Classical Music News of the Week, December 9, 2012

Mastercard Performance Series at Weill Hall Continues in January and February with Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Pianist Kathryn Stott in Addition to Acclaimed Soprano Barbara Cook

November 28, 2012 – Located on the picturesque campus of Sonoma State University in the heart of California’s wine region, the MasterCard Performance Series at Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall at the Green Music Center continues in 2013 with world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott at 7 PM on January 26, 2012. Acclaimed soprano Barbara Cook takes the stage at Weill Hall at 8 PM on February 16.

Known throughout the world for his exceptional artistry, Yo-Yo Ma continually searches for new ways to communicate with audiences through his diverse and multi-faceted career as a soloist, chamber musician and ambassador. A recipient of classical music’s most prestigious awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize, the Glenn Gould Prize and the National Medal of the Arts, Yo-Yo Ma collaborates with many diverse artists and remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field. A native of the United Kingdom, Kathryn Stott is recognized internationally as one of Britain’s most versatile and engaging pianists. In demand as both a soloist and chamber musician, Ms. Stott is a highly sought after partner by many distinguished artists, and has been performing and recording with Yo-Yo Ma for nearly 30 years.  Their concert at Weill Hall is sold-out.

Hailed by The London Times as “the Greatest Theatrical Singer in concert at the moment,” Barbara Cook has delighted audiences around the world for more than 50 years as a concert and recording artist. After a hugely successful debut recital at Carnegie Hall in 1975, Ms. Cook has performed at major international venues throughout the world such as Avery Fisher Hall and the Albert Hall, in addition to more intimate settings such as New York’s Café Carlyle and Feinstein’s at the Regency. In January 2006, Ms. Cook made her solo concert debut at the Metropolitan Opera Company, making her the first female pop singer to be presented by the MET in the company’s 123 year history. Recently named as a 2011 Kennedy Center Honoree, Ms. Cook has received a number of awards including Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and New York Critics Circle. Ms. Cook’s has recorded numerous albums, including eight original cast albums, two Ben Bagley albums of songs by Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, and As of Today on the Columbia label, in addition to numerous DRG label recordings.

MasterCard Worldwide is the series presenting sponsor for Weill Hall at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. MasterCard’s generous contribution supports the annual MasterCard Performance Series, as well as a future outdoor pavilion for music and dance. Programming support is also provided by the Edward and Carolyn Stolman Fund, inaugural season lead underwriter; and Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, vocal series underwriters.

Tickets range from $35 - $90 and are available through the Green Music Center Box Office at 1-866-955-6040 or online at gmc.sonoma.edu.  For further information, please visit gmc.sonoma.edu or call 1-866-955-6040.

--Karen Ames Communications

Jazz Great Dave Brubeck Dies at 91
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, 91, died Wednesday from heart failure, his manager, Russell Gloyd, told CNN. Brubeck's heart stopped while he was en route to the hospital with his eldest son for a regular checkup, Gloyd said. His son became alarmed about his father and called 911, Gloyd said. "Paramedics came out and said, 'We just can't keep the heart going,' " Gloyd told CNN. Gloyd, who also was a producer with Brubeck, said the musician was rushed to Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he was declared dead.

According to his Web site, Brubeck was born into a musical family in Concord, California, and had two older brothers who were also professional musicians. As a teen, he began playing in local dance bands after his family moved to a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierra mountains.

Intent on pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, Brubeck worked his way through college as a pianist in jazz bands. He soon switched his major to music and went on to pursue a career, releasing music as part of the Dave Brubeck Trio in 1949. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 following a near fatal car crash. Songs such as "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Take Five" helped the jazz artist find crossover success in the pop world.

Designated a "living legend" by the Library of Congress, Brubeck was still actively pursuing his career in music. Gloyd said the pianist continued to practice every day and was contemplating recording a new song. But his longtime manager/publicist said he and the musician's family hope that Brubeck is also remembered for his political activism. "I don’t think people realize his commitment to civil rights and justice," Gloyd said. "At the height of his stardom, he canceled 23 out of 24 concerts in the South at Southern universities when they would not allow him to bring his black bass player."

President of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow called Brubeck an "iconic jazz and classical pianist." "Throughout his six decade-long career, his unique time signatures and distinct rhythms were highlights of his innovative style," Portnow continued. "As one of the prime architects of the sophisticated West Coast jazz sound, Brubeck showed that jazz could be artistically challenging yet accessible to large audiences. His recordings have received both commercial and critical success, and will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come. We have lost a great legend in our community, and our thoughts and condolences go to his family, friends and all those he inspired."

Brubeck would have celebrated his 92nd birthday on Thursday.

