Classical Music News of the Week, February 12, 2012

Violinist Nurit Bar-Joseph to Perform Bach's Brandenburg Concertos with National Philharmonic at Strathmore

Violinist Nurit Bar-Joseph will perform  Bach's  Brandenburg Concertos No. 2, 3 and 4 with the National Philharmonic, under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert will also feature Bach's Magnificat in D Major with soprano Julie Keim, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór, tenor Robert Breault, baritone Christòpheren Nomura and the National Philharmonic Chorale. In addition, at the helm of the orchestra will be the Philharmonic's  concertmaster emeritus Jody Gatwood, who recently retired after twenty-five years with the orchestra.

Few musical works are as beloved and as often performed as the six Brandenburg Concertos of J. S. Bach, which display a light side of Bach's extraordinary genius. Each of the six celebrated concertos highlights a different instrumental combination. The appealing and popular Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 features four soloists: flute, violin, oboe and trumpet, with strings and basso continuo. In the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, Bach's unusual combination of a violin and a pair of flutes offers a range of effects from brilliant virtuosity to compelling sweetness. In 1723, Bach composed his towering masterpiece, the joyous and dramatic Magnificat, for soloists, chorus and orchestra. First performed on Christmas, the celebratory work conveys Mary's great joy and profound humility in response to the news that she had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.

Violinist Nurit Bar-Josef, who made her solo debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in February 2001, joined the NSO as concertmaster in September 2001. She previously spent three years as assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops and one year as assistant principal second violin with the Saint Louis Symphony. Ms. Bar-Josef received her bachelor's degree from the Curtis Institute, studying with Aaron Rosand, and was the recipient of the Fritz Kreisler Award for Violin upon graduation. She continued her studies at the Juilliard School with Robert Mann. Ms. Bar-Josef won first prize in several competitions, including the Boston Symphony Concerto Competition and Juilliard's Concerto Competition. In 1997, she made her New York debut with the Juilliard Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall. Other solo appearances include performances with the orchestras of Boston, Saint Louis, Boston Pops, Wellesley, International Symphony Orchestra (Israel), and Corpus Christi. A participant in the Taos and Tanglewood Music Center Festivals, Ms. Bar-Josef was concertmaster of the Music Center Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, winning the most outstanding performer award. An active chamber musician, she has performed piano quartets with André Previn at his Rising Stars Festival at Caramoor, and diverse repertoire at Tanglewood Music Center, and the festivals of Taos, Garth Newel (Virginia), Portland (Maine), Steamboat Springs (Colorado) and in Philadelphia, New York City, Israel, and Boston. As a chamber musician, Ms. Bar-Josef is a member of both the Walden Chamber Players and the Dryden Quartet, and is also a member of the new Kennedy Center Chamber Players ensemble.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the Concert Hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the All Bach concerts, please visit or call the Strathmore box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$81; 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. Photo of violinist Nurit Bar-Josef was taken by Rosalie O'Connor.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Ludovic Morlot Names Alexander Velinzon as the David & Amy Fulton Concertmaster
Music Director Ludovic Morlot announced the appointment of Alexander Velinzon as the Seattle Symphony's David & Amy Fulton Concertmaster. Velinzon currently serves as Assistant Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2005. He will begin his new role in Seattle in June 2012. Velinzon succeeds Maria Larionoff, who stepped down from the Seattle Symphony concertmaster role at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

"It is with immense pleasure that I welcome Alex as the new Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony," exclaimed Morlot. "I could not have dreamed of a better match for our orchestra. He will play such a vital role in bringing the Seattle Symphony to new and thrilling artistic heights as this magnificent Orchestra continues to develop a distinctive sound and identity. I have had the privilege of working with Alex at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and I extend a warm Seattle welcome to him and his family. I cannot wait to share many musical emotions with him on stage at Benaroya Hall. I am deeply grateful and wish to thank our Associate Concertmaster Emma McGrath, other members of the Orchestra and guest musicians for stepping in as concertmasters during my first season."

A violinist with an international reputation, Velinzon has performed with such conductors as James Levine, Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis and Michael Tilson Thomas. As a guest concertmaster in Europe and Asia, he has appeared with the London Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Germany's WDR Symphony Orchestra and NDR Radio Philharmonic, and has collaborated with Semyon Bychkov, Myung-Whun Chung, and Vladimir Jurowski, among other conductors.

In the sphere of chamber music, violinists Gil Shaham and Hilary Hahn, as well as cellist Wendy Warner, have numbered among Velinzon's partners. In Boston he is a long-standing member of the Walden Chamber Players, a co-founder of the LiveArts string quartet and has appeared with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. In New York, he performs frequently with the Jupiter Chamber Players. In 2010, Velinzon made his critically acclaimed debut at London's Wigmore Hall with the Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Alexander Velinzon began violin lessons at the age of six and went on to graduate from the Leningrad School for Gifted Children. After moving to the U.S. in 1990, he studied with renowned pedagogue Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. His success at the Heida Hermanns Competition in Connecticut, and at the Artist International Young Artists Auditions at the Tibor Varga Competition in Switzerland, led to his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. That occasion prompted Strad magazine to praise him as a "very musical and intensely serious" player.

Velinzon's New York concerto debut came in 1999, when he performed Paganini's Concerto No. 1 in D major with the Jupiter Symphony. He played at New York City Center as both soloist and concertmaster for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and has performed concertos with the Absolute Ensemble and Metamorphoses Orchestra in New York, the Chappaqua Symphony, the Rondo Chamber Orchestra (in both the United States and Venezuela), and in the Dominican Republic with the National Symphony of Santo Domingo.

--Kirschbaum 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