Classical Music News of the Week, October 21, 2012

Pianist Nareh Arghamanyan Casts a Spell Over the Northeast Corridor This Fall, Including Her Highly Anticipated Performance at Lincoln Center October 28th

After wowing audiences across Europe last season, the powerful and poetic young pianist Nareh Arghamanyan sets her sights on the U.S. this fall. Arghamanyan comes to New York on October 28th at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street) at 11:00 a.m.

Nareh Arghamanyan
The youngest pianist ever admitted to the University for Music and Performing Arts of Vienna and winner of the 2008 Montreal International Piano Competition, she has been consistently praised by the global press for her technically exhilarating and deeply soulful performances of the major Romantic piano repertoire. The American Record Guide calls her a “major, major, major talent.”

American fans of her Rachmaninoff recital, released in April 2012 by Dutch label Pentatone Records, will have a chance to experience her signature blend of “technical bravura, singing tone, and poetic expression” (La Scena Musicale) in person.

Her ambitious and immensely satisfying program features J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C minor (BWV 826), Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke (Op. 12) and a healthy dose of Super Audio CD Rachmaninoff, including selections from Morceaux des fantaisie (Op. 3) and Etudes de tableaux (Op. 33), plus a complete performance of the composer’s savagely difficult Variations on a Theme by Corelli in Philadelphia. Of her Rachmaninoff recording, Gramophone’s Geoffrey Norris writes that Arghamanyan “clearly experiences Rachmaninoff’s music intensely.” The Independent called her playing “compulsive, emotional yet remarkably  ‘complete’ for such a young musician – sensitive, unaffected, genuine.’’ Her deep connection to this repertoire is unsurprising considering her early introduction to the piano, which was as emotionally powerful as it was peculiar. When a devastating earthquake hit her homeland of Armenia in 1989 (the year she was born), electricity and water were knocked out for the next five years. One night, when Nareh was 3 ½ years old, her mother used the piano as a “toy” to placate her stir-crazy daughter. Nareh began experimenting on the keyboard by candlelight for hours on end, with the sound of the piano becoming her greatest comfort in that time of darkness. Her parents signed her up for music school the next day!

After a stunning New York debut at the Frick Collection in 2010, Nareh’s return to New York City on October 28 to make her Lincoln Center debut at the popular Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts series has received considerable buzz, and tickets are nearly sold out. The recitals presented by the Gardner Museum in Boston and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society are in equally intimate venues, allowing audiences a close-up view of Nareh’s considerable star quality. For fans and curious music lovers that are not able to catch one of Nareh’s performances this October, a new recording of Liszt concertos from Pentatone comes to the rescue. If Rachmaninoff allows her to tap into music’s transcendent, emotional core, the two Liszt concertos stretch both her technical and interpretative abilities, demonstrating her versatility and sensitivity to tone and style. On the recording, released in the U.S. on October 30th, she performs Liszt’s epic Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, as well as Totentanz (Dance of Death, paraphrase on “Dies irae”) and Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Tunes with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Alain Altinoglu.

Fall 2012 U.S. Tour Dates:
Friday, October 12 and Saturday, October 13, 8pm
Columbus, OH; Ohio Theatre
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-minor (Op. 23) with the Columbus Symphony; Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Conductor
Tickets $25–$65

Sunday, October 21, 1:30 PM
Tickets $12–$27
Boston; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Recital featuring music by Bach, Schumann and Rachmaninoff
Tickets $12–$27

Wednesday, October 24, 8pm
Philadelphia; American Philosophical Society
Recital presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Featuring music by Bach, Schumann and Rachmaninoff
Tickets $24

Sunday, October 28, 11am
New York City; Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
Presented by Lincoln Center Great Performers’ Sunday Morning Coffee
Tickets $22

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Music Institute Presents Acclaimed Duo WarnerNuzova Nov. 17
The Music Institute of Chicago presents esteemed performers and ensemble-in-residence WarnerNuzova Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

World-renowned American cellist Wendy Warner and eminent Russian pianist Irina Nuzova have earned critical acclaim for their riveting performances. The performers’ contrasting cultures and traditions are at the core of the energy and insight of their interpretations. Their Nichols Concert Hall program includes two works by Beethoven-- Variations on a Theme from Handel, Judas Maccabeus, and Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69--as well as Leo Janacek’s Pohádka and Sergei Prokofiev’s Cello/Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 119.

Moscow-born Irina Nuzova studied at Juilliard following rigorous training in Russia, while American Wendy Warner earned her renown as a soloist at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia under the baton and tutelage of the great Rostropovich. Warner and Nuzova first came together in 2008 out of a shared interest in performing canonical works that feature equal cello and piano parts, as well as commissioning unique arrangements and new music. As homage to their respective backgrounds, the women favor Russian and American repertoire, exploring the commonalities and “dissonances” between the two cultural heritages.

Nichols Concert Hall:
The 2012–13 season marks the 10th anniversary of Nichols Concert Hall, originally designed by noted architect Solon S. Beman as the architecturally and acoustically magnificent First Church of Christ, Scientist, located at 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, in 1912 (celebrating its centennial). Restored in 2003, the building has become Nichols Concert Hall, a state-of-the-art, 550-seat performance space and music education destination, which annually reaches approximately 15,000 people and hosts a world-class chamber music series, workshops and master classes, student recitals, and special events.

Other highlights of the Music Institute’s 10th anniversary season at Nichols include a Billy Strayhorn festival featuring jazz great Terell Stafford in late October, the internationally acclaimed Pacifica Quartet in February, and pianist Sergei Babayan in April. Noteworthy annual events include Family Concerts in December and March; the Martin Luther King, Jr. concert with the Brotherhood Chorale in January; the Four Score Festival of contemporary music in March; and the third annual Emilio del Rosario Distinguished Alumni Concert, this year featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle in May.

WarnerNuzova performs Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available online or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. For more information visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communication

The National Philharmonic Wins American Prize Award in Orchestral Performance
The National Philharmonic, a Montgomery County-based ensemble in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore, has been named the winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance – Professional Division 2012.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions providing professional adjudication and recognition for the best recorded performances of music by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by the Hat City Music Theater Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, the American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually. The American Prize competitions are open to all U.S. orchestras.

The National Philharmonic was also the 2010 and 2011 winner of the Washington Area Music Association’s WAMMIE award for top-ranked Classical Orchestral Ensemble.  WAMMIES are awarded each February and the 2012 award will be announced in January 2013.

About the National Philharmonic:
Led by dynamic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, the National Philharmonic is known for performances that are “powerful,” impeccable” and “thrilling”(The Washington Post). The Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17 under the All Kids, All Free, All the Time program, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, DC area.

In resident at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

The National Philharmonic also offers exceptional and unique education programs. Each year, in partnership with Strathmore and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Philharmonic performs for nearly 20,000 MCPS 2nd and 5th graders. Throughout the year, the Philharmonic offers master classes in which talented young musicians are mentored by critically acclaimed guest artists. All National Philharmonic concerts are preceded by free pre-concert lectures.  In addition, each summer the National Philharmonic’s String and Choral Institutes offer talented and aspiring middle and high school musicians an intensive week of mentoring, coaching, master classes and individual lessons.

For more information, visit

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

The Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (F.A.Y.M.) Needs Your Support
The continued success of FAYM programs depends on donations from caring and generous supporters. FAYM is a registered 501(c)(3) Non-profit Charitable Organization (EIN Number 26-1472871), and your donation is tax deductible.

Visit GuideStar to see what others are saying about FAYM:

FAYM operates to maximize each contributed dollar. There is no office rent, utility costs, or administrative salaries. All accounting and legal services are generously contributed pro bono. Stipends are given our professional instructors who commit their time for below current rates. That means that your donation, small or large, will reach the intended target in the form of Scholarships and cost-free Instructional Programs for Young Musicians.

For information about establishing a Named Scholarship within the Foundation or to inquire about creating an Estate Gift, please contact the Trustee, Harold Weller, at or visit the Web site at or

--Harold Weller, FAYM

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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