Classical Music News of the Week, February 16, 2014

The American Classical Orchestra kicks off HANDELFEST with a Family Concert on March 1, 2014 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, NYC at 1:30 PM

Join the American Classical Orchestra for HANDELFEST, the first festival event from ACO that celebrates the music of Handel during the month of March. The festivities get under way with a family-friendly concert at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament (152 W 71st St., NYC) featuring some of Handel’s most uplifting works. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 212-362-2727.

A full 35-piece period orchestra opens the festival with a performance of the grandiose Music for Royal Fireworks. Soloists from Samson (Megan Chartrand and John Taylor Ward) perform some of Handel’s most famous arias including “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” “Let the Bright Seraphim,” and “Lascia Ch’io pianga.” In addition, the 70-member New York City Children’s Chorus joins for excerpts from Messiah, including “Lift Up Your Heads” and a participatory “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Handel is even slated for a guest appearance as well. The public concert is part of the ACO’s Classical Music for Kids outreach program in which ACO members perform for nearly 5,000 students at 20 New York City public schools. This family concert is the perfect way to commence this incredible festival, presented by the American Classical Orchestra.

For its first-ever festival event, HANDELFEST, the American Classical Orchestra collaborates with some of the world’s leading artists and experts for an exceptional month of music celebrating George Frederick Handel.

Following the family concert will be Handel’s Samson on March 4, 2014 at 8pm at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, NYC. The celebrated Handelian Nicholas McGegan makes his first appearance with the ACO, conducting what is widely considered one of the crowning achievements of Handel’s oeuvre. Tenor Thomas Cooley sings the title role.

Also at Alice Tully Hall on March 19, 2014 at 8pm, ACO presents Alceste, a work from Handel rarely heard in its entirety today. Eminent choreographer John Heginbotham joins the production and Cynthia Edwards (formerly of New York City Opera) stage directs. The program also features Handel’s double wind band work Concerti a due cori and the choral showcase Utrecht Jubilate. Be sure to arrive early for a pre-concert lecture by one of the world’s most venerated musicologists, Neal Zaslaw.

For more information, go to

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

Second Annual PARMA Music Festival Announced
PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the second annual PARMA Music Festival on Wednesday, August 13 through Saturday, August 16, 2014 in Portsmouth, NH. The four-day festival will include day-and night-time events and performances and will conclude with a concert at The Music Hall on August 16.

--Rory Cooper, Parma Recordings

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Announces 2014 Season July 2--August 25
Pianist Yefim Bronfman to be 2014 Artist-in-Residence, performing a solo recital August 19 featuring Prokofiev Sonatas and Marc Neikrug’s Passions, Reflected.

“Bach Plus” Five-Concert Series including all six Brandenburg Concerti performed over two concerts plus a solo piano recital by Benjamin Hochman

Two all-Beethoven programs to feature the composer’s last works for cach instrument or ensemble, including a brief, rarely performed Fugue for String Quintet in D Major, Op. 137

2014 commissions include:
Festival commission and world premiere by Brett Dean, featuring soprano Tony Arnold and the Orion String Quartet

Festival co-commission and U.S. premiere by Julian Anderson, performed by the FLUX Quartet

Festival co-commission and New Mexico premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Four Seasons Op. 123, featuring Mezzo-Soprano Sasha Cooke and the composer playing piano

Second annual Young Composers’ String Quartet Workshop, featuring works by Ryan Chase and Tonia Ko, performed by the FLUX Quartet

Artists Making Festival debut:
Alessio Bax, piano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Ran Dank, piano; Dover Quartet; Caleb Hudson, trumpet; William Kinderman, piano/lecturer; Mark Kosower, cello; Leigh Mesh, bass; O’Connor String Quartet; James Shields, clarinet; Wilhelmina Smith, cello; Pei-Yao Wang, piano; and Stephen Williamson, clarinet.

Gala to be held July 22, including a silent auction, wine auction, performance and dinner.

Subscriptions available now & single tickets on sale February 24 from or by phone (505) 982-1890

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

March 9 at Lincoln Center: Cameron Carpenter launches the Organ Heard 'Round The World
The genre-defying virtuoso organist gives his International Touring Organ its world premiere in two Lincoln Center concerts on March 9. A European tour, Sony debut album, and feature-length film complete the instrument’s explosive debut

Cameron Carpenter, the “extravagantly talented" (The New York Times) “smasher of cultural and classical music taboos" (The New Yorker), debuts his long-awaited International Touring Organ in two concerts at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, NYC on March 9, 2014. The unveiling concert at 2pm is followed by a Dedication Concert at 7pm, tickets $35-$200. ($100 and $200 ticketholders have access to additional private events and a champagne reception). The concerts, each with different programs, feature music by Bach, Bernstein, Demessieux, Dupré, Scriabin, Vaughan Williams and many others, including the world premiere performance of Cameron’s Music For An Imaginary Film (2013).

