Classical Music News of the Week, July 28, 2013

The Orion Ensemble Opens 21st Season with “Celebrating Brahms”

Guest horn Gregory Flint also performs in Geneva (Sep. 8), Chicago (Sep. 11), and Evanston (Sep. 22).

Johannes Brahms is the focus of the 2013-14 season opener of The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. These performances include debuts at two venues--September 8 at First Baptist Church of Geneva and September 11 at the Concert Hall at the Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue--as well as a return to Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, September 22.

Joining Orion is guest horn Gregory Flint, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet, Tower Brass of Chicago and Fulcrum Point Brass Quintet.

The Program:
“Celebrating Brahms” features two contrasting trios by the early 19th century German composer, written more than 25 years apart. Both reveal the composer’s emotional depth and intensity, as well as his superb musical craftsmanship and understanding of the varied instruments he used in combination.

In the Trio in E-Flat Major for Horn, Violin and Piano, Op. 40, Brahms honors his mother, who passed away shortly before he composed this work, as well as his father, with the use of his instrument, the horn. Other than the hauntingly beautiful Elegie, the movements have a youthful energy; the high sounds of the violin and horn, the characteristic folk and hunting-call motives associated with the horn and the rhythmic play between the instruments contribute to that aesthetic.

Brahms wrote the Trio in A Minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114, after he had retired from composing. However, he was so moved after hearing clarinetist Richard Mühfeld he began to work on this trio. He juxtaposes themes in ways that sound inevitable, as are the imaginative combinations of sounds from the three instruments.

Also on the program is the edgy Café Music for Violin, Cello and Piano (1986) by Paul Schoenfield. The music of this Jewish American composer and pianist clearly shows his keen interest in jazz and the folk music of many cultures, particularly his Jewish roots. About Café Music he said, "My intention was to write a kind of high-class dinner music--music that could be played at a restaurant, but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall. Early 20th century American, Viennese, light classical, Gypsy and Broadway styles are all represented,” as well as a Hasidic melody.

Orion’s 2013–14 season:
Orion’s “Musical Travels” season continues with a series of Beethoven Trios, one on each of the three remaining programs, which include “Danube Destinations” in October and November, featuring guest violist Stephen Boe and other works by Hindemith and Mozart; “Sounds of Russia” in March, featuring guest pianist Sebastian Huydts, violist Stephen Boe, a guest narrator from the Chicago High School for the Arts and other works by Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff; and “Czech and American Romance” in May and June, featuring violist Stephen Boe and other works by Amon, Gershwin and Dvorak.

In addition to its annual four-concert series in three areas, Orion appears on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” in November 2013 (date TBD) and on March 24, 2014. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its most recent CD is Twilight of the Romantics.

Performance and ticket information:
The Orion Ensemble’s “Celebrating Brahms” concert program takes place Sunday, September 8 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, September 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, September 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit http://orionensemble.org

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

The Second Season of The Salomé Music Festival at The Hamptons
Violist David Aaron Carpenter to star in Salome Chamber Orchestra’s returning festival, with a Gala Opening Concert to benefit Nova’s Ark Project and a free concert, “Music of the Jewish Diaspora,” at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons.

Straight from opening the Yahoo! “On the Road” concert series with singer/songwriter John Legend, a European tour, as well as its 2012/13 residency at New York’s Metropolitan Music of Art, the Salomé Chamber Orchestra returns to the Hamptons for the festival it inaugurated last year. The Salome Music Festival (August 23-25) will present accessible classical music in various venues around the famous Hamptons region of Long Island.

The orchestra will be led by international viola soloist David Aaron Carpenter, described as “The hottest violist of the 21st century” by influential music journalist Norman Lebrecht, and as “stunningly talented” by the New Yorker. Carpenter and the orchestras will perform at the prestigious Nova’s Ark Project and at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons.

The Gala Opening concert at Nova’s Ark Project’s Castle Barns on August 23rd (7pm) will explore “Music Inspired by Nature” with works of Vivaldi, Paganini, Piazzolla, and Schubert, as well as works recently commissioned for Salomé. The same venue on Sunday, August 25th at 3pm, will see a Jacques Offenbach world premiere, with his one-act operetta, The Babysitter, perfect for families with young children and Offenbach fans alike (some of course, may be both). Salomé will perform the comic opera with members of Divaria Productions, with dialogue in English and arias sung in French. Tickets to both concerts are $20, with children under 12 free on Sunday, and both concerts will conclude with a post-concert reception!  Both concerts will benefit The Ark Project and Terra Nova Foundation, a 95-acre preserve consisting of sculpture fields, galleries, performance spaces and workshops founded by the Romanian sculptor Nova Mihai Popa.

