Classical News of the Week: July 17, 2011

Spanish Flair, Classical Romance, Women Composers, and "All That Jazz" on Tap for Orion Ensemble's 2011-2012 Season

CHICAGO—The Orion Ensemble, Chicago's nationally recognized and critically acclaimed chamber music ensemble, presents Chamber Treasures Meet Chicago Jazz, its 19th season of concerts, featuring Spanish compositions, a tribute to women composers, a jazz-focused program and more.

Orion will perform each of its four concert programs at venues spanning the Chicagoland area: Ganz Memorial Hall at Roosevelt University, where Orion is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (Chicago); the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall (Evanston); and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church (Geneva).

The season opens with "Spanish Flair," featuring two piano trios by Catalan composers and two additional early 20th century works. The program includes Trio in C Major for Violin, Cello and Piano (1926) by Gaspar Cassadó; Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1932) by Aram Khachaturian; Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (1920) by Igor Stravinsky; and Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 50 (1910) by Enrique Granados. Performances take place September 25 (Evanston), October 5 (Chicago) and October 9 (Geneva).

"Classical Romance" describes the season's second concert program, featuring three pieces for three instruments each: Trio in B-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11 by Ludwig van Beethoven; Trio in B-flat Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, D. 581 by Franz Schubert; and Trio in D Major ("Ghost") for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 70, No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Performances are November 20 (Evanston), November 27 (Geneva) and November 30 (Chicago).

In honor of Women's History Month, Orion will be "Celebrating Women Composers" in March, performing Silver Dagger for Violin, Cello and Piano (2009) by Stacy Garrop; Trio in E-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 44 by Louise Farrenc; Air and Variations for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (1957) by Phyllis Tate; and Trio in D Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 11 by Fanny Mendelssohn. Performances are March 4 (Geneva), March 11 (Evanston) and March 14 (Chicago).

Guest pianist Miguel de la Cerna contributes a work commissioned for Orion and performs with the Ensemble for the final program, "All That Jazz!", which also features Quartet in C Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 15 by Gabriel Fauré and Rhapsody in Blue for Clarinet and Piano (1924) by George Gershwin, arranged by Timofei Dokshitser. Performances are May 6 (Evanston), May 9 (Chicago) and May 13 (Geneva).

Also during the season, Orion will appear on the broadcast series "Live from WFMT" December 5, 2011 and March 12, 2012 and in the Chicago Cultural Center's Lunchbreak Series "Classical Mondays" October 31 and November 21, 2011. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its most recent CD is Twilight of the Romantics.

The Orion Ensemble performs each concert program during the 2011–12 season at three Chicago-area venues: Roosevelt University's Ganz Memorial Hall, 430 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays, October 5, November 30, March 14 and May 9 at 7:30 p.m.; the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston on Sundays, September 25, November 20, March 11 and May 6 at 7:30 p.m.; and Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Drive in Geneva on Sundays, October 9, November 27, March 4 and May 13 at 7 p.m. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; children 12 and younger are free. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a ten-percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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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