Classical Music News of the Week, January 6, 2013

Cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski to Perform Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme
with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore

Prizewinning cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski will perform Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme in a concert with The National Philharmonic on January 26 at 8 pm and January 27 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. The program, led by guest conductor Mirosaw Jacek Baszczyk, will also include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Witold Lutosawski’s Cello Concerto.

Mr. Skoraczewski commemorates the singular spirit of the 20th-century Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and Polish composer Witold  Lutosawski with performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Lutosawski’s Cello Concerto, written for Rostropovich. The Variations on a Rococo Theme was the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to writing a full concerto for cello and orchestra.

Lutosawski (1913 –1994) was one of the major European composers of the 20th century.  His single-movement Cello Orchestra, composed in 1970, is written in the avant-garde, post-serial style.

The final work on the program, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, reflects the gamut of human emotion, from tragedy to life-embracing exuberance.

About the Soloist:
Baltimore Symphony’s principal cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski has delighted audiences of many concert halls in America and Europe with his great artistic and technical command of the instrument. As a soloist he performed with numerous orchestras in the United States, including the Montgomery Symphony, Alexandria Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, Lancaster Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

As a chamber musician, Dariusz has appeared in many chamber music concert series including the Candlelight Series, Music at the Great Hall in Baltimore and the Barge Music Festival in New York City. In November of 2005, he gave his Carnegie Hall debut, which was sponsored by the La Gesse Foundation. The cellist is also a member of a critically acclaimed ensemble – the Monument Piano Trio. Dariusz is a laureate of various international competitions such as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Leonard Rose Competition in Washington D.C. and the Rostropovich Competition in Paris.

Dariusz began his musical education at the age of six and spent his school years in Warsaw, Poland where his teachers were Professor Z. Liebig and Professor A. Zielinski. He completed his higher education as a scholarship recipient at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and perfected his art under the supervision of world-renowned cellist Stephen Kates.

The soloist’s repertoire is extremely diverse and includes compositions from early Baroque to the present. His debut CD Cello Populus is a collection of solo pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries and includes works of Hindemith, Ligeti, Crumb, Penderecki and others.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Cal Performances Presents Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott at Zellerbach Hall, Cal Berkeley, Thursday, January 24 at 7 p.m.
"There is hardly any virtuoso of any instrument who is as complete, profound, passionate, and humane a musician as Ma" (Boston Globe). Perhaps the only household name in classical music, cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform in recital with longtime collaborator, pianist Kathyrn Stott, at Zellerbach Hall on Thursday, Jan 24 at 7:00 p.m. Stott, “an excellent soul mate for Ma” (New York Times), has performed with him for decades, both in recital and on recordings. This program is a testament to their exploration of wp music, regardless of instrument or tradition. In true form with Ma’s previous appearances at Berkeley, this performance is sold-out.

The night starts off with Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, which is based on several movements of his 1919 ballet, Pulcinella. They will next perform three pieces inspired by South America: Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Alma Brasileira (arr. Jorge Calandrelli), Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion (arr. by Kyoko Yamamoto) and Camargo Guarnieri’s Dansa Negra (arr. Calandrelli). The program’s repertoire moves back to Europe with the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s 7 Conciones Populares Españolas G. 40. Olivier Messiaen’s Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus, taken from the fifth movement of his Quatuor pour la fin du temps, follows. The concert will finish with Johannes Brahms’s Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108 for violin. Only the Stravinsky and Messiaen pieces were originally written for the cello, the rest of the works have either been adapted or arranged for Ma and Stott.

Stott first met Ma in 1978 when she “discovered a Chinese man in his underpants playing the cello” in her apartment after Ma had rented it without realizing it was shared. They have worked together ever since and have made several recordings, including the Grammy-winning Soul of Tango (Sony).

British pianist Kathryn Stott performs as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. She started playing the piano at the age of five and later studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and then the Royal College of Music with Kendall Taylor.  Stott first gained prominence by winning the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1978. She is known for her wide taste in music and has performed and recorded in English, French, contemporary and Latin genres. Stott has served as Artistic Director for several music festivals, including the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society (2008), and Guest Artistic Director of the chamber festival Incontri in Terra di Siena (2010, 2011). She received a prestigious Order of Arts and Letter by the French government for her successful direction of a music festival that celebrated the anniversary of Gabriel Fauré. In addition to Ma, Stott has long-term collaborations with Truls Mørk, Christian Poltera, Natalie Clein and Janine Jansen. More information can be found at

Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris in 1955 to Chinese parents and began studying the cello with his father at 4. One year later his family moved to New York so he could study at the Juilliard School with Leonard Rose. Ma graduated from Harvard University in 1976. He is known for maintaining a balance between his engagements as a recitalist, leading small ensembles, performing with premier orchestras and a prodigious recording output.  Ma created the Silk Road Project in 1998 to promote the study of cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route.  More than 60 works have been commissioned for the Silk Road Ensemble, which tours annually, including a recent performance presented by Cal Performances in 2011.