On 24th August at 8PM, a free “Music of the Jewish Diaspora” concert will present music of Jewish composers at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. David Aaron Carpenter and Salomé will perform works by Gershwin, Kreisler, Mendelssohn, composer-in-residence Alexey Shor and Klezmer selections by Ljova. The concert is free and open to the public.

Tickets for the Salomé Music Festival can be purchased via Salome’s website: www.salomechamber.org/concerts.

--Inverne Price

PAAIA Brings World Premiere of The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite to San Francisco
The San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra will perform an exclusive one-night world premiere of a modern symphonic suite in celebration of the legacy of Cyrus the Great of Persia: The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite: From Birth to the Proclamation of Human Rights.

August 10, 2013, 7 p.m.
Nob Hill Masonic Center
San Francisco, CA

The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is proud to announce the world premiere of The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite: From Birth to the Proclamation of Human Rights for a one night only performance on August 10, 2013.

Composed and conducted by Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian and performed by the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra—a specially assembled 77-piece orchestra—the symphonic suite will feature performances by soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai, pianist Tara Kamangar, with narration performed by Houshang Touzie. The San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of the best musicians from the Bay Area’s most elite performing institutions including symphony, opera, and ballet organizations.

The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite provides the listener with a musical portrait of King Cyrus (576-530 BC), the first Achaemenid Emperor of Persia. Often referred to as Cyrus the Great for his political and diplomatic achievements, he is best known as a leader who had the vision and the strength of character to implement reforms that brought peace to his subjects and respected the principles of human rights and religious tolerance. Cyrus is also remembered for his masterful diplomacy and his magnanimous treatment of defeated rivals. He is attributed with authoring the first proclamation of human rights, written in cuneiform and preserved on the legendary Cyrus Cylinder.

The symphonic suite celebrates the life of Cyrus from childhood, through the early years of his reign, culminating with his declaration of human rights. The composition is a masterful work by renowned composer, Loris Tjeknovarian, who brings to life the ancient and rich culture of Persia and the human challenges faced by a benevolent and visionary leader.

--Kimberly Verde

Composers & the Voice, 2013-2014
The next wave of opera has arrived.

American Opera Projects is proud to introduce to you the emerging composers and librettists who will develop songs and operas as part of our seventh season of “Composers & the Voice.” Working with C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood, a team of music directors, world-renowned mentors, and our current group of resident singers, they will hone their skills beginning in September at AOP's home in Brooklyn.

Follow their progress starting today (#C&V) on Facebook, Twitter, and the AOP Blog as we build toward their “First Glimpse” concert on May 18 & 19, 2014.

C&V Fellows:
Guy Barash
Avner Finberg
Jeremy Gill
Jason Kim
Andreia Pinto-Correia
Gity Razaz
Joseph Rubinstein

Artistic Director:
Steven Osgood

Music Directors:
Mila Henry
Kelly Horsted
Charity Wicks

Improv Instructor:
Terry Greiss

Resident Singers:
Deborah Lifton
Kristin Sampson
Rachel Calloway
Dominic Armstrong
Jorell Williams
Matthew Burns

Artistic Chairs:
Mark Campbell
Daron Hagen
Jake Heggie
John Musto
Tobias Picker
Stephen Schwartz

--AOP News

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s 41st Season
The third week of concerts includes pianist Jeremy Denk in performance, pianist Shai Wosner in recital, baritone Matthew Worth singing Schumann’s Dichterliebe in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and two concerts featuring the Johannes String Quartet.

With its ever-sparkling dialogues between groups of instruments, Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major, presented in its original instrumentation, begins the Festival’s third week of concerts. The wind group is comprised of Julie Landsman as horn player, bassoonist Theodore Soluri, and clarinetist Todd Levy.  Violinist Jessica Lee, violist Choong-Jin Chang, cellist Joseph Johnson, and bassist Kristen Bruya encompass the string section. Celebrated worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician, pianist Jeremy Denk joins Avery Fisher Career Grant Winner, violinist Soovin Kim, and cellist Peter Stumpf for Brahms's stately Piano Trio No. 1.

