Classical Music News of the Week, June 16, 2013

Chicago Duo Piano Festival Celebrates 25 Years July 12-21, the Annual Event Featuring Four Concerts Open to the Public

The Music Institute of Chicago’s annual Chicago Duo Piano Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary July 12–21 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, in Evanston. In addition to offering students coaching, lectures, master classes, and recitals, the Festival includes four public performances at Nichols Concert Hall featuring special guest Ukrainian piano duo Olga and Yuri Sherbakov in their Chicago debut, festival Founders/Directors Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, and Music Institute piano faculty, all performing duo piano repertoire.

Public performances
Gala Opening Concert—Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Duo Piano Festival Founders/Directors and Music Institute faculty piano duo in residence Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem perform a program including Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, along with works by Schubert and Ravel.

Faculty Recital—Sunday, July 14 at 4 p.m.
The program includes Music Institute faculty and guest artists Mio Isoda and Matthew Hagle performing Debussy’s En blanc et noir, Xiaomin Liang and Jue He playing a two-piano arrangement of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, and Andrea Swann and Fiona Queen performing Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

Faculty Extravaganza Concert—Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
In this popular event, members of the Music Institute faculty offer a varied selection of four-hand and two-piano repertoire. Performers include Maya Brodotskaya and Irene Faliks, Inah Chiu and Sung Hoon Mo, Alexander Djordjevic and Mark George, Elaine Felder and Milana Pavchinskaya, Mio Isoda and Matthew Hagle, Katherine Lee and Soo Young Lee, and Xiaomin Liang and Jue He.

Guest Recital: Olga and Yuri Sherbakov (Oleyura Duo)—Friday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Olga and Yuri Sherbakov (Oleyura Duo), a brilliant wife and husband duo from Odessa, Ukraine, making their Chicago debut, are 1st prize winners at the Rome International Competition for Piano Duos in both two piano and piano, four hands categories. They have been featured at the San Francisco International Festival, The First International Piano Duo Festival in Israel, Internazionales Festival Deutsche Musik, Festival of Greek Culture, Festival Musicale delle Nazioni, and Saint-Petersburg Piano Duo Festival. They have performed in prestigious halls in Kiev, Jerusalem, Rome, Moscow, Venice, St. Petersburg, Oslo, and Tel-Aviv and have appeared as guest soloists with The Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra, The Israel Chamber Orchestra, The Crimean Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Norwegian National Opera. They are professors at Odessa State Academy of Music. They teach master classes in Ukraine and abroad. They are founders and artistic directors of the International Piano Duo and Chamber Music Festivals “Crimea Dialogues” and “Odessa Dialogues.” They have performed frequently as guests and soloists with the Odessa Philharmonic Society.

For the Chicago Duo Piano Festival, Olga and Yuri Sherbakov perform works by Ukrainian and Russian composers, including Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos.

Chicago Duo Piano Festival
Called a “duo piano mecca” by Pioneer Press, the Chicago Duo Piano Festival was founded in 1988 by Music Institute of Chicago faculty members Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem. Its mission is to foster a deeper interest in the repertoire, performance, and teaching of music for piano, four hands and two pianos, in a fun and supportive atmosphere. The Festival offers coaching, master classes, concerts with special guest artists, and student recitals for students age 12 through adult. Registration details and a schedule are available at Fees are $495 for full participants and $265 for auditors. Early registrants receive greater consideration for repertoire requests. The enrollment deadline is May 28, 2013.

The Chicago Duo Piano Festival concerts take place July 12, 16, and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and July 14 at 4 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Tickets for each concert are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students and are available at or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. For even more information:

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

PARMA Music Festival August 15-17 in Portsmouth, NH
PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the 2013 PARMA Music Festival on August 15-17, 2013 in Portsmouth, New Hamphire, featuring Grammy-winning clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman, marimba soloist Mika Stoltzman, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the PARMA Orchestra with conductor John Page, and many more. The Festival will also serve as the official host for the 2013 Region 1 Conference of the Society of Composers Incorporated (SCI), one of the largest composer-service organizations in the country.

