Classical Music News of the Week, December 8, 2013

Power Pianist Denis Matsuev Revels in Haydn, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky for Strathmore Hall Recital

The white-hot Russian pianist brings a virtuosic and vivacious recital program to The Music Center at Strathmore Hall (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD). Free parking is available for ticket holders. on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7pm.

Fresh off an overwhelmingly successful North American tour as soloist with illustrious maestro Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, pianist Denis Matsuev stops off at Strathmore Hall, before his sold-out Carnegie Hall recital, to demonstrate why, as The New York Times reported, “audiences showed, by clamorous standing ovations, that they loved everything Mr. Matsuev did.”

With his characteristic blend of “heroic force” (The Independent) and famously passionate interpretation, Matsuev’s recital traverses the spectrum of classical moods: the poetic elegance of Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52; Schumann’s nimble, playful Carnaval, Op. 9; some of Tchaikovsky’s most soulful piano works (Dumka in C minor, Op. 59 and M├ęditation, Op. 72, No. 5); and intense and shadowy Rachmaninoff in a pair of preludes (G minor, Op. 23, No. 5 and G-flat minor, Op. 32, No. 12) and the Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor.

The winner of numerous prestigious international honors including the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition and the Shostakovich Prize, the Siberian-born Matsuev made his name internationally as an ardent Romantic specialized in the music of Rachmaninoff. While the composer’s quintessential concertos are still the bread and butter of Matsuev’s “pedal to the metal” persona, the intimacy of this recital—although still filled with crowd-pleasing virtuosity—highlights his deep emotional connection to this repertoire. His performance is sure to heat up the hall on a cold winter’s day!

About Denis Matsuev:
Hailed “as the successor to Russian keyboard lions like Evgeny Kissin, Arcadi Volodos, and … Vladimir Horowitz” (The New York Times), Denis Matsuev has been establishing himself as one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation. Ever since his triumphant victory at the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has been winning acclaim from critics and audiences alike for his combination of stunning virtuosity and clear artistic identity.

Ticket information:
Tickets for the performance at Strathmore are $35-$75 and can be purchased fee free from the Strathmore ticket office, or by phone at 301-581-5100 (Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.), or online at Group ticket discount is available for groups 50+ people 15% off, and for groups 20+ people 10% off. Student discount of 20% is available when purchased in person with valid student ID.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Music Institute of Chicago Hosts 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert: Brotherhood Chorale Returns January 19
The Music Institute of Chicago honors the extraordinary legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at its 10th annual celebration of the legendary civil rights leader, featuring the renowned Brotherhood Chorale of the Apostolic Church of God, Sunday, January 19 at 5 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL. Ticket proceeds support the Music Institute’s William Warfield Memorial Scholarship Fund.

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.

The William Warfield Memorial Scholarship Fund annually offers need-based financial assistance for minority students at the Music Institute of Chicago. Famed operatic baritone William Warfield was a longstanding member of the Music Institute’s board of trustees. He was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and, in 1975, accepted an appointment as professor of music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He later became chairman of the Voice Department. In 1994, he moved to Northwestern University's School of Music, where he stayed until his death.

This year’s William Warfield scholarship recipients, who will perform at the January 19 concert, include Jada Adamson-Tate (age 10, Skokie), piano student of Claire Neiweem; Maya Gibson (age 12, Zion), violin student of Daniel Golden; Kamau Kokayi-Taylor (age 12, Evanston), jazz piano student of Fred Simon; Hannah White* (age 13, Germantown, WI), violin student of Hye-Sun Lee; Lucienne Williams (age 13, Chicago), viola student of Sarah Montzka; and Mira Williams* (age 15, Chicago), viola student of Marko Dreher. (The * indicates students in the Music Institute’s prestigious Academy for extraordinarily gifted pre-college musicians.)

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.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. concert featuring the Brotherhood Chorale takes place Sunday, January 19 at 5 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Admission is $10 and is available at or by calling 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Earshot & Berkeley Symphony Announce New Partnership for 2013-2014: “Under Construction” Series. Brand-new Orchestral Works by Four Emerging Composers: Sivan Eldar, B.P. Herrington, Ruben Naeff, and Nicholas S. Omiccioli
Presented February 2 and May 4, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Osher Studio | 2055 Center Street | Berkeley, CA
Tickets: $10 at (510) 841-2800 x1 or

More information:

EarShot (the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network) and Berkeley Symphony announce a new partnership for the 2013-2014 “Under Construction” program designed as an opportunity for emerging composers to develop their works with a professional orchestra. The selected composers for 2013-2014, chosen from a national candidate pool, are Sivan Eldar of San Francisco, California; B.P. Herrington of Conroe, Texas; Ruben Naeff of Brooklyn, New York; and Nicholas S. Omiccioli of Kansas City, Missouri. Each will compose a new symphonic work to be workshopped and read by Berkeley Symphony at the Osher Studio in Berkeley on February 2 at 7 pm (the first public unveiling of the composers’ works in process) and on May 4 at 7 pm (a run-through of the completed pieces).

“Under Construction” has served as an incubator for emerging composers for more than 20 years, offering the unique opportunity to develop skills and gain practical experience in writing for a professional orchestra. Each selected composer will workshop and complete one large symphonic work to be presented at two separate readings, allowing composers the chance to hear their concepts realized and audiences the opportunity to have a window into the creative process. They will regularly meet with composers Edmund Campion and Robert Beaser in private and small group sessions, receive feedback and orchestration lessons from Music Director Joana Carneiro as well as participate in workshops led by key orchestra members. This expanded program is the result of a new partnership with EarShot, a nationwide network of new music readings and composer-development programs. As the nation’s first ongoing, systematic program for identifying emerging orchestral composers, EarShot provides professional-level working experience with orchestras from every region of the country and increases awareness of these composers and access to their music throughout the industry. The program is administered by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) with partner organizations the American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras and New Music USA.

In addition to “Under Construction” with Berkeley Symphony, EarShot partnerships during the 2013-2014 season also include La Jolla Symphony (September 2013), Detroit Symphony (Readings on March 9-10, 2014), and New York Philharmonic (Readings on June 3, concerts on June 5-7, 2014, submission deadline December 2, 2013) as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. Also as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, ACO continues its own Underwood New Music Readings for the 23rd year in New York at the DiMenna Center (June 6-7, 2014, submission deadline December 2, 2013). To date more than three-dozen composers have been selected for EarShot new music readings with orchestras across the country including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA), New York Youth Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony.

For more information, visit

--Karen Ames Communications

A Nordic Holiday To Benefit the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
One World Symphony
Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Conductor
Emanouil Manolov, Violin
Monica Martin, Violin
Jason Mellow, Violin
One World Symphony Vocal Artists
Robert Page Jazz Trio

Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Jean Sibelius: from Symphony No. 2
Edvard Grieg: from Peer Gynt 

One Performance Only:
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
8:00 p.m.
Holy Apostles Church
296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street, Manhattan

$20 Students/Seniors with ID
$30 General

Post-concert wine reception with live jazz by the Robert Page Jazz Trio.
Net proceeds will benefit Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

--Adrienne Metzinger, One World Symphony

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester Announce 2014 U.S. Tour
Six-city tour supports the new Deutsche Grammophon album Golden Age, available February 25, 2014. Tour dates include Miami, Atlanta, and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Berlin's famed crooner Max Raabe and his 12-piece Palast Orchester will bring their collection of meticulously recreated songs from the Weimar era of 1920s Germany as well as the Great American Songbook to six US cities beginning March 2, 2014 in Fairfax, VA and continuing to Carnegie Hall; Princeton, NJ; Kennett Square, PA; Atlanta, GA, and finishing in Miami, FL on March 9, 2014. The tour will support their upcoming release on Deutsche Grammophon, Golden Age, which draws from the era between the two world wars and features timeless classics like “Singing in the Rain,” “Dream a Little Dream,” and “Cheek to Cheek,” as well as tongue-in-cheek interpretations of pop favorites “Sex Bomb” and “Oops...I Did it Again.”