--CNN

Seattle Symphony Receives $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Support Its American Commissions and Premieres Project: World Premieres by Composers Elliott Carter and John Luther Adams
Grant is one of 832 Art Works grants totaling $23.3 million in funding nationwide.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that the Seattle Symphony is one of 832 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Seattle Symphony was recommended for a $25,000 grant to support its American Commissions and Premieres Project of recently commissioned and completed works by two American composers: Instances by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Elliott Carter and environmentally conscious John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean.

The Seattle Symphony’s American Commissions and Premieres Project expands the symphonic/orchestral repertoire with new works by American composers commissioned and premiered by the Orchestra. These premieres further the Orchestra’s commitment to living composers and the presentation of contemporary music undertaken by the Seattle Symphony in its second season with Music Director Ludovic Morlot. Instances, Carter’s last completed orchestral piece, will premiere on February 7, 9 and 10, 2013, and Adams’s Become Ocean will premiere on June 20, 22 and 23, 2013 at Benaroya Hall.

"I'm proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including American Commissions and Premieres," said Chairman Landesman. "These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences and exemplary education programs."

“We greatly thank the NEA for its support of the American Commissions and Premieres project,” stated Seattle Symphony Executive Director Simon Woods. “Ludovic Morlot has invigorated the Orchestra and audiences with new artistic ideas and boundless energy. Carter’s Instances was written as a personal tribute to Ludovic, and John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean is his first major composition for symphony orchestra. We are deeply saddened that Mr. Carter’s recent death preceded the world premiere of his work in February.”

In March 2012 the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 recommended NEA grants total $22.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

About the Seattle Symphony:
Seattle Symphony is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard live from September through July by more than 315,000 people. Its pioneering education and community engagement programs reach over 100,000 children and adults each year. The Orchestra has completed more than 140 recordings, and has received 12 Grammy nominations, two Emmy awards and numerous other accolades. The Seattle Symphony performs in one of the world’s finest concert venues — the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall — in downtown Seattle.  For more information on the Seattle Symphony, visit www.seattlesymphony.org.

--Kirshbaum, Demler & Associates

DiCapo Opera Theatre & Opera Modern Presents World Premiere of Marrying Mozart in Four Performances Beginning Thursday, December 13
Dicapo Opera Theatre and Opera Moderne will present the world premiere of Marrying Mozart with four performances beginning Thursday, December 13, 2012. Subsequent presentations take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 14, 15 & 16, 2012. Thursday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and the final performance on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Marrying Mozart, a play by Michael Capasso is adapted from Stephanie Cowell's best-selling novel and features performances of the music of W.A. Mozart. Marrying Mozart is an appealing portrait of the young Mozart in Vienna, struggling to find work as a composer and encountering the delightful Weber sisters, four young women who engage his passion, his music, and his heart.

A Co-Production with Opera Moderne, all performances are at Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76th Street at Lexington Avenue. Tickets, at $50, are available by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or by visiting the Dicapo Web site at www.dicapo.com.

Production Staff:
Directed by Michael Capasso
Music Director Pacien Mazzagatti
Set design John Farrell
Costume Design Emily Parman
Lighting Design Susan Roth

Cast:
Mozart: Ian Harkins
Fridolin Weber & Orsini-Rosenberg/Archbishop: Greg Horton
Cecelia Weber: Roxann Kraemer
Josepha Weber: Lauren Hoffmeier
Aloysia Weber: Adriana Lee
Constanze Weber: Christian Sineath
Sophie Weber: Christina Faicco
Leutgeb, Opera Impresario & Schantz: Matt Ebling
Theobald, Thorwart & Herr Mozart: Daniel Quintana
Operatic quartet: Julia Lima, Raquel Suarez, Anthony Webb and Marques Hollie

--DOTProduction

Violinist Stefan Jackiw and Violist Victoria Chiang Perform with National Philharmonic in Concert Showcasing the Viola at Strathmore
Violinist Stefan Jackiw and violist Victoria Chiang will perform Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in a concert showcasing the rich sound of the viola on January 5 at 8 pm and January 6 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore with the National Philharmonic. The program, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewksi, will also include Telemann’s Concerto for Viola and Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 9.

Violist Victoria Chiang begins the concert with Telemann’s Concerto for Viola, bringing her “deep and communicative sound” (Baltimore Sun) to one of the composer’s most famous works. This four-movement piece is the first known concerto for viola and was written around 1716–1721. Next Mendelssohn expands the role of the viola in the String Symphony No. 9, a brilliant and animated piece influenced by the classicist Haydn, but demonstrating a more modern and intimate style. The concert culminates with Mozart’s masterful Sinfonia Concertante, featuring charming exchanges between Ms. Chiang, Mr. Jackiw and the orchestra.

