Classical Music News of the Week, February 2, 2014

Another Announcement

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Soprano Jennifer Rowley Makes Eagerly Awaited Met Opera Debut on March 19 in La Bohème 
A surprise breakout performance at Caramoor in 2010 launched the rising star soprano on a trajectory that landed her on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera last spring. On March 19, Jennifer Rowley makes her highly anticipated Met debut as Musetta in Zeffirelli’s beloved production of La Bohème, reprising the role on March 22, 26 & 29 and April 10, 14 & 18.

On a sweltering day in August 2010, when the singer scheduled to perform the title role in Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan at the Caramoor Festival canceled due to illness, understudy Jennifer Rowley came in with just one rehearsal and gave a stunning performance that earned unanimous raves from critics and placed her firmly on the radar of opera houses and fans across the globe. Praised by The New York Times for her “fluid, darkly rich voice” and “scenery chewing, visceral” dramatic power, Rowley finally arrives on the Metropolitan Opera House stage on March 19, singing Musetta in La Bohème. She officially joined the Met’s roster in the spring of 2013, covering for Desdemona in Otello, but this will be her first scheduled appearance.

Musetta is becoming somewhat of a signature role for Rowley. NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, called her Musetta in Stefan Herheim’s inventive 2012 production at the Norwegian National Opera “infernal” with Opernwelt declaring her a “ravishing Musetta." The DVD recording was selected by The New York Times as one of the best recordings of 2012. Musetta will also be the role that finally brings Rowley to London for her long awaited Covent Garden debut in 2015.

Find out more at

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

The Dallas Opera Presents Tod Machover’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated opera Death and the Powers February 12, 14, 15 and 16
On February 16 at 2 pm Central Time, Dallas Opera presents the first-ever global interactive simulcast of an opera.  Remote audiences across ten worldwide locations will have the ability to actively participate and interact with the production in real time using an app for smartphones and tablets created by Machover’s MIT team.

Tod Machover, named ‘America’s most wired composer’ by LA Times, is the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future group. Death and the Powers brings a host of innovative technologies to the stage designed and created by a team of faculty, staff and students at MIT. The opera features an animatronic stage, a surround sound system with hundreds of speakers, nine semi-autonomous singing robots and an over-sized chandelier that emulates the human voice and responds to physical touch. Death and the Powers tells the story of Simon Powers, a powerful business man, who wishes to perpetuate his existence beyond the decay of his natural being.  Simon exits the stage and enters a soundproof booth where sensors are attached to his body. The sensors “communicate” his breathing, motions and voice to the chandelier and three electronic walls as Simon begs his family to join him in his altered state of existence.

--Kirshbaum, Demler & Associates

Maya Beiser Premiers All Vows with Glenn Kotche and Jherek Bischoff at Yerba Buena Center
Cellist Maya Beiser brings her newest production, All Vows, to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission Street) on March 21 and 22, 2014 at 8pm. Featuring performances by Maya with drummer Glenn Kotche and bassist Jherek Bischoff, All Vows explores the dichotomy between the physical, external world we inhabit and the inner landscape of our secret selves. It includes the Bay Area premieres of Michael Gordon's All Vows, Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint and Michael Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, all with original film by Bill Morrison, as well as world premieres by Glenn Kotche, David T. Little, Mohammed Fairouz, and Evan Ziporyn.

The first half of All Vows begins with a carefully curated set of “uncovers” crafted by Evan Ziporyn. Maya goes deep inside music by Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, and Howlin Wolf to reveal the core of each song as a musical masterpiece – a totem of our collective consciousness forged by our shared, popular culture. Composer and drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco contributes Three Parts Wisdom, a rhythmic and multilayered new work written for Maya that shifts between solo cello and solo cello with multiple pre-recorded cello tracks, evoking the experience of the individual alone and as part of a collective. Composer David T. Little, also a drummer and well-known for his dramatic classical and operatic compositions, has written Hellhound for Maya, a new work based on legendary bluesman Robert Johnson's 1937 song “Hellhound On My Trail,” which tells the story of a man pursued by demons, unable to rest.

The second half of All Vows delves into our inherent desire for ritual and meaning, and begins with Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz's new Kol Nidrei for cello and prerecorded sounds, in which the full text is sung in Aramaic and also engages echos of ancient cantorial styles. Michael Gordon's All Vows takes the Kol Nidrei as its starting point, and reimagines it entirely. Gordon's All Vows is paired with original film by acclaimed artist Bill Morrison, who uses archival footage, chemical process, and animation to create a stunning visual tapestry that illustrates, in Morrison's words, “the implication of an unknowable future as reflected through a dissolving historical document.” Composer Michael Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, with a film by Morrison that presents a unique view of the heavens, unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos – all utilizing “just intonation,” an ancient tuning system in which the distances between notes are based upon whole number ratios. Steve Reich's iconic work Cello Counterpoint, written for Maya in 2003 and scored for cello soloist with seven pre-recorded cello parts and film by Morrison, completes All Vows.

Films by Bill Morrison
Maya Beiser, cello
Glenn Kotche, drums, and Jherek Bischoff, bass
March 21 & 22, 2014 at 8 pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum
701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Tickets: $30 in Advance / $35 at the Door
Student, Senior, Teacher: $25 in Advance / $30 at the Door
YBCA Members: $25; YBCA:You FREE at 415.978.ARTS or

Watch Maya’s new NPR Tiny Desk Concert featuring music from All Vows at and Maya Beiser online at

--Christina Jensen PR

Cleveland Inteternational Piano Competition Announces Sweeping Changes to Young Artists Competition
Thursday, January 16, 2014, Cleveland, OH – Next year approximately 25 very gifted piano students from around the world will experience what may be the most exciting challenge of their young lives – the completely restructured CIPC Young Artists competition.

Launched by the Cleveland International Piano Competition (CIPC) in 2005 as a one-day competition for Ohio piano students, the program has been reorganized this year to follow the multi-round format of the CIPC.

The event will be held May 13-22, 2015 at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.  Contestants will participate in two age groups:  Juniors (age 12 to 15) and Seniors (age 16 to 18).  Pianists from any country are invited to apply; those who are accepted will be housed in dormitories on the Baldwin Wallace campus for the duration of the competition.

An institute will be held concurrently with the competition, during which time the students will receive master classes and coaching from members of the jury and guest lecturers.  The institute also will feature guest artist recitals and symposia.

Students in each age group will perform three solo rounds and one final round with orchestra in front of audiences and a professional jury.  All candidates will perform two rounds before the first jury vote.  Six candidates from each age group will advance to the Semi-Final round and two candidates from each age group will advance to the Final round.

The Jury:
Paul Schenly, Chairman, USA
Yoheved Kaplinsky, USA
Dorian Leljak, Serbia
Sean Schulze, USA/South Africa
Alexander Schimpf, Germany
Kyung Sook Lee, South Korea
Lei Weng, China

Junior Division:
John and Maxeen Flower First Prize: $10,000
Second Prize: $5,000
Third Prize: $2,500

Senior Division:
First Prize, presented by Zoya Reyzis: $25,000
Second Prize: $10,000
Third Prize: $5,000

The Junior Division First Prize is named in honor of John and Maxeen Flower, who endowed the CIPC Young Artists competition through a generous gift.  Dr. John Flower also was a long-serving member of the board of directors and was primarily responsible for the creation of the original youth competition in 2005.

The Senior Division First Prize is presented by Zoya Reyzis, who, along with her husband, Michael, has been a generous patron and member of the CIPC board of directors for many years.

All students interested in participating in the CIPC Young Artists competition will be required to apply online.  The process consists of completing an application form and uploading a performance video of 30 minutes that includes one movement of a Classical sonata (Beethoven, Haydn or Mozart) and one virtuosic etude of the candidate’s choice.  The application process will be open in the Spring of 2014.  Complete details will be available soon at

Competition Repertoire: Junior Division
First Round: 20 minutes of music
Second Round: 20 minutes of music

During the course of the First and Second Rounds, the following categories must be represented.  Categories may be repeated and audition repertoire may be repeated. Once the required categories are met, remaining time can be filled with repertoire of the candidate’s choice.

• A virtuosic etude by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff or Debussy.
• A Classical sonata by Beethoven, Haydn, or Mozart.
• A work/group of works written during the 20th or 21st century.
Semi-Final Round: 30 minutes of music
• A work/group of works by J.S. Bach
• A large-scale work/group of works by a Romantic composer
• If time permits, a work of the candidate’s choice
Final Round:  one movement of a concerto performed with the Cleveland International Piano Competition Orchestra. Selections appear below.

Competition Repertoire: Senior Division
First Round: 25 minutes of music
Second Round: 25 minutes of music

During the course of the First and Second Rounds, the following categories must be represented.  Categories may be repeated and audition repertoire may be repeated. Once the required categories are met, remaining time can be filled with repertoire of the contestant’s choice.

• A virtuosic etude by Chopin.
• A virtuosic etude by the candidate’s choice
• A Classical sonata by Beethoven, Haydn, or Mozart.
• A work/group of works written during the 20th or 21st century.
Semi-Final Round: 45 minutes of music
• A work/group of works by J.S. Bach
• A large-scale work/group of works by a Romantic composer
• If time permits, a work of the candidate’s choice
Final Round: one movement of a concerto performed with the Cleveland International Piano Competition Orchestra. Selections appear below.

Concerto Repertoire:  Junior and Senior Divisions
W.A. Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, first movement; Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, first movement
L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op.15, first movement; Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37, first movement
F. Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25, first movement OR second and third movements Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 40, first movement OR second and third movements
F. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21, first movement
E. Grieg: Piano Concerto in in A Minor, Op. 16, first movement

For more information visit the CIPC website,

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

West Edge Opera’s Valentine’s Day-Themed Concert at the Piedmont Center for the Arts is February 14th
"Something Sweet" features three real-life operatic couples in romantic operatic repertoire.

West Edge Opera presents "Something Sweet," the third in it’s holiday-themed concerts at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont, CA, on Friday, February 14, at 7:30 pm. The concert features some of the most lavishly romantic music ever composed, sung by some extremely talented Bay Area opera stars – singers who are couples in real life. The featured couples are mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott and tenor Pedro Rodelas, mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesosno and tenor Adam Flowers, and baritones Dan Kempson and Zachary Altman. The Piedmont Center for the Arts is at 801 Magnolia Avenue in Piedmont, CA.

California native Buffy Baggott has gained recognition throughout the United States as an accomplished and highly versatile lyric mezzo soprano. An alumnus of apprenticeships with the Santa Fe Opera and Chicago’s prestigious Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, she has appeared with the San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose and West Edge Opera locally, and also with Sacramento Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Lyric Opera Chicago. Pedro Rodelas is a graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio and has performed with opera companies, orchestras, and ensembles throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America. He is currently a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. In addition to his operatic repertoire, he enjoys performing music of Latin America, including zarzuela, mariachi, and tango. In 2000, he was honored with the Disco de Oro at the Festival de la Canción National Competition in San Francisco where he received the first place award for his performance of "Granada" by Agustin Lara.

For more information, call 510-841-1903 or go to West Edge Opera’s Web site at

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

American Bach Soloists Present Bach’s Hercules February 21-24, 2014
The 25th season celebration continues with an all-Bach program including Missa Brevis, Hercules At The Crossroads Cantata, and the Orchestral Suite No. 1.

American Bach Soloists 25th season celebration continues February 21-24 with “Bach’s Hercules,” an all-Bach program of favorite works chosen by ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas. The program showcases the composer’s genius for creating masterpieces within different musical formats and settings: liturgical, intimate instrumental suite, and dramatic secular cantata. Thomas and his orchestra of Baroque specialists, “some of the greatest period-instrument players in the world” (San Francisco Classical Voice), will present this diverse and engaging program in four Northern California venues: Belvedere, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis.

“Bach’s Hercules” features three exquisite works: the Missa Brevis in G Major, the Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major, and Cantata 213. Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen, about the mythic Hercules, includes an opening chorus, arias, and duets that were later utilized in the “Christmas Oratorio.”

Elegantly streamlined, the Missa Brevis in G Major is one of Bach’s four “Little Masses” or settings of the Gloria and Kyrie portions of the Mass. Thomas will direct the esteemed American Bach Choir and four superb soloists: soprano Kathryn Mueller, countertenor Ian Howell, tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Jesse Blumberg. The Orchestral Suite (or Ouverture) in C Major is a tour de force for the ensemble’s two oboes and bassoon, which will be played by oboists Debra Nagy and Stephen Bard and bassoonist Dominic Teresi.

For more information, click

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Elizabeth Blumenstock Leads Baroque Program Including J.S. Bach, Muffat, and Telemann, March 5-9, 2014 in San Francisco, Berkeley, Stanford, and Livermore, CA
Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock leads the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in a program of virtuoso Baroque works by composers including Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Phillip Telemann, Georg Muffat, and others. Concerts take place from March 5-9, 2014 at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall (Thursday, March 6); San Francisco's SFJAZZ Center (Friday, March 7); and at First Congregational Church in Berkeley (Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9). The Orchestra makes its debut at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, California, with a performance on Wednesday, March 5. Tickets are priced from $25 to $93.

Elizabeth Blumenstock is widely admired for her compelling verve and dazzling performances on the Baroque violin. She leads the Orchestra on a tour of works by musical innovators such as Johann Schmelzer, who played a key role in the development of the sonata form, and Heinrich Biber, regarded as a pioneer of violin technique who popularized the use of multiple stops and experimented with scordatura, or unusual tunings for stringed instruments.

Tickets are priced $25 to $93, available through City Box Office: or call (415) 392-4400.

Tickets for the performance on March 6 at Bing Concert Hall may be purchased at

Tickets for the performance on March 5 at the Bankhead Theater may be purchased at

--Ben Casement-Stoll, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Bang on a Can Goes to Moscow for the Bang on a Can Music Institute at National Center for Contemporary Arts February 23-27, 2014
The “relentlessly inventive” (New York magazine) new music collective Bang on a Can continues its mission to create an international community dedicated to innovative music in Moscow, Russia from February 23-27, 2014, when it partners with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for The Bang on a Can Music Institute at the National Center for Contemporary Arts (NCCA). The five-day, hands-on initiative brings together eleven Russian musicians with the renowned Bang on a Can All-Stars for an intense program dedicated entirely to the performance of adventurous contemporary music. The Institute kicks off and culminates with performances by the Bang on a Can All-Stars at Strasnoy Theater on February 23 and February 27. Additionally, the All-Stars will be performing a special, joint concert with PRO ARTE ensemble in St. Petersburg at the Alexandrinsky Theatre on Saturday, March 1. This will be the third visit by the Bang on a Can All-Stars to Russia, where they last performed in March 2012.

The Bang on a Can Music Institute in Moscow is a five-day residency that will bring together eleven performers from across Russia who have been selected to participate in a program that emphasizes musical collaboration through workshops, seminars, rehearsals, and performances featuring the young Russian musicians (called “fellows”) playing side-by-side with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who are among today's leading and innovative contemporary American musicians. The Bang on a Can All-Stars have dedicated their lives to commissioning, rehearsing, recording and performing music beyond the cutting edge and are delighted with the opportunity to work alongside Russia's like-minded musicians.

Watch Bang on a Can Online:
More information:

--Christina Jensen PR

Pianist Jonathan Biss Plays Beethoven Sonatas and Works by Brahms, Kurtág, and Chopin on February 16 at 3:00 P.M. in Hertz Hall, Berkeley
Pianist Jonathan Biss returns to Berkeley for a sold out recital presented by Cal Performances on Sunday, February 16, at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall. Biss will play works by Brahms, Kurtág, and Chopin, and conclude his recital with two Beethoven sonatas, including the epic Waldstein—timely selections, as the pianist is one-third of the way through an epic nine-disc recording project in which he plays all 32 Beethoven sonatas. “Mr. Biss’s style … brings out the works’ drama and excitement, the sudden harmonic and dynamic contrasts, the pauses and changes of direction that must have jolted listeners in Beethoven’s time” (The New York Times). Jonathan Biss made his Cal Performances debut in 2006 and last appeared here in 2012.

Jonathan Biss’s wide-ranging musical interests are on full display in his recital’s diverse program. The program opens with Johannes Brahms’ Klavierstücke. These four brief pieces—three intermezzos and a rhapsody—were written late in the composer’s career and display a beguilingly subtle yet masterful simplicity. Selections from Játékok by Hungarian composer György Kurtág are next; “Játékok” translates as “Games,” and these very short pieces—some as brief as one minute in length—are an ongoing project by Kurtág to create fragmentary, intimate, and often humorous musical elements that can be chosen and combined by the performer. Next on Jonathan Biss’s recital are the last two Nocturnes published by Frédéric Chopin. Delicate and lovely, these pieces are beloved by pianists and listeners alike. Another very late Chopin work, the Polonaise-Fantaisie, follows; the work has roots in Polish dances, but is often noted for having more fantaisie than Polonaise. Two sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven—No. 27 in E minor, and No. 21 in C major (known as Waldstein)—conclude the recital. The first sonata is a gentle, loving work, while the second—composed the same year as Beethoven’s revolutionary Eroica symphony—is an ambitious piece of music that rode advancements in piano technology in the first years of the 19th century.

Jonathan Biss made his New York recital debut in 2000 at just 20 years of age, and in the ensuing years this American pianist has been closely watched and widely praised for his performances in orchestral, recital, chamber music, and recording studio settings. His musical repertoire ranges from Mozart and Beethoven to living composers such as Leon Kirchner and Timo Andrews. This season he is performing with orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the United States and Europe (including a World Premiere of a new piano concerto by Bernard Rands with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano in April 2014), in addition to performing a short series of recitals in the US and France. In 2011 Biss began a project to record all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, an effort that has yielded three albums so far—the most recent released on January 14, 2014—and which should be completed by 2020. In addition to performing, Biss is a faculty member at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Jonathan Biss, piano on Sunday, February 16, at 3:00 p.m. in Hertz Hall are sold out. For ticket inquiries, please contact the Cal Performances 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

Bridget Kibbey Performs World Premiere of Vivian Fung’s Harp Concerto with Alabama Symphony February 13, 2014
Harpist Bridget Kibbey, known for bringing adventurous programming to her instrument, will perform the world premiere of composer Vivian Fung’s  Harp Concerto with the Alabama Symphony in Birmingham, AL on February 13, 2014. Singled out as “one of today’s most eclectic composers” (NPR) and a writer of music of “dramatic urgency and depth” (The San Francisco Chronicle), recent Juno winner Vivian Fung enters the rarefied universe of harp composition with her latest concerto for Kibbey, a harp virtuoso passionate about new music who has been praised for her “blazing power and finesse” (The New York Times) and for “singlehandedly spring-boarding a new repertoire for her instrument” (Lucid Culture).

Following the premiere, led by intrepid conductor laureate Justin Brown, Kibbey performs the work again in six other concerts in Germany and the U.S. over the course of 2014. “Working so closely with soloists who are passionate about delving into my sound world is a very powerful experience that feeds me with inspiration,” says Ms. Fung. “Bridget has a wonderful rhythmic and virtuosic way of playing, and I really wanted to highlight that.”

Fung’s Harp Concerto was commissioned by a consortia of ensembles comprised of the Alabama Symphony, Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe in Germany, Metropolis Ensemble in NYC, the Phillips Collection in DC, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Consisting of an introduction and three continuous movements and scored for harp, strings, and percussion, the work begins with a rhythmic melody that is bent and twisted over mixed meters, coaxing unexpected colors and groove from an instrument that has for too long been relegated to glissandi and arpeggios. From this initial movement, which takes cues from traditional music for jakhe, a crocodile-shaped zither from Thailand, the concerto goes on to upend other preconceived notions of the harp with a dizzying, unpredictable cadenza that showcases Kibbey’s technique; macabre and disjointed dances; and a preparation of the instrument using card stock that underscores its bass register.

For more details about the tour and Bridget Kibbey’s upcoming season, please visit

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

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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