For over a decade, audiences have been delighted by Max Raabe & Palast Orchester's unforgettable live performances. "Suffused with nostalgia yet played straight" (Time Out New York) the performers stroll onto the stage dressed in black-tie and perform the music of the Weimar era with vigor and class. Max Raabe is a born entertainer who introduces each tune by giving proper credit to the composers and period while keeping the audience rolling in the aisles with his signature deadpan humor. Playing "the most elegant kind of pop music" (San Francisco Chronicle) Max Raabe & Palast Orchester have already sold more than a million albums around the world. "Raabe & Co. disarm, charm with impeccable glamour… meticulously channels swinging interwar decadence into a contemporary thrill." (The Boston Globe)

Dashing, dapper and debonair, Max Raabe might have walked straight out of the Golden Age of Berlin in the 1920s. With his elegant poise, suave sophistication and silky-smooth baritone, he brings to life the songs and style of a bygone age. His ageless Peter Pan looks and impeccable style on and offstage have already made him a legend in his native Germany. In America multi-city tours and enthusiastic coverage have earned him a similar reputation.  Highlights in the US include sold-out performances at Carnegie Hall, and appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland and beyond. Max Raabe is not only a unique talent, but a very funny man. He has even traded quips with Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street. His passion was first roused by a record he found in his parents' cupboard: a humorous instrumental called I'm Crazy About Hilde. Before long he was collecting 78s in flea markets and junk shops. By the age of 16 he was an expert on the songs and styles of the Weimar era, his enthusiasm fuelled by black-and-white films featuring music, dance and comedy.  In his early 20s Max moved to Berlin to study opera, dreaming of becoming a baritone, moonlighting with a friend to perform the 1920s songs he loved so much at bars and student parties.

Additional information:

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music

The Bach Sinfonia Performs a Baroque Holiday Festival
Hear the sounds of the season with works by six different composers. Plus a sing-along!

On Saturday, December 14, 2013, The Bach Sinfonia will present its first-ever public holiday program in Silver Spring, MD. Audiences will hear period instrument performances of Baroque holiday music, including J. S. Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51, Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 (The “Christmas Concerto”), the “Pifa” and “Rejoice Greatly” from Handel’s Messiah and “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Samson. Torelli’s rarely heard Christmas concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 6 will also be performed, as well as seasonal works by Praetorius, Purcell and Vivaldi.

Sinfonia will be joined by rising early music soprano Nola Richardson whose voice is “youthful & lively as the god of love" (Axel Feldman, Not for Fun Only), and natural trumpet soloist Stanley Curtis who plays “a ‘mean’ Bach Trumpet” according to The Washington Post’s Cecelia Porter, at the Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring for the 8 PM performance. Each half of the program feature a period-instrument ensemble holiday sing-a-long of well-known (and less known) carols from the Baroque and late Renaissance.

Saturday, December 14, 2013 AT 8 PM
Free Pre-Concert Discussion at 7:20 PM
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910

$30 adult
$27 seniors (60 and up)
$15 (ages 15 – University)
Free (ages 14 and under)

Order Online at or call (301) 362-6525

--Jennifer Buzzell, Bach Sinfonia

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Exudes Christmas Joy and Wonder in “A Child is Born,” a Musical Celebration on December 15 & 18
St. Ignatius Loyola’s annual Christmas concert, “A Child is Born,” features the exceptional Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola, the church’s community ensembles and a “Hallelujah Chorus” sing-a-long for everybody else! Performances will take place at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (980 Park Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets) on Sunday, December 15 at 3 pm (SOLD OUT) and Wednesday, December 18 at 7 pm. Tickets are $75 preferred / $60 general / $50 reduced and can be purchased 24/7 at or 212.288.2520.

Under the banner of the Church’s “vaunted” (The New York Times) series Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, director K. Scott Warren will lead the acclaimed professional Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola, plus the parish’s community ensembles, in the most celebratory moments of Handel’s masterful Messiah (including a “Hallelujah Chorus” sing-a-long), Victoria's transcendent O Magnum Mysterium and John Rutter's enchanting modern classic What Sweeter Music. The powerful line-up of soloists for the Handel includes soprano Ann Wazelle, mezzo-soprano Kate Maroney and tenor Philip Anderson. The orchestra shines on Vaughan Williams’s peaceful Fantasia on Greensleeves, and traditional hymns and carols give the audience a chance to raise their voices in song to celebrate the hope, love, joy and peace of the season.

The concert is the exuberant pinnacle of a musically-rich December at the Church that began with a reflective Advent Lessons & Carols service on Sunday, December 1 and includes “A Chanticleer Christmas,” featuring the Grammy-award-winning male chorus singing Christmas selections dating from the Middle Ages through the 21st century, on Sunday, December 8 at 4 pm (SOLD OUT), and Monday, December 9 at 7 pm ($75 preferred / $60 general).

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

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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