About the Soloists:
Violinist Stefan Jackiw is recognized as one of his generation’s most significant artists, captivating audiences with playing that combines poetry and purity with an impeccable

Technique. Hailed for “talent that’s off the scale” (The Washington Post), Jackiw has appeared with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco orchestras, among others, and he has collaborated with such renowned conductors as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Ludovic Morlot, Marin Alsop, Andrew Davis and Yuri Temirkanov.

In the 2012/13 season, Jackiw's performances include appearances with the Detroit Symphony under James Gaffigan, Royal Philharmonic under Charles Dutoit, Netherlands Philharmonic under Louie Langree, and Melbourne Symphony under Sir Andrew Davis. He will also appear with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and The Hague Philharmonic, and perform the South American premiere of a concerto by Osvaldo Golijov with the Sao Paolo Symphony and Marin Alsop.

Jackiw’s engagements abroad have included appearances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Seoul Philharmonic, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. On disc, Jackiw has received great acclaim for his album of the Brahms Violin Sonatas (Sony), which Fanfare proclaimed, “now the recording of Brahms’s violin sonatas to have.”

Born in 1985 to physicist parents of Korean and German descent, Stefan Jackiw began playing the violin at the age of four. A graduate of Harvard University and New England Conservatory, he lives in New York City.

Violist Victoria Chiang is an artist-faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she serves as coordinator of the Viola Department. Her most recent recording of the viola concertos of Stamitz and Hoffmeister was released for Naxos to critical acclaim. Career highlights include appearances with the National Philharmonic, Romanian State Philharmonics of Constantsa and Tirgu Muresh, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the National Gallery Orchestra in Washington, DC. Ms. Chiang has appeared as guest artist with the Guarneri, Takács, Tokyo, American, Arianna and Pro Arte string quartets and is a founding member of the Aspen String Trio, an internationally touring string trio, recently appointed ensemble in residence at the University of Baltimore. Ms. Chiang spends her summers at the Aspen Music Festival as well as other music festivals.

About the Conductor:
Piotr Gajewski is widely credited with building The National Philharmonic to its present status as one of the most respected ensembles of its kind in the region. The Washington Post recognizes him as an "immensely talented and insightful conductor,” whose "standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable." In addition to his appearances with the National Philharmonic, Maestro Gajewski is much in demand as a guest conductor. In recent years, he has appeared with most of the major orchestras in his native Poland, as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in England, the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic, the Okanagan Symphony in Canada and numerous orchestras in the United States.

Gajewski attended Carleton College and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he earned a B.M. and M.M. in Orchestral Conducting. Upon completing his formal education, he continued refining his conducting skills at the 1983 Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, where he was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship. His teachers there included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier and Maurice Abravanel.

Gajewski is also a winner of many prizes and awards, among them a prize at New York's prestigious Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and, in 2006, Montgomery County's Comcast Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Achievement Award.

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 National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, DC area.

As the Music Center at Strathmore’s ensemble-in-residence, 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, such as the Summer Strings and Choral Institutes. Students accepted into the Summer String Institutes study privately with National Philharmonic musicians, participate in coached chamber music and play in an orchestra conducted by Maestro Gajewski and Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau. For more information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org.

A free lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on January 5 and at 1:45 pm on January 6 in the Concert Hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to the Voice of the Viola concert on January 5 at 8pm and January 6 at 3pm at Strathmore, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore ticket 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. Parking is free.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmoni

Emerson String Quartet’s Performance at Carnegie Hall with Pianist Yefim Bronfman Rescheduled for January 7, 2013
Concert also includes violinist Paul Neubauer and cellist Colin Carr

Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the Emerson String Quartet's Carnegie Hall appearance with internationally acclaimed pianist Yefim Bronfman, originally scheduled for November 6, has been rescheduled for Monday, January 7, 2013. The Quartet will perform select Brahms works for three different instrumentations: string quartet, string sextet and piano quintet. This performance marks the first of two Carnegie Hall appearances the Emerson String Quartet makes in the 2012-2013 season—the second being part of Renée Fleming's Perspectives series in May.

Johannes Brahms reportedly destroyed as many as 20 string quartets before the Op. 51 quartets were published in 1873. Even with only three surviving string quartets, Brahms's contribution to chamber music was substantial. The second quartet (in A minor) from Op. 51 appears on the program, along with the composer's String Sextet No. 2, composed in 1864–1865. Longtime Emerson collaborators Paul Neubauer and Colin Carr fill out the instrumentation (viola and cello, respectively) for this work. The final work on the program, Brahms's Piano Quintet, Op. 34, saw a varied instrumentation throughout its development: it began as a string quintet with two cellos in 1862 and was later recast as a two-piano sonata—the piano quintet form was published in 1865. Celebrated pianist Yefim Bronfman joins the Quartet for this final piece.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Emerson String Quartet
Carnegie Hall
57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York City


--Patrick Gullo, Kirschbaum Demler & Associates

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

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

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa