Classical Music News of the Week, August 12, 2012

Tony-Award Winning Alfie Boe Set for Extensive U.S. Fall Concert Tour

CNN “Piers Morgan Tonight” appearance in early August; Summer success with PBS hit “Alfie Live” and #1 Billboard classical crossover chart debut for Alfie, from the Decca label.

The UK platinum singing star Alfie Boe is slated for an extensive fall U.S. concert tour on the heels of his chart-topping album, Alfie, and successful PBS television special and DVD release “Alfie Live.” The Huffington Post raved that Alfie and PBS are “a match made in heaven.” The Tony-Award winning singer’s self-titled second album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover Chart in June, and features notable special guests Robert Plant and Nick Jonas. The album is a thoughtful collection of timeless pop songs and musical theatre favorites that showcases Alfie’s soaring tenor.

Alfie’s fall, seventeen-city tour kicks off in Dallas, TX on October 2nd and will make stops in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Boston, before wrapping on October 30 in Pittsburgh (select shows have already sold out; dates attached). Much like his PBS special, his live concerts will feature material from his new album as well as selections from his Decca debut, Bring Him Home. Alfie will also be making a special appearance on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” in early August around the Olympics; he recorded Queen’s “One Vision” especially for Team Great Britain’s participation in the games.

Another career highlight saw Boe joining Paul McCartney, Elton John and more A-list music stars for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in June. To watch his performance click here:

To watch Alfie’s video feature on click here:,32068,1661682609001_2115956,00.html          

Alfie Boe’s impressive resume also includes playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables 25th Anniversary at London’s 02 Arena, followed by a run of 6 months in the role on London’s West End and winning a Tony for his role in legendary director Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Broadway production of Puccini’s La Boheme. Luhrmann described Alfie as “absolutely extraordinary.” His record sales exceed 750,000 copies in the UK alone., paving the way for his autobiography which will be published there this fall. Promising to be an intimate account of Alfie’s life, the book covers his childhood growing up as the youngest of nine children to a family in the north of England, being discovered while working as a car mechanic, bringing his music to fans across the globe, and singing on Broadway and legendary opera houses all while developing his successful recording and touring career. More about Alfie Boe at and

--Olga Makrias, Decca Label Group

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 2012 U.S. Tour: Conductor Zubin Mehta and IPO Tour Four Cities with Pianist Yuja Wang
Gala at Carnegie Hall to feature special sacred music program with the New York premiere of Noam Sheriff’s Mechaye Hametim.

In the spirit of peace and camaraderie, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Zubin Mehta, returns to the United States in October 2012. Traveling with internationally renowned pianist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient Yuja Wang, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is slated for concerts in New York, Palm Desert, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, beginning with a gala event at Carnegie Hall co-chaired by Adrienne Arsht and Lauren and John Veronis and presented by American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO).

After the enthusiastic and heartfelt reception the Israel Philharmonic received at the 2012 Salzburg Festival in July (and at the urging of devoted friends and fans of the IPO), the Orchestra has opted to bring Arnold Schoenberg's Kol Nidre and Israeli composer Noam Sheriff's Mechaye Hametim (Revival of the Dead)—two works performed in Salzburg—to New York City for the Carnegie Hall gala on October 25 along with Grammy Award-winning baritone Thomas Hampson and The Collegiate Chorale. The Salzburg performance of these works on July 24 prompted The New York Times to state, "Abetted by Mr. Hampson's tour de force, in which he also served as narrator in the Schoenberg and spoke and sang in the Sheriff, the evening's performances were everywhere excellent...The concert was greeted warmly, even clamorously..." The concert at Carnegie Hall also features Yuja Wang performing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor. This performance marks the New York premiere of Sheriff's Mechaye Hametim.

The concerts in Palm Desert (October 28), Las Vegas (October 29) and Los Angeles (October 30) all feature Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D major, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor (with Yuja Wang) and Brahms's Symphony No. 1 in C minor (for the complete schedule, click here.) The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra acts as Cultural Ambassador for the State of Israel during this tour to the United States.

This tour comes at the beginning of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's 2012-2013 season (its 77th season), a year that will be rich in collaboration. Guest artists include musicians such as Boris Andrianov, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Kurt Masur, Murray Perahia, Kirill Petrenko, David Robertson, András Schiff, Anoushka Shankar, Pinchas Zukerman, and many others. Pianist Yuja Wang opens the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's 2012-2013 season in Tel-Aviv with a gala on October 4, performing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor.

Due to the efforts of the AFIPO and the generous support of donors worldwide, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returns to its home at Tel-Aviv's Heichal Hatarbut in March 2013 after extensive renovations. After a significant financial contribution by philanthropist Charles Bronfman, the Mann Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut) is to be renamed the "Charles R. Bronfman Auditorium." Since its inception in 1936, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (originally named the Palestine Orchestra) has been dedicated to presenting great classical music with the most distinguished and talented artists of every generation. An integral part of the international music scene, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra continues its tradition of enriching the lives of music-lovers across the globe.

Maestro Zubin Mehta, one of the world's great conductors, continues his role as a leader and friend of the IPO and the State of Israel. In addition to his title as Music Director for Life of the IPO, Mehta has held the post of Music Director for the Montreal Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bavarian State Opera and New York Philharmonic—for which, at 13 years, he remains the organization’s longest-serving Music Director, conducting over one thousand concerts. He was also made an Honorary Member of the New York Philharmonic, an homage formerly bestowed on Wagner, Liszt, Dvorák, Copland and Bernstein, among others.

Zubin Mehta has maintained a strong commitment to exposing today’s youth to classical music. He founded the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in his birthplace of Mumbai, where more than 300 children annually find access to Western Classical Music. The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv educates young talents in Israel and is closely related to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as is a project of teaching young Arab-Israelis in the cities of Shwaram and Nazareth, in conjunction with local teachers and members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Maestro Mehta has conducted over two thousand concerts as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, including multiple tours spanning five continents. In 2006, Zubin Mehta was recognized for his extraordinary artistic achievements as a Kennedy Center Honoree. In 2011, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and became a recipient of the Furtwängler Prize at Bonn's prestigious Beethovenfest for his "dedication both to music and social issues." Recently, Maestro Mehta conducted the NHK Symphony Orchestra in a benefit concert for the victims and survivors of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster.

--Patrick Gullo, 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 Jon 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 of The $ensible Sound magazine 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 simpleminded, 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 Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. 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 cell phone. 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.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

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