Classical Music News of the Week, December 1, 2013

“Salute to Vienna” Invites Washington, D.C. to Celebrate Viennese New Years at Strathmore on December 29, 2013

Join the festivities at The Music Center at Strathmore at 3 pm on December 29, 2013.

“Salute to Vienna,” now a 19-year old tradition, brings the vibrant Viennese bombast to The Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane N Bethesda, MD 20852) on December 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm. Modeled after Vienna’s Neujahrskonzert tradition, “Salute to Vienna” answers the question of “what should we do for New Years?” for over 40,000 people across North America every year. The show is light-hearted and full of energy: a full orchestra offers the lilting waltzes of Johann Strauss Jr. and his contemporaries, costumed dancers bring those waltzes to life, and singers–hand-picked from Europe's finest opera-houses–present stories of love, romance, and comedy to eager audiences in the most prestigious concert halls across the continent.

Over an action-packed five days this New Year's season, Salute to Vienna will host more than 20 live performances across Canada and the United States. With a brilliant cast of over 75 musicians, singers, and dancers in each city, Salute to Vienna features a vibrant new program every year.  The performance this year at the Strathmore will feature the Strauss Symphony of America conducted by Viennese conductor Christian Schultz, along with soprano Monika Rebholz and tenor Brian Cheney. Dancers will include the Europaballett-St. Pölten and members of the International Champion Ballroom Dancers.

To get an idea of the program, click on the video:

For a complete list of upcoming shows, click “All Shows” here:

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

The Tureck Bach Research Institute Presents a Tribute to its Founder, Rosalyn Tureck
A celebration of the life and work of the renowned keyboard artist, scholar and teacher on the centenary of her birth, with Sharon Isbin, a video retrospective and Performances by Golda Vainberg-Tatz and Laureates from the 2013 Tureck Bach Competition  for Young Pianists.

Sunday, December 15 at 3:00 PM ~ Free admission
The Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center

The Tureck Bach Research Institute hosts a special celebration honoring renowned keyboard artist, scholar, and teacher Rosalyn Tureck, marking both 100 years since her birth (December 14, 1913) and 10 years since her death (July 17, 2003). Hailed as "the high priestess of Bach" and acclaimed for her uncompromisingly rigorous, intelligent and detailed performances, Tureck devoted more than six decades to performing, researching, teaching and writing about Bach’s works.

The concert and commemoration will include a video retrospective, a live interview with former Tureck student and internationally acclaimed guitarist Sharon Isbin, and performances by pianist Golda Vainberg-Tatz, founder of the Tureck International Competition for Young Pianists, as well as two laureates from the 2013 competition: Athena Tsianos (age 17) and Allison To (age 12). The event takes place on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm at the Bruno Walter Auditorium in the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, 111 Amsterdam Avenue (south of West 65th Street) and will be followed by a reception. Free tickets may be reserved at

Founded by Ms. Tureck in 1981, the Tureck Bach Institute supports research, scholarship, and an exchange of ideas about Bach. President of the Institute, Kevin Kleinmann, who will be the host for this event, initiated and oversaw Tureck’s recording of the Goldberg Variations for Deutsche Grammophon in 1997 (recorded at the age of 84). He comments: “Rosalyn Tureck was a big personality, with an aura and a charisma that you could feel from a mile away. Through endless discussions with her, she taught me how to be analytical, how to achieve clarity of thought and to apply it in everything we do. There are few who could be performers and scholars to the level that she was.”

Sharon Isbin edited the complete Bach lute suites for guitar with Tureck: “When you think of Rosalyn Tureck, you think of perfection, you think of magnificent rhythm, an ear that is beyond that of most mortal human beings. You think of someone who has delved beneath the surface to the depths of musicality and scholarship that we cannot even conceive of, in order to produce what she did… she was a goddess.”

Rosalyn Tureck was a huge influence on a generation of pianists including the more celebrated Glenn Gould, who commented that she was the only pianist whom he admired. In her obituary, The Guardian said: “What always convinces the listener is the compelling, incandescent, almost evangelical spirit that shines through [in the] detail.”

For more information and to RSVP for this free, limited-seating event on December 15, please see

--Shira Gilbert PR

West Edge Opera’s Second Holiday-Themed Concert at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, December 15
West Edge Opera presents "Something Merry," the second in its holiday-themed concerts at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, on Sunday, December 15, at 4 pm. The concert features sopranos Marie Plette and Christine Abraham in traditional, sacred, and contemporary music of the holiday season. They will be accompanied by Sun Ha Yoon, a current Adler Fellow pianist at the San Francisco Opera. The Piedmont Center for the Arts is at 801 Magnolia Avenue in Piedmont, CA.

American soprano Marie Plette, who most recently appeared in the title role of West Edge Opera’s Vanessa, is acclaimed in the major opera houses of North America and Europe for her compelling portrayals from Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly to Love Simpson in Cold Sassy Tree and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. Immediately after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1992, Marie Plette was invited to make her Metropolitan Opera debut as the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte. She has performed frequently with the company since then in roles including Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Gutrune in Götterdämmerung, and Kristina in The Makropoulos Case. Her performances of Madama Butterfly prompted the New York Times to remark, "The opera did partake of the other great unifying factor here: a star turn, by Marie Plette in the title role."

Declared "radiant" by the Los Angeles Times and "Glamorous and melting of voice" by the Wall Street Journal, Christine Abraham has performed a varied operatic and orchestral repertoire to great artistic acclaim. Her successful career as a high mezzo-soprano included several soprano roles such as Valencienne in The Merry Widow with Utah Opera, Despina in Così fan tutte with Toledo Opera, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Tulsa Opera, and Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites with Palm Beach Opera. She has now made the formal switch to soprano, adding many new roles into her repertoire including Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Mimi in La bohème, the title role in Rusalka, and Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia.

In 2013-14 Christine Abraham sings Amelia in Giancarlo Aquilanti’s Oxford Companions at Stanford University. Recent appearances include Sarah in the North American premiere of James MacMillan’s Clemency at Boston Lyric Opera and soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat with the Berkshire Choral Festival in Sonoma, California.

Pianist and vocal coach Sun Ha Yoon is a first-year Adler Fellow from Seoul, South Korea. In the summer of 2012 she was a participant in the Merola Opera Program. Prior to that, she was a vocal piano fellow at the Music Academy of the West, where she coached Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Don Giovanni. In January of 2012, she collaborated with soprano Megan Hart in a duo recital at Carnegie Hall as part of Marilyn Horne’s "The Song Continues" series. Yoon recently graduated with a doctorate in collaborative piano performance from the University of Maryland and worked as a coach for the Maryland Opera Studio in two world premiere performances: Later the Same Evening by John Musto and Shadowboxer by Frank Proto.

"Something Merry" at the Piedmont Center for the Arts is sponsored by Anne Brandon and Rick Richetta of Alain Pinel Realtors.

Tickets, at $25 for adults and $15 for kids under 18, are available online at westedgeopera,org or by telephone at (510) 841-1903. Each ticket includes chocolate and a glass of wine or a soft drink. For more information, go to West Edge Opera’s website at

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

Listen: Life With Classical Music Releases Its Winter 2013 Issue
Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Nicole, the Minnesota Orchestra, Beethoven Nine (and Online), and Tastes & Sounds of Vienna

A searing account of the disaster in Minnesota and a poignant talk with the star of the New York City Opera’s unexpected final production usher in the season’s icy winds, but the winter issue of Listen: Life with Classical Music warms up with a fit opera star’s irrepressible passion for Parsifal, sunny stories from readers about their favorite musical moments, a divine Sachertorte recipe, an ode to Beethoven’s Ninth, and a flurry of white-hot recordings.

On the cover is the opera world’s current reigning tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, who goes twelve rounds with fearless Editor-in-Chief Ben Finane in an epic interview that illuminates Kaufmann’s full-on mind-body-spirit commitment to his art.

Minneapolis-based arts critic Royce Graylock shows no mercy as he elucidates the “stubborn ideologies and human arrogance” that led to the Minnesota Orchestra’s Biblical collapse in October 2013. Meanwhile, Brian Wise chats with soprano Sarah Joy Miller about singing the role of Anna Nicole Smith while the New York City Opera spiraled into its own tabloid-documented demise.

Perhaps these tragedies explain the enduring power of Beethoven’s victorious Ninth Symphony. Rebecca Schmid investigates why we keep coming back to this beloved warhorse (and why it usually delivers!) Also with regards to our good friend Ludwig, find out what happens when knowledge-hungry writer Damian Fowler accepts a dare from his pianist girlfriend and enrolls in an online Beethoven course.