Sunday, July 28 at 6pm and Monday, July 29 at 6pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art, Sante Fe, NM

Beethoven: Septet in E-flat major, Op. 20
Todd Levy, clarinet; Julie Landsman, horn; Theodore Soluri, bassoon;
Jessica Lee, violin; Choong-Jin Chang, viola; Joseph Johnson, cello;
Kristen Bruya, bass

Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8
Soovin Kim, violin; Peter Stumpf, cello; Jeremy Denk, piano

Tickets: Sunday or Monday Series subscription: $390;
Single tickets: $53-73; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Shai Wosner Solo Piano Recital
Tuesday, July 30 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and creative insight.  In his Festival solo recital debut, Mr. Wosner presents a Schubert-themed program including the composer’s final major work for the piano, Sonata No. 21, D. 960, Klavierstück No. 1, alongside a recent work by German composer Jörg Widmann, the Schubert homage Idyll and Abyss.

Schubert: Klavierstück in E-flat minor, D. 946, No. 1
Jorg Widmann: Idyll and Abyss (Six Schubert Reminiscences)
Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat Major, D. 960

Tickets: Music at Noon subscription: $198;
Single tickets: $20-25; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Schumann Songs, Schubert Strings, Baritone Matthew Worth and Pianist Shai Wosner, Johannes String Quartet
Wednesday, July 31 at 7:30pm
Simms Auditorium, Albuquerque Academy
And Thursday, August 1 at 6pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Baritone Matthew Worth is enjoying success in opera houses and concert halls across the United States.  He joins pianist Shai Wosner for two concerts of Schumann’s beloved song cycle Dichterliebe.  The Johannes String Quartet ends the concert with Schubert’s dramatically melancholic String Quartet No. 13.  The first of these concerts appears as part of the extended Albuquerque series with a repeat performance August 1 in Santa Fe.

Schumann: Dichterliebe, Op. 48
Matthew Worth, baritone; Shai Wosner, piano

Schubert: String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804
Johannes String Quartet: Soovin Kim, violin; Jessica Lee, violin; Choong-Jin Chang, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello

Tickets: Albuquerque Series subscription (Simms Auditorium): $140;
Single tickets: $30-40; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Thursday Series subscription (St. Francis Auditorium): $305;
Single tickets: $31-69; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Johannes String Quartet Music at Noon Series
Thursday, August 1 at 12pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

Praised for its special combination of passion, warmth, elegance, and poetry, the Johannes String Quartet is comprised of the first American to win the Paganini Violin Competition in 24 years, a Concert Artist Guild International Competition Winner, Principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and former Principal cello of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit (Thus the Night) for String Quartet
Johannes String Quartet: Soovin Kim, violin; Jessica Lee, violin; Choong-Jin Chang, viola;
Peter Stumpf, cello
Brahms: String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat major, Op. 67
Johannes String Quartet

Tickets: Music at Noon subscription: $198; Single tickets: $20-25; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Thursday Series subscription (St. Francis Auditorium): $305; Single tickets: $12-69; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

Bach Plus Series: A Johann Sebastian Bach Spectacular
Saturday, August 3 at 5pm
St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art

As part of the Bach Plus series, the Festival presents the third of five concerts surrounding the enduring music of J.S. Bach. Cellist Joseph Johnson’s final concert in the Festival’s 41st season sees him in the spotlight performing one of classical music’s most familiar works, Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major for Solo Cello.  Longtime friend of the Festival and international harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh partners with violist Choong-Jin Chang for the composer’s Sonata No. 3 in G minor for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord.  GRAMMY Award-nominated flutist, Joshua Smith, closes the program with Bach’s Partita in A minor for Solo Flute.

J.S. Bach: Suite No. 1 in G major for Solo Cello, BWV 1007
Joseph Johnson, cello
Sonata No. 3 in G minor for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord, BWV 1029
Choong-Jin Chang, viola; Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
Partita in A minor for Solo Flute, BWV 1013
Joshua Smith, flute

Tickets: Bach Plus subscription: $190; Single tickets: $32-40; Ages 35 & Under $15; Ages 6-10 $10

For more information on Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's concerts and to order tickets, please call 505-982-1890 or visit www.SantaFeChamberMusic.com. The box office is located in the lobby of the New Mexico Museum of Art at 107 West Palace Avenue and is open daily from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum 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