Ma has received numerous awards including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), Glenn Gould Prize (1999), National Medal of the Arts (2001), World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), the Kennedy Center Honors (2011).  He also serves as a UN Messenger of Peace. Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist and has released over 80 albums, and has won 16 Grammy Awards in six different categories.  His records often cross genres and he has collaborated with other music giants like Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Redman. His most recent album “The Goat Rodeo Session”, released in 2011, was made with Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan. This is the second performance of the Ma/Stott duo at Cal Performances, the first of which was in 2007. Ma currently plays on two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello and a 1712 “Davidoff” Stradivarius. More information can be found at

Ticket Information:
This performance is sold out. Tickets for Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott in recital on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $30.00—$175.00 and may become available due to last-minute returns. Tickets may be available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets. For more information about discounts, go to or call (510) 642-9988.

--Christina Kellogg, Cal Performances

Music Institute of Chicago Welcomes Brotherhood Chorale
Scholarship Students Join Chorale for 9th Annual FREE Martin Luther King Celebration, January 20.

The Music Institute of Chicago honors the extraordinary legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at its ninth annual celebration of the legendary civil rights leader, featuring the renowned Brotherhood Chorale of the Apostolic Church of God. This year’s program also will feature Music Institute of Chicago students who have received financial support through its William Warfield Memorial Scholarship Fund. This free concert takes place Sunday, January 20 at 5 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

The Brotherhood Chorale, a 180-member male choral group led by conductor Brian C. Rice, will again perform an electrifying program of repertoire offering traditional and contemporary gospel and jazz arrangements. This annual performance by the Brotherhood Chorale has become one of Chicago’s most inspiring annual tributes to Dr. King.

Music Institute William Warfield Scholarship recipients performing with the Chorale on the program include Jada Adamson-Tate (age 9, Skokie), piano student of Claire Neiweem; Nina Liverpool (age 9, Highland Park), piano student of Louise Chan; Hannah White* (age 12, Germantown, Wisc.), violin student of Hye-Sun Lee; Lucienne Williams (age 12, Chicago), viola student of Sarah Montzka; and Mira Williams* (age 14, Chicago), viola student of Marko Dreher. (The * indicates students in the Music Institute’s prestigious Academy for extraordinarily gifted pre-college musicians.) Music Institute President and CEO Mark George is composing a special work for these students to perform on the program. Additional Warfield Scholarship recipients (not performing on this program) include Braden Adamson-Tate (age 12, Skokie), trumpet student of Amy Larsen, and Adé Williams* (age 15, Chicago) violin student of Almita and Roland Vamos.

The William Warfield Memorial Scholarship Fund annually offers need-based financial assistance for minority students. Famed operatic baritone William Warfield was a longstanding member of the Music Institute’s board of trustees.

Admission is free; all contributions that evening benefit the William Warfield Memorial Scholarship Fund of the Music Institute of Chicago This concert is generously sponsored by Schaefer’s Wines, Foods & Spirits.

Brotherhood Chorale:
The nationally recognized Brotherhood Chorale was founded in Chicago in 1969 with less than 30 members. Under the guidance of its current and visionary director, Brian Rice, the Brotherhood Chorale has built an impressive repertoire and grown to approximately 180 members. In addition to performing every fourth Sunday for service, the choir sings outside the church and has been featured at the South Shore Cultural Center and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, among others.

Music Institute of Chicago:
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to become one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation. Offering musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute’s teachers and arts therapists reach more than 10,000 students and clients of all ages and experience levels at campuses in Evanston, Winnetka, Highland Park, Lincolnshire, Lake Forest and Downers Grove, as well as through its longstanding partnership with the Chicago Public Schools. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs in four distinct areas: the Community School, Academy, Institute for Therapy through the Arts, and Nichols Concert Hall.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Sunday, January 20 at 5 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, is free. For information visit or call 847.905.1500 ext. 108.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

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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