Classical News of the Week: June 26, 2011

Gabriel Kahane Featured as Composer-in-Residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival

New York, NY – Much has been made over Gabriel Kahane's ability to transcend rigid genre classifications. His compositions--which range from probing classical song cycles to joyous theater pieces to raucous indie hits--are far more concerned with exploring his musical potential than fitting in with a particular market niche. This summer, Kahane will be featured as the Composer-in-Residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, a six-week concert series known for its diverse programing and wide range of musical offerings. The two are a perfect fit.

As the Composer-in-Residence, Kahane will perform two nights of music and premiere a new commission, a short cycle of songs called Come on All You Ghosts. On July 19, he will present one of the Festival's four "Soirées", at which audience members can enjoy food and drink while Kahane entertains from the piano. The program, entitled "An Evening with Gabriel Kahane: Music for the Ear, Intellect and Soul," will highlight in an intimate setting Kahane's lieder/songs shaped by wry stories and direct personal emotions. The following night, July 20, he offers "The Artistry of Gabriel Kahane," supported by an ensemble that comprises the Calder Quartet and seven New York-based instrumentalists, complete with the world premiere of Come on All You Ghosts. The piece is based on poems by San Francisco poet Matthew Zapruder.

The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival was founded in 1987 by John Giovando, an attorney with a love of classical music, with eminent violinist Ida Kavafian. Through world-class performances, dedicated leadership, and generous support from the community, the Festival has grown from attracting a handful of attendees to an annual audience of more than 60,000. This season, celebrated pianist Anne-Marie McDermott serves as artistic director. The festival is organized into ten different theme, including "Beethoven: Architect of Humanity," "Golden Twilight: The Music of Mahler," and "Big Music for Little Bands," among others. Nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Bravo! will feature three of America's greatest orchestras: the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In addition, more than fifty distinguished soloists visit the Vail Valley to perform in chamber ensembles and as soloists with the three world-class resident orchestras. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns observes, "Few if any classical music institutions west of the Mississippi have flourished as Bravo! has."

Writing and performing music that moves effortlessly from dense modernism to vernacular song, Gabriel Kahane has established himself as a leading voice among a generation of young composers redefining music for the 21st century. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times for "an all around dazzling performance" in his orchestral debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic earlier this year (in the premiere of his song cycle Orinoco Sketches, conducted by John Adams), Kahane moves with ease as a performer between musical realms. Performance highlights of the 2010-11 season included sold out concerts with artists as varied as Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau, the cellist Alisa Weilerstein, as well as with his father, the noted pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane, with whom he collaborated on a critically acclaimed duo recital. Throughout his career, Kahane has performed and/or recorded with Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, Punch Brothers, and Audra McDonald, who has incorporated his songs into her repertoire. Launched by his 2006 song cycle "Craiglistlieder," Kahane's rapid ascent as a composer continues to bloom. He is also an in-demand theater composer, having received commissions from the Signature Theater in Arlington, VA, and the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. A 2010 MacDowell Colony fellow, Kahane makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, in close company with a century-old piano and many books.

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Live From Jerusalem: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Zubin Mehta, with Soloists Renee Fleming and Joseph Calleja in One-Night Cinema Event

NCM Fathom and Mod 3 Live Premieres Jerusalem Concert Event with Time Delayed Live Broadcast to More than 480 Theaters Nationwide on July 28

Centennial, Colo. – June 22, 2011:  Zubin Mehta conducts the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in the breathtaking city of Jerusalem with a special one-night event featuring soprano Renée Fleming and tenor Joseph Calleja. NCM Fathom and Mod 3 Live present "Live from Jerusalem: An Evening with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Conducted by Zubin Mehta with Soloists Renée Fleming and Joseph Calleja" on Thursday, July 28 at 7:00 pm (local time). Filled with majestic arias and duets, the performance includes a sweeping visual and audio experience that will bring down the curtain on the Jerusalem Season of Culture 2011.

Tickets for "Live from Jerusalem" are available at participating theater box offices and on-line at For a complete list of theater locations, please visit the Web site (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Set before the beautiful backdrop of the Jerusalem landscape, "Live from Jerusalem" will take audiences of all cultures and generations on a journey to Jerusalem to experience exclusive performances conducted and performed by the world's greatest talents.

Known as "America's Beautiful Voice," Renée Fleming has a devoted international following wherever she appears, whether on the operatic stage, in concert or recital, on television, radio or on disc. One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry and compelling stage presence. Known as "the people's diva" and named the No. 1 female singer by Salzburger Festspiele Magazine in 2010, she continues to grace the world's greatest opera stages and recently received her third Grammy-award for the Decca recording, "Verismo."

Already one of the tenors most sought after by leading opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic, Joseph Calleja has routinely been compared to "legendary singers from earlier eras: Jussi Björling, Beniamino Gigli, even Enrico Caruso" (Associated Press). The Maltese tenor's recent successes include role debuts at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Calleja's engagements have placed him in 28 leading roles and taken him to virtually every major European city, an outstanding achievement for a 33-year-old. An exclusive Decca Classics recording artist since 2003, his new recording The Maltese Tenor will be released in the U.S. this fall.

Internationally-renowned orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta has had a remarkable association with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for five decades. He was appointed the orchestra's music director in 1969, a position that was extended for life in 1981. The bond that was established between Mehta and the IPO, Israel's finest cultural emissary, has grown into what he calls a "lasting marriage" of creative prosperity. For his outstanding work with major orchestras and opera companies around the world Mehta has garnered numerous awards including a Kennedy Center Honor in 2006 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.

--Susan Demler, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Marlboro Festival Celebrates Sixty Years

Marlboro Festival is celebrating sixty years this year, and there is a ton of stuff happening. Most relevant is that for the first time ever, recordings from years past will now be available on the Marlboro Recording Series imprint. Here are some details of the first three recordings:

CD #1:
Mozart:  Quintet in D Major, K. 593
Sarah Kapustin, violin
Diana Cohen, violin
Mark Holloway, viola
Sebastian Krunnies, viola
David Soyer, cello
Performance of July 16, 2005

Beethoven:  Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 "Archduke"
Performance of July 23, 2006

Schubert: Piano Trio in E-flat Major, D. 929
Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Soovin Kim, violin
David Soyer, cello
Performance of July 13, 2008

CD #2:
Debussy: Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10
Joseph Lin, violin
Judy Kang, violin
Richard O'Neill, viola
David Soyer, cello
Performance of February 17, 2002

Ravel: Introduction et Allegro
Sivan Magen, harp
Joshua Smith, flute
Moran Katz, clarinet
Joseph Lin, violin
Benjamin Beilman, violin
Luke Fleming, viola
Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, cello
Performance of July 18, 2010

Ravel: String Quartet in F Major
Soovin Kim, violin
Jessica Lee, violin
Jonathan Vinocour, viola
Soo Bae, cello
Performance of April 1, 2007

CD #3
Respighi: Il Tramonto
Jennifer Johnson, mezzo-soprano
Ida Levin, violin
Yonah Zur, violin
Beth Guterman, viola
Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir, cello
Performance of October 24, 2010

Cuckson: Der gayst funem shturem (The Spirit of the Storm)
Jennifer Johnson, mezzo-soprano
Sarah Beaty, clarinet
Angela Cordell Bilger, horn
Sivan Magen, harp
Ida Levin, violin
Yonah Zur, violin
Beth Guterman, viola
Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir, cello
Zachary Cohen, double bass
Performance of October 24, 2010

Shostakovich: Songs on Hebrew Folk Themes, for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Piano, Op. 79
Benita Valente, soprano
Glenda Maurice, mezzo-soprano
Jon Humphrey, tenor
Luis Batlle, piano
Performance of August 18, 1967

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet Media

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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 John 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 ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa