Classical Music News of the Week, January 12, 2014

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Pipa Virtuoso Wu Man Returns to Cal Performances to Explore the 2,000-Year History of Her Instrument
Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA.

Winner of the 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year award by Musical America, Chinese-born Wu Man has become a celebrated musician since  moving to the United States 20 years ago. While documenting hundreds of journeys to little-known regions of Asia, she unearthed ancient musical traditions that have influenced both the pipa’s repertoire and her own technique. “The effects Wu Man can extract from her instrument cover a wide spectrum: it can caress, crack jokes and sing sweetly, or it can howl and roar to a degree you’d scarcely dream possible with 10 fingers and four strings stretched over a shallow rosewood box” (Songlines Magazine). Her Cal Performances recital on Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall will explore the full range of this two century old instrument by demonstrating traditional sounds, as well as those she creates when performing with such contemporary greats as Tan Dun, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass.

Watch an exclusive video of Wu Man demonstrating the pipa:

By meshing the ancient with the modern, Wu Man will take the Berkeley audience on an illuminating personal journey. Opening with two hand-written scores from the 1870s, Xi Yang Xiao Gu (“Flute and Drum Music at Sunset”) and Shi Mian Mai Fu (“Ambush Laid on Ten Sides”), these compositions feature the “civil” and “martial” styles of classical pipa music—the latter of which is structured in traditional storytelling form portraying the epic battle between the kingdoms of Han and the warlord of Chu in 202 B.C. The program then moves into the 20th century with Liu Tianhua’s “Xu Lai” (“Meditation”) and “Music from Kyrgyzstan,” composed by Nurlanbek Nyshanov for Wu Man during the Silk Road Project residency in Boston in 2004. The next piece, “Dance of the Yi People” by Wang Hurian, displays virtuoso pipa techniques, such as tremolos, strumming, sliding notes, and harmonics. Concluding the program is a traditional work San Liu (“Three Six”), followed by two of Wu Man’s own contemporary compositions, “Night Thoughts” and “Leaves Flying in Autumn.”

Tickets for Wu Man on Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall are $32.00 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

DCINY Proudly Presednts the Music of Karl Jenkins ~ A 70th Birthday Celebration
Featuring the U.S. Premiere of The Bards of Wales. Distinguished Concerts International New York brings the music of the best-selling Welsh composer to America for the 7th Consecutive Season.

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM, Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY.
Jonathan Griffish, DCINY Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra & Distinguished Concerts Singers International

Now entering its 7th season, Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) continues its tradition of bringing the haunting, expansive, and multi-ethnic music of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins to America. On January 20 at 7pm at Carnegie Hall, DCINY presents the U.S. premiere of Jenkins’ The Bards of Wales, a setting of a heroic poem by Hungarian János Arany, as well as the composer’s Stabat Mater and the “Benedictus” from The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. DCINY Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Jonathan Griffith leads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and a truly international chorus, comprised of singers from the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, France, Hong Kong, and Argentina.

Karl Jenkins, who will be in residence on January 20, is one of the most prolific, popular, and performed composers in the world today.  Jenkins’ most recent large scale work, The Bards of Wales, for soloists, chorus and full orchestra, sets the poem by János Arany (1817-82) in Hungarian, Welsh and English. Forging an unexpected link between Hungary and the composer’s homeland, Arany’s poem was commissioned to praise the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. But, as the Austrian overlords had just suppressed the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, the poet did the opposite. To satisfy the state censor, the poem was written in terms of Welsh history rather than Hungarian, telling how Edward I of England executed Welsh bards for failing to sing his praises at a banquet in Montgomery Castle in 1277. The performance will feature popular Welsh tenor Rhys Meirion, mezzo-soprano Charlotte Daw Paulsen, baritone Darik Knutsen, bass-baritone Samuel Smith, and Belinda Sykes on vocals and mey, a double-reed instrument of Turkish origin.

For his Stabat Mater, Karl Jenkins added six texts to the 13th-century Catholic poem, both ancient and modern, in Aramaic, Arabic and English. The rich score features ancient instruments, such as the darabuca, def, doholla and modes, such as Hijaz and Bayati. Stabat Mater will also feature soloists Belinda Sykes and Charlotte Daw Paulsen.The birthday celebration will also feature the “Benedictus” from The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace. Karl Jenkins’ most popular work, The Armed Man has been performed more than 700 times in 20 different countries, notably by DCINY on the 10th anniversary of September 11th and with several hundred musicians.

--Shira Gilbert, DCINY

Harry Bicket and the English Concert Tour Handel’s Theodora in U.S. and Europe
The English Concert (TEC) and Artistic Director Harry Bicket return to the road in January and February, performing Handel's oratorio Theodora coast-to-coast in the United States as well as in the UK and France. Theodora is the second in a multi-season series of Handel's operas and oratorios presented in London's Barbican and New York's Carnegie Hall, among other musical capitals.

