the music, to lose yourself, and perhaps to discover oceans, deserts, and rivers of your own.”

Adams observes that he has known many rivers throughout his life, and that for a good part of his life he lived in the Tanana River basin in Alaska, of which he notes that “a musical evocation of the Tanana would have to be a long piece, for a large orchestra. Become River is shorter, and scored for a smaller orchestra—an orchestra turned upside down. Rather than their usual position near the edge of the stage, the violins are seated far upstage and elevated. The entire assembly is raked, from high to low sounds. Over the course of twenty minutes, the music flows downstream in three interlocking streams moving at different tempos, running to the sea.” Once again that description might make the music sound forbidding, or even unlistenable, but in truth, Become River is actually quite beguiling. The various elements of the sound -- tinkling percussion, swirling strings, shifting tones from the brass and woodwinds—all combine in the imagination to offer a striking impression of a river, and if you let yourself go as you listen, you truly can begin to feel in some sense becoming at least a wee bit riverish… Seriously, though, it is a remarkable composition, a 21st-century Die Moldau.

Adams notes of the final piece of the trilogy that “Become Desert completes this trilogy that I didn’t set out to write. In all three of these works, space is a fundamental compositional element. I’m not speaking only of poetic or metaphorical space, but also of the physical space of the musical ensemble, and the acoustical space in which the music is heard. At forty-two minutes, Become Desert is the same length as Become Ocean. But it encompasses an even larger musical space. Five different ensembles are stationed around the audience… In the desert, as Octavio Paz observes: ‘That which is not stone is light.’ Here, you can ‘close your eyes and listen to the singing of the light.’ This image led me to realize that Become Desert needed to include human voices. The chorus sings a single word, throughout: Luz (the Spanish word for ‘light’).” As you might expect, there is less sense of motion in this music, although there is still a great sense of energy. The subtle contribution of the voices produces a different texture to this music that further sets it apart from the two water-based members of the trilogy. Of the three compositions, I found it the hardest to get into at first, but upon repeated listening, I came to really appreciate it. As with the other two pieces, it rewards concentrated listening, but it can also be enjoyed by just closing your eyes and letting the sound take you away.

Speaking of sound, I of course listened in stereo, which is quite excellent, but there are also 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos mixes of all three compositions available (in digital format only). That could be quite interesting, both sonically and psychologically. Unfortunately, without (a) wideband internet access (one of the few drawbacks of my rural lifestyle) or (b) a 5.1 or Dolby Atmos system, I am unable to report on what particular sonic and/or spiritual bliss that immersive listening experience might entail, alas.

In his memoir Silences So Deep, Adams writes that “Music is my way of understanding the world, of knowing where I am and how I fit in. An unsettled childhood left me with a gnawing, inarticulate hunger to find my real home and family—the place to which I would truly belong, and the people with whom I would share ties deeper than blood. In Alaska—where I lived for four decades—I found both.” We learn how he came to find friendship, a cabin in the wilderness with no running water, a role as a timpanist in the Fairbanks Symphony, and a gig as a music director and program host for a local NPR radio station. We read about how inspiration came to him for some of his early musical compositions, and how he grew in his conception of music and composition. He writes of friendships and how they influenced him, of how observing skilled craftsmen such as masons and carpenters influenced his approach to composing music.

Eventually, though, as he felt both the climate and his life inevitably changing, he chose to leave Alaska. He writes that “as Cindy and I got a little older and as the pristine ferocity of the cold began to diminish, the subarctic winter darkness became more challenging. We began spending more and more time in a house on the Pacific coast of Baja California… In that house, over the next decade or so, I would compose Canticles of the Holy Wind, Become River, Become Ocean, and Become Desert. In the Become trilogy, I sought to bring my ideal of an entire piece of music as a single, rich, complex sonority to its fullest realization.”

Silences So Deep is an enjoyable book that can stand on its own apart from Adams’s music. However, if you have enjoyed the music of John Luther Adams, whether from one or all of his Become trilogy compositions or some of his many other fine works, then this is a book that you will most likely truly enjoy.

KWN

Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first 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 use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

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

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa