Classical Music News of the Week, October 2, 2011

Orion Ensemble Performs "Classical Romance"

Chicago--"Classical Romance" entices chamber music fans when the nationally recognized and critically acclaimed Orion Ensemble performs Trios by Beethoven and Schubert November 20 at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, November 27 at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva and November 30 at Roosevelt University's Ganz Memorial Hall in Chicago.

The Program
"Classical Romance" features 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 Beethoven. All were written in Vienna within a 20-year period that increasingly saw hints of romanticism beginning to infiltrate Viennese classicism.

Orion's 2011-12 season
Orion's 2011-12 season continues in March "Celebrating Women Composers," with works by Stacy Garrop, Louise Farrenc, Phyllis Tate and Fanny Mendelsshon, and concludes in May with "All That Jazz!" featuring special guest pianist Miguel de la Cerna, who contributes a work commissioned for Orion on a program that includes a Fauré quartet and Dokshitser's arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for clarinet and piano.

In addition to its annual four-concert series in three areas, the Orion Ensemble 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.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

EMI Classics Announces Exclusive Recording Contract with Pianist HJ Lim
The complete Beethoven piano sonatas are to be first release under the new agreement in 2012.

September 20, 2011: EMI Classics is thrilled to announce that dynamic pianist HJ Lim has signed an exclusive recording contract with the label.  Her first project, under the new agreement, will be a spectacular recording of the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas. The sonatas, which have been curated by Lim into eight themes, will be released as four 2CD sets in January, April, July and October 2012. A complete box set with a bonus DVD will also be available from October 2012.

Born in South Korea, HJ Lim (Hyun-Jung), 24, emigrated on her own to study in France at the age of 12.  At 15, she became youngest person to ever earn Diplome d'Etudes Musicales Complete (Normandy). She continued her studies, and graduated with First Prize and Highest Distinction from the Conservatoire National de Rouen and the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris.  In 2007, she was awarded First Prize by unanimous decision at the FLAME International Piano Competition in Paris.

HJ, a Yamaha Exclusive Artist, first came to the world's attention when, in order for her family to be able to watch her perform whilst they were home in Korea, she uploaded a video of a recital to YouTube. This personal act, designed to bridge the geographic divide between her native and adopted homes, generated unprecedented interest and nearly half a million views.

On joining EMI Classics, HJ writes, "Having grown up with the recordings of Callas, Cortot, Cziffra, Samson François and the Beethoven sonatas of Schnabel, EMI has represented classical music paradise for me. I am thrilled to be entering this paradise."

Andrew Cornall, Vice President of A&R for EMI Classics, says, "It is rare to come across a young artist not only with real artistic maturity and depth of intellectual thought but also with a charismatic and virtuosic way of imparting both those talents. HJ Lim is one these artists and it will be a pleasure for EMI to travel her musical journeys with her."

Maggie O'Herlihy, HJ's manager at HarrisonParrott adds, "I am delighted HJ Lim has made EMI Classics her recording home. The range of projects she will tackle over the coming years with the support and vision of the EMI team will give this extraordinary artist the ideal platform on which to reach her ever growing number of followers worldwide."

For her first recording, HJ has taken on one of the most monumental challenges in classical music, the complete Beethoven piano sonatas.  Recorded on Yamaha's Flagship CFX concert grand piano in July and August 2011, Lim has grouped the sonatas into eight themes including The Eternal Feminine, Assertion of an Inflexible Personality, Resignation and Action, Extremes in Collision, and Destiny. She first performed the complete cycle over eight days in Paris during August 2010.

Of the Beethoven Sonatas, Lim writes: "A theoretical analysis of Beethoven's sonatas has been done many times; my own emphasizes rather the emotional, human, spiritual and psychological. This is why I view these sonatas by Beethoven as the most intense diary, in which genius expresses, or even illustrates, all the facets of a life that is sometimes sublimated, and idealized, and often deeply moving by its realism."

HJ Lim signed her contract at EMI's London headquarters on 24th August.  She was joined by EMI Classics' COO Amanda Cupples, Andrew Cornall, Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs Lorna Aizlewood, Vice President of Marketing Azhar Malik, Vice President of Finance Catherine Fairlamb, HarrisonParrott's Chairman and Joint Managing Director Jasper Parrott, Maggie O'Herlihy, HarrisonParrott Marketing and PR Manager Antonio Orlando and members of the EMI and HarrisonParrott teams.

--Andrew Ousley, EMI Classics

National Philharmonic President Kenneth A. Oldham Jr. Awarded Montgomery County Executive's Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Emerging Leader Award
North Bethesda, MD, September 27, 2011 – National Philharmonic at Strathmore is proud to announce that Philharmonic President Kenneth A. Oldham Jr. has been selected the winner of the 2011 Montgomery County Executive's Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Emerging Leader Award. Oldham is being recognized for his outstanding accomplishments and demonstration of exceptional leadership, innovative thinking and a commitment to advancing Montgomery County's arts and humanities. County Executive Ike Leggett and his wife Catherine will present the award on Monday, October 24, at 7 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. Awards will also be presented in the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Community, Education, Outstanding Artist/Scholar and Volunteer.

The County Executive's Awards are the most prestigious honors conferred by the Montgomery County on individual artists, organizations and patrons of the arts and humanities.  Now in its 10th year, the awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made a difference in our communities through the arts and humanities.

Oldham, who has led the National Philharmonic staff starting September 2002, has served as President since July 2005. Oldham's creation and implementation of business strategies have transformed the Philharmonic from a small $350,000 community ensemble into a $2.1 million regional powerhouse performing at the world-class Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. Under the direction of Mr. Oldham, the National Philharmonic's 2010-2011 season was highly successful.  The Philharmonic individual ticket sales increased by 20%, while subscriptions grew by 27%. National Philharmonic concerts were filled at an average of 86% of available capacity at the 2,000-seat Music Center at Strathmore.  In total, the National Philharmonic performed to audiences of 60,000 in the 2010-2011 season at Strathmore.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa