Classical News of the Week: July 10, 2011

The Marlboro Music Festival Launches a Series of Live Recordings of Great Chamber Performances Handpicked by Artistic Directors Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode

The first three releases in the partnership with ArkivMusic--available digitally August 2 and on CD August 30--include recordings of Beethoven and Schubert featuring Uchida, as well as vocal chamber scores by Respighi, Cuckson, and Shostakovich, and quartets by Debussy and Ravel.

Each summer since 1951, some of the world's most distinguished musicians and exceptional young artists have gathered for seven weeks on the campus of Marlboro College in southern Vermont to create a community like no other: the Marlboro Music School & Festival. To coincide with the festival's 60th anniversary month, the Marlboro Recording Society begins a series devoted to releasing memorable live performances from the festival never previously issued commercially. These concert recordings--dating from past decades to the present day--have been personally selected by the artistic directors of Marlboro, esteemed pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode. The release of this series is in partnership with ArkivMusic, the first three albums available digitally August 2 and on CD August 30 (via Naxos Distribution). Further releases will come quarterly.

The first three releases in the "Live from the Marlboro Music Festival" series present a mix of veteran artists and on-the-rise young musicians. The first album combines warmhearted performances of Mozart's String Quintet K. 593, Beethoven's "Archduke" Piano Trio, and the slow movement of Schubert's Piano Trio D. 929, all featuring David Soyer, the late founding cellist of the Guarneri String Quartet, and the last two works with Mitsuko Uchida. The second album features a singular collection of vocal chamber music: Respighi's expansive Shelley setting Il Tramonto and Shostakovich's alternately touching and piquant Songs on Hebrew Folk Themes, as well as American composer Robert Cuckson's Der gayst funem shturem (The Spirit of the Storm), a 2004 setting of poems by Yiddish writer Binem Heller that mourn the loss of the Jews of Warsaw. The third recording pairs passionate, elegant takes on the string quartets of Debussy and Ravel, plus the latter composer's beautifully impressionistic Introduction et Allegro.

"There is something very special about the sense of community at Marlboro that's really touching and wonderful," says Goode. "It's because the musical experience and the personal experience come together, so it gets a sort of cumulative energy and warmth--and that's a lovely thing."

Uchida adds: "That's the one factor that is most important at Marlboro. We live together, we eat together, we make music together--and we breathe music. I travel so much during the season. . . Where else on earth are you with the same set of people for five weeks, six weeks, seven weeks? You don't have it in today's world, so this changes you."

According to ArkivMusic general manager Jon Feidner, the partnership between the Marlboro Recording Society and ArkivMusic is "a great opportunity to share the rare atmosphere of Marlboro with classical music lovers everywhere. You can really hear how special that warmth and intimacy is in these performances."

In addition to the launch of the Marlboro Recording Society Label, ArkivMusic has reissued over 20 recordings from Marlboro through its on-demand program, all from Sony Music, including four reissues this month which were previously only available on LP. For more info, you can visit their Web site at www.ArkivMusic.com/Marlboro.

--Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet Media

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa