Classical Music News of the Week: July 24, 2011

Cleveland International Piano Competition Presents Contestants from Fourteen Countries

After conducting on-site auditions in the cities of New York, Cleveland, London, and Munich, the Cleveland International Piano Competition proudly welcomes an international roster of contestants to this year's competition, running July 27 through August 7. With twenty-eight pianists from eleven countries, Cleveland's impeccable reputation for prestige, fairness, and dedication to creating a positive competition environment continues to attract a field of highly qualified applicants from across the globe, perpetuating its standing as one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world.

Several distinctions set the Cleveland International Piano Competition apart from other piano competitions: The first-prize cash award of $50,000 is one of the largest prizes of any piano competition in the world. The Competition's partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra--which performs with contestants in the final round--represents the highest caliber or collaboration present in any piano competition. The Competition's unwavering commitment to providing an atmosphere free of distractions or disruptions allows contestants to perform at their best, and continually sets Cleveland apart as a competition aimed first and foremost at providing positive experiences for all competitors.

Now in its thirty-sixth year of existence, the Cleveland International Piano Competition possesses an eminent list of alumni, and winners benefit from an array of professional opportunities following the competition. The Competition's 2009 winner Martina Filjak has enjoyed a hugely successful career since her victory, performing nearly 100 solo and orchestral engagements worldwide over the past two years. Additional winners from past years include such notable artists as Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Angela Hewitt, and Sergei Babayan.

During the competition's ten days of performances, solo rounds are held twice daily for the first eight days. Candidates are eliminated over this period by vote of the jury until four finalists remain.  Finalists perform with the Cleveland Orchestra over a two-night period and the winner is announced at the conclusion of the last performance. A celebration gala is held on the final night of the performances.

First Round
July 27 – July 29 at 1:00pm and 7:00pm
The Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH
All candidates play 25-30 minute recital programs
Second Round
July 30 – August 1 at 1:00pm and 7:00pm
The Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH
All 36 candidates play 30-35 minute recital programs
Semi-Final Round
August 2 and 3 at 1:00pm and 7:00pm
The Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH
Eight candidates perform 55-60 minute recital programs
Final Round
August 5 and 6 at 7:00pm
Severance Hall, Cleveland, OH
Four finalists perform concerti with the Cleveland Orchestra
Final rankings are announced at the conclusion of the August 6 concert
Award Ceremony and Winners Recital
August 7 at 3:00pm
Severance Hall, Cleveland, OH
Encore recital performance by the Laureates
Presentation of awards

For additional information; contestant's photographs, biographies and repertoire; and jury biographies, please visit the Competition's Web site at

Tickets for performances range from $15 to $75. Recital rounds, performed at The Cleveland Play House, can be purchased at the Play House ticket office at 216-795-7000 or Tickets for the final rounds, performed at Severance Hall, can be purchased at the Severance Hall ticket office at 216-231-1111 or

--Della Homenik, Communications Director, CIPC
--Nate Bachhuber, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Winner of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition to Perform With National Philharmonic

North Bethesda, MD, July 19, 2011:  The National Philharmonic is proud to announce that the 2011 winner of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition--pianist Daniil Trifonov--will perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Philharmonic, led by Music Director and conductor Piotr Gajewski, on February 4, 2012, at 8 p.m. and on February 5, 2012, at 3 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore.

Held every four years in Moscow, the Tchaikovsky Competition includes the disciplines of piano, violin, cello and voice.  In past years, the piano category has been won by such legends as Van Cliburn and Vladimir Ashkenazy. This month, the International Tchaikovsky Competition awarded pianist Trifonov First Prize, a Gold Medal, the special prize for Best Performance of a Mozart Concerto and the Audience Choice Award. On the final day of the competition, he was selected as the Grand Prize winner.

The Tchaikovsky Competition triumph is the crowning achievement of a series of awards garnered by Trifonov, who in May won First Prize and Gold Medal at the 13th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv and in 2010 won third prize in the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.

Born on March 5, 1991 in Nizhny Novgorod, Daniil Trifonov is a graduate of the Gnesin School of Music in Moscow, where he studied with Tatiana Zelikman. Since 2009, he has been studying with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 2008, he won first prize in the San Marino International Piano Competition and fifth prize in the International Scriabin Competition in Moscow.

As the Music Center at Strathmore's ensemble-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

Tickets for the All Tchaikovsky concerts on February 4, 2012 at 8pm and on February 5, 2012 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore are now available as part of National Philharmonic's 2011-2012 subscription season. To purchase, please visit or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. 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. In addition, parking is free. Attached is a photo of pianist Daniil Trifonov (photo credit Vadim Shults).

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Coming to a Theater Near You

On July 28 at 7:00 pm (local times), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a one-time event, LIVE FROM JERUSALEM, honoring the legacy of the great American opera star, Richard Tucker. Conducted by Zubin Mehta and featuring soprano RenĂ©e Fleming and tenor Joseph Calleja, the concert will be cinecast to over 480 movie theaters nationwide and features such mainstays in the operatic literature as Gounod's "Jewel Song" from Faust (Fleming), Verdi's  "Parigi, o cara" from La Traviata (Fleming and Calleja), Puccini's "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca (Calleja), and other arias by opera's greatest composers.

The majestic LIVE FROM JERUSALEM" concert will be shown in a 'Delayed Live Broadcast.' Visit to find a theater in your area.

--Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

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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