Our critics weigh in on 15 new albums including the new Verdi disc from cover boy Jonas Kaufmann, Hélène Grimauld’s Brahms record, Jeremy Denk’s Goldberg Variations, and the mammoth 51-disc box-set Decca Sound: The Analogue Years.

Plus, much, much more in the winter 2013 issue of Listen: Life with Classical Music.

An award-winning print quarterly hailed by Library Journal as one of the best new magazines of 2009, Listen Magazine is the American voice of classical music.

Now in its fifth year of publication, Listen delivers exclusive interviews with the world’s top musicians, feature articles, think pieces, festival coverage, insight into the masterworks and the unsung works of the classical canon, as well as recommendations on record, on screen, in print and online. No one covers the breadth and depth of classical music with greater elegance and zeal than Listen.

The magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores throughout the U.S. and Canada or by subscription.

Special offer: Get a two-year subscription to Listen for only $14.95 and receive Bach’s Keyboard Masterworks, a 3-CD set by pianist Andrew Rangell FREE. Visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Music Institute of Chicago Presents Free Lunchtime Concerts of Chamber Music
Aimee Biasiello, viola, Kathy Lee, piano, and Ellen McSweeney, violin; Wednesday, December 11, 12:15–1 p.m. Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, Il.

Admission: Free

The Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served.

The December program features Cesar Franck’s Sonata for Viola and Piano in A Major and Max Bruch’s Pieces for Violin, Viola, and Piano, Op. 83.

For further information, click or 847.905.1500

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Returns to Cal Performances with Handel’s Messiah, Saturday, December 14, at 8:00 P.M. in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA
The acclaimed early music ensemble Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, led by music director Nicholas McGegan, will perform George Frideric Handel’s cherished oratorio Messiah at Cal Performances on Saturday, December 14, at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall. The orchestra is renowned for its authentic performances, employing period instruments and performance practices that transport the audience back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the musicians adhere closely to early practices, “their playing laces precision with a heady dose of abandon. … McGegan presides with genial vigor, encouraging and enjoying the extravagance” (Boston Globe). The ensemble will be joined by soloists Yulia van Doren, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Lawrence Wiliford, tenor; and Philip Cutlip, baritone. The Philharmonia Chorale, the orchestra’s 24-member chorus directed by Bruce Lamott, will sing the oratorio’s choral sections.

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has presented historically informed Baroque, Classical, and early-Romantic music on original instruments since its founding in 1981 by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg. McGegan has led the orchestra since 1986 and is extolled for his Baroque recordings, including the first modern recording of Handel’s Susanna, which garnered a Gramophone Award and a Grammy Award nomination. In addition to its concert series in the San Francisco Bay Area, Philharmonia Baroque regularly tours nationally and internationally. Throughout its history, the group has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including pianist Emanuel Ax, choreographer Mark Morris, gambist Jordi Savall, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, and countertenor David Daniels. The orchestra and chorale appear frequently at Cal Performances and performed Handel’s Messiah here in December 2011 and December 2012. The ensemble’s next appearance in Berkeley will be in the world premiere of Mark Morris’s production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, April 25–27, 2014.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on Saturday, December 14, at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $30.00 to $75.00 and are subject to change. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to

--Rusty Barnes, Cal Performances

Guitarist Sharon Isbin Celebrates a Legendary Anniversary Season
92nd St. Y to host Isbin for December 14th concert.

On Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 8PM, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin returns to the 92nd St. Y for a solo recital. The concert celebrates the 35th anniversary of her New York debut (at Alice Tully Hall in 1979), the 25th anniversary of The Juilliard School guitar department (which Sharon Isbin created in 1989, the first in the institution's 100-year history), and honors the 100th birthday on this date of her mentor Rosalyn Tureck, as well as the centenary of Benjamin Britten.

Ms. Isbin's program for this event includes J.S. Bach’s Suite BWV997 from the landmark performance editions she created in collaboration with Rosalyn Tureck (December 14, 1913-July 2003), published by G. Schirmer. Ms. Isbin also performs Britten’s Nocturnal, his only solo work for guitar, Bruce MacCombie’s Nightshade Rounds written for Sharon Isbin, and music by Isaac Albeniz, Andrew York, and Agustin Barrios Mangoré.

Tickets are available for advanced purchase, from $35, at

On February 9, 2014, Ms. Isbin returns to New York City to perform at the Lehman Center as part of her 18-city Guitar Passions tour:

--Jay K. Hoffman & Associates

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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