In the U.S., Theodora will travel from The Green Center in California's Sonoma County (January 25) and Segerstrom Hall in Orange County (January 27), to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (January 30) and Carnegie Hall (February 2). The tour will continue across the pond, at Town Hall in Birmingham (February 6), the Barbican Centre (February 8), and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris (10 February 2013).

The title role will be sung by sopranos Dorothea Röschmann (U.S.) and Rosemary Joshua (Europe), with mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as Irene; counter-tenors David Daniels (U.S.) and Tim Mead (Europe) as Didymus, tenor Andrew Kennedy as Septimus, and bass Neal Davies as Valens. Bicket and TEC will be joined by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, whose director is Julian Wachner.

Bicket and The English Concert inaugurated their ongoing international series of annual Handel opera and oratorio presentations in 2013, with a "magnificently rendered" Radamisto (The New York Times), in which "the splendid 25-member ensemble, with Mr. Bicket leading from the harpsichord, brought pungent clarity and rhythmic swing to this 1720 score" (The Wall Street Journal).

--Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International

American Bach Soloists: Bach’s Magnificat ushers in the New Year, January 24-27, 2014
Subscription Series concerts begin with Bach’s Magnificat, an all-Bach program that will be presented in Belvedere, Berkeley, Davis, and San Francisco, California from January 24-27. To honor the group’s illustrious history and usher in the next twenty-five years of artistic excellence, ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas has handpicked some of his favorite works by ABS namesake, Johann Sebastian Bach, for the 2014 subscription series concerts.

SMiller (2 of 4) smallThe program begins with Bach’s grand secular cantata Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten! BWV 214 (“Sound, your drums! Ring forth, trumpets!”) and Bach’s virtuoso Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor featuring flutist Sandra Miller. Next will be one of Bach’s most extraordinarily impressive cantatas, Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir, BWV 130, a fantastically extroverted work composed for Leipzig’s lavish celebrations of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels in 1724. Bringing back a hallmark of ABS’s cantata performances over the years, the audience will be invited to sing along on the final chorale. The final work on the program is one of Bach’s most popular sacred compositions, the Magnificat in D Major. This powerful setting is also one of the composer’s most succinct considering how comprehensive it is: a startling array of sweet and savory musical delights are encompassed within its economical 24 minutes.

Tickets for this Bach spectacular can be purchased on our website or by calling the ABS office at (415-) 621-7900.

--American Bach Soloists

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.” Be sure to catch this rising star before he performs at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on February 7!

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 Méditation, 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.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Cal Performances Presents the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a Residency Featuring Three Concerts and an Unprecedented Collaboration in Music and Ideas Commemorating the Centenary of World War I
Friday–Sunday, March 7–9, at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, California.

This powerful moment in history is seen through the lens of music, scholarship, public conversation, and artistic opportunities for students during a two-day symposium: The Vienna Philharmonic 100 Years After the Outbreak of World War I.

The Vienna Philharmonic performs three different programs of works by Mahler, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, and Johannes Maria Staud, conducted by Daniele Gatti, Andris Nelsons, and Franz Welser-Möst.

Three great cultural icons of the world —the top-ranked University of California, Berkeley, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the City of Vienna, lauded for its contributions to the arts and philosophy—come together in an unparalleled collaboration at this significant moment in history. “Cal Performances and the Vienna Philharmonic are leveraging their unique positions as leading arts institutions embedded in robust cultural and intellectual environments, to explore this defining time in 20th-century global events,” says Cal Performances’ Executive and Artistic Director Matías Tarnopolsky. “Scholars from Vienna’s University of Music and the Performing Arts, the Austrian National Library, University of Vienna, and the Vienna Philharmonic travel to the Bay Area to join forces with distinguished UC Berkeley scholars to explore art and culture in Vienna in the 100 years since the start of World War I.”

The cornerstones of this residency, The Vienna Philharmonic 100 Years After the Outbreak of World War I, are three Vienna Philharmonic concerts conducted by three esteemed conductors: Daniele Gatti, Andris Nelsons, and Franz Welser-Möst. They lead Vienna’s towering orchestra in performances of masterpieces by Gustav Mahler, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Mozart, and Johannes Brahms, as well as a 2010 work by the 39-year-old Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud.

In the Vienna Philharmonic’s second residency since its Berkeley debut in 2011, musicians from the Orchestra will participate in events that are free and open to the public, including talks, master classes, open rehearsals, and a chamber music concert. The two-day symposium provides a platform for an exploration of music and culture designed to connect Bay Area audiences with leading scholars, writers, and thinkers, both local and visiting. UC Berkeley is represented by distinguished professors Thomas Laqueur (Department of History); Adam Hochschild (Graduate School of Journalism and author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion); Nicholas Mathew (Music); Niklaus Largier (German); and Martin E. Jay (History), among others. Visiting scholars include Christian Glanz (University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna); Alfred Poser (Deputy Director, Vienna Library in City Hall, Vienna); Hans Petschar (Head of the Visual Archives, Austrian National Library); Clemens Hellsberg (Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra); Oliver Rathkolb (Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna, and author of The Paradoxical Republic); Nuria Schoenberg-Nono (daughter of Arnold Schoenberg, Board Chair of the Arnold Schoenberg Center, Vienna, and director of the Luigi Nono Archive, Vienna); and Christian Meyer (University of Munich and author of The Culture of Freedom).

Clemens Hellsberg, Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and its longtime historian, will give a 30-minute talk before each of the three concerts. The talks are free to event ticketholders and are created to deepen concertgoers’ experience.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert series opens on Friday, March 7, with Italy’s Daniele Gatti leading the venerable ensemble in a pairing of Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G major with soprano Juliane Banse. The following evening, Saturday, March 8, Andris Nelsons, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducts Haydn’s Symphony No. 90 in C major and Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn and Symphony No. 3 in F major. The matinee concert on Sunday, March 9, features Franz Welser-Möst, music director of the Cleveland Orchestra and Vienna State Opera, at the podium, in a program of Mozart’s Symphony No. 28 in C major, Staud’s On Comparative Meteorology, and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A major.

Over the weekend, a four-part symposium will offers an in-depth look at how arts and politics intermingle, as well as the complex role an iconic arts institution can play in the course of history. On Saturday at 10:00 a.m., a panel discussion titled “Viennese Modernism Between World War I and World War II” will be moderated by Martin E. Jay. After a lunch break, there will be a one-hour concert by a string sextet from the Vienna Philharmonic, performing music by Berg, Schoenberg, Korngold, Zeisl, and Ero"d, followed by a discussion titled “Wartime and Postwar Memories Reloaded” with Nuria Schoenberg-Nono and Christian Meyer. The afternoon concludes at 4:30 p.m. with “Making Peace After War,” led by Jay, with Clemens Hellsberg, William McElheney (retired member of the Vienna Philharmonic), Adam Hochschild, and Michael Steinberg (Brown University, Music and History).

On Sunday morning from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Stefan Ludwig Hoffman (UC Berkeley, History) will guide the conversation on “Mastery of the Past.” Clemens Hellsberg, Oliver Rathkolb, Carla Shapreau (UC Berkeley, Law), and Richard Buxbaum (UC Berkeley, Law) will participate. “The Responsibility of Artists,” the final talk of the symposium, will be given by Franz Welser-Möst in Zellerbach Hall after the 3:00 p.m. concert. All sessions of the symposium, except the final event, will be held at George Gund Theater at the Berkeley Art Museum.

Cal Performances continues the commemoration of the outbreak of World War I when The Kronos Quartet returns to Berkeley in April by convening a second symposium on the topic, A Meditation on War (April 4–6). This gathering of scholars and artists is planned in conjunction with the world premiere of Beyond Zero, 1914–1918, Kronos’s newly commissioned multimedia work by composer Aleksandra Vrebelov and filmmaker Bill Morrison. “Art and the creative spirit can keep us sane when everything around us is crumbling,” states Vrebalov, who will give a presentation at the symposium with Iraq war veteran-turned-visual artist Drew Cameron of the Combat Paper Project, Bill Morrison, David Harrington of Kronos, and scholars, including Thomas Laqueur (UC Berkeley, History) and others to be announced. The world premiere of Beyond Zero will take place on Sunday, April 6, at 7:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA.

Ticket information:
Tickets for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concerts on Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 9, at 3:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $35.00 to $200.00 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

On Monday, January 6, YPC Began the New Year in a Very Big Way
100 million people worldwide watched as Young People’s Chorus of New York rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, beginning the 56-day countdown to YPC's March 3 fundraising gala.

Thank you to the wonderful YPC choristers and great colleagues who joined us on the NYSE podium. And a special thank-you to Duncan Niederauer, Chief Executive Officer of NYSE Euronext, who invited YPC to take part in this grand occasion. Mr. Niederauer is also a Vice-Chairman of YPC's March 3 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala, which will pay tribute to Robert E. Moritz, Chairman and Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as its Corporate Honoree and present J.B. Harrison with its Humanitarian Award, as well as celebrate the incredible achievements of our young people.

Please help us expand and strengthen YPC's vital after-school and in-school programs, while enjoying a one-time-only evening of incomparable entertainment: Young People's Chorus of New York City
Annual Gala Benefit Concert and Dinner, Monday, March 3, 2014. Concert: 7:00 p.m. Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, New York City.

The event features the award-winning Young People's Chorus of New York City, with special guest artists. Dinner will immediately follow at the Mandarin Oriental, 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street, NYC.

For information or advanced reservations, contact Carla Capone at the YPC Event Office 212-213-1166 or e-mail

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

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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