Daytime and evening performances, listening parties, and panels will be held at multiple venues in Portsmouth over the three days, highlighted by a closing concert event at The Music Hall on Saturday, August 17 featuring the world premieres of “Elegy For Clarinet & Orchestra” (1949) by Lukas Foss with Richard Stoltzman and the PSO, and “Streams” (2010) by Martin Schlumpf with David Taylor, Matthias Müller, and the PARMA Orchestra. Both orchestras will be conducted by Mr. Page.

“If you’ve got a tux, leave it at home – and if you don’t, well that’s perfect, because you’ll be all set,” says PARMA Recordings CEO Bob Lord. “This isn’t about a scene, or a ‘seen-and-be-seen’ for that matter, this is all about the music itself. PARMA’s work encompasses an extraordinarily wide cross-section of styles and presentations, and you’ll hear and see this diversity and eclecticism throughout the Festival.”

A full list of events featuring local, national, and international artists spanning the genres of classical, jazz, rock, and more will be announced in the spring.  You can find more information about PARMA Recordings and events here:

--Rory Cooper, PARMA Recordings

Woodstock Mozart Festival Presents 27th Season July 27-August 11; Bartók, Haydn, Mozart, Stravinsky and More on Three Programs
Three lively concert programs make up the Woodstock Mozart Festival’s 27th season July 27–August 11, 2013 at the Woodstock Opera House. Single tickets are on sale now.

The program lineup is as follows:

July 27 and 28: San Francisco Symphony Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera and award-winning pianist Vassily Primakov:

Bartók’s Rumanian Dances are the result of the composer’s exploration and collection of folk music from the mountain areas of central Europe, particularly Transylvania in Hungary.

Mozart composed his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G Major, K. 453, No. 17, for his talented pupil Barbara Ployer; the piece was appealing to the general listener of the day, yet filled with subtle interactions that demanded an extremely sensitive interpreter.

Stravinsky’s Concerto in E Flat “Dumbarton Oaks,” the last work he composed completely in Europe, was a commission to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss and derived inspiration from Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 85 in B-flat Major “La Reine” is one of the composer’s “Paris” symphonies and gained its nickname “The Queen” because Marie Antoinette enjoyed it after recognizing a tune from her Viennese childhood in its second movement.

August 3 and 4: Festival principal cellist Nazar Dzhuryn; French saxophonist and two-time Echo Klassique Award (European Grammy) Winner Daniel Gauthier, with conductor Igor Gruppman:

Mozart’s Symphony No. 17 in G Major, K. 129 is a charming three-movement Salzburg symphony scored for pairs of oboes and horns with strings.

Haydn’s Concerto in C Major for Violoncello and Orchestra, H. VIIb:1 was missing for some time and is thought to be perhaps his first cello concerto.

Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, an opera that brought him worldwide popularity, is the most famous of the one-act verismo (realism) operas of the late 19th century.

Ibert, composer of Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, often seasoned his blend of Impressionism and neo-Classicism with delightfully humorous touches.

Bizet’s Adagietto from the Incidental Music to L’Arlesienne, a melodrama by Alphonse Daudet, enhanced the dramatic action effectively.

Schulhoff, a Czech composer and pianist of German ancestry who wrote Hot-Sonate for Alto Saxophone, was one of a group of composers suppressed during the Nazi regime; he became interested in American jazz and rough-cut dance forms as a way of lampooning elitist music.

Iturralde, a noted jazz performer and orchestral soloist in Madrid, wrote Pequeña Czarda for solo saxophone.

August 10 and 11: Grammy-winning violinist Igor Gruppman, conductor, and violist Vesna Gruppman:

Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major for Strings, K. 138 is one of three such works that did not adhere to the traditional format or style of a divertimento and are more like symphonies for only strings.
Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp Minor “Farewell” is a product of his sturm und drang (storm and stress) period (1768–72), when he went beyond the usual bounds of classic reserve to exhibit more turbulent passions.

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364 (K. 320d) for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, of somewhat mysterious origins, was his last work combining symphony and concerto for multiple soloists and his only solo use of the viola.

Tickets and information:
The 2013 Woodstock Mozart Festival takes place July 27–August 11, Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren Street, Woodstock. Pre-concert introductions take place one hour before each of the performances. Tickets are $30–52, $25 for students, per program and are available through the Woodstock Opera House Box Office at 815-338-5300 or at For more information about the Festival, visit

--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 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