The simplicity of Cameron’s mandate – that a great organist, like any other great musician, should have a personal instrument upon which to perform consistently anywhere in the world – belies its ambitiousness. To make a mobile digital organ artistically and sonically equal to any of the world’s great organs is so monumental a project as to have taken nearly ten years, the emergence of maverick organbuilders Marshall & Ogletree LLC, and a historic cooperation between two of the world’s most powerful musical managements (CAMI Music LLC and Konzertdirektion Schmid) to complete.

For more information on Cameron Carpenter, click

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space presents Andrew Henderson on the N.P. Mander Organ Sunday, February 23 at 3pm at NYC’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
Hear the spectacular N.P. Mander Organ played by celebrated organist Andrew Henderson on February 23, 2014 at 3pm. He will perform selections from Bach, Widor, Grier, and Weaver at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. Call 212-288-2520 or click here for tickets.

Henderson will perform Bach’s Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue, which he describes as “one of the great composer’s longest freely-composed works for the organ.” He will also perform Flourish and Reverie, a fascinating work from the great 20th century English composer Francis Grier. Henderson learned this piece specifically for this performance and says, “It requires a myriad of contrasting sounds that I believe will sound fabulous at St. Ignatius: the fanfare-like ‘Flourish’ declaimed on different combinations of reed stops (Trumpets, Oboes, Cromornes), with the expansive and hypnotic “Reverie” being written for the colorful flute stops.”

Henderson will also perform a piece composed by his former organ teacher and predecessor as Director of Music at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, organist John Weaver. Weaver is a published composer of fascinating works for the organ, including his ebullient Toccata (1959). Henderson will perform an unpublished prelude from Weaver’s Beach Spring, which is a beautiful, inventive setting of an early American hymn tune first published in The Sacred Harp, 1844.

For more information, click

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

Young People's Chorus of New York City Annual Gala
Francisco J. Núñez, Artistic Director/Founder
Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC.

Don't miss this year's one-performance-only musical spectacular, featuring:
All 350 YPC after-school choristers, The New York Pops, and special guest artists Broadway's Mary Poppins Ashley Brown and NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis.

In a musical revue featuring folk, jazz, and classical music and incredible Broadway production numbers from West Side Story, Mary Poppins, and more.

Tickets prices:  $60, $75, $100, $125, and $300.
For best seats, buy now at Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office (Broadway and 60th Street), CenterCharge 212-721-6500, or online at

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

92Y March Concerts
Saturday, March 1, 8:00 PM
Brentano String Quartet and pianist Vijay Iyer
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Monday, March 10, 7:30 PM
Pianist Benjamin Hochman
92Y Concerts at SubCulture, NYC

Saturday, March 22, 8:00 PM
Guitarist David Russell
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

Sunday, March 30, 3:00 PM
Pianist Yefim Bronfman and musicians from the New York Philharmonic

Tickets are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Ashlyn Damm, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI Join with Mexico’s Tembembe Ensamble Continuo to Perform Baroque Music of Europe and the Americas at First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA, on March 1
Returning to Cal Performances for a sold-out performance, Jordi Savall and his historical music ensemble, Hespèrion XXI, join Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, a Mexican group dedicated to ancient music of the New World, on March 1 at 8:00 p.m. in First Congregational Church. A perennial presence at Cal Performances and always a Berkeley favorite, Savall and his ensemble will perform “Folías Antiquas & Criollas: From the Ancient World to the New World”—a program that explores links between the early music of Europe and music created in the Western Hemisphere. “Instinct and scholarship, impeccable musicality, and a true sense of theater merge as Savall brings to life sounds that are half a millennium old,” raves the San Francisco Chronicle. “And how modern they seem, how thrilling and how new is all this music first heard so long ago.”

The composers highlighted in Folías Antiquas & Criollas include Diego Ortiz, Pedro Guerrero Moresca, Código Trujillo, Antonio de Cabezón, Juan del Enzina, Santiago de Murcia, Antonio Martín y Coll, Juan Pérez de Bocanegra, Francisco Correa de Arauxo, and Antonio Valente. The works that cannot be identified with specific authors—in particular, the folk songs and dance music—hail from throughout Latin America. Although these composers’ names are lost to history, their works—many of which include improvisatory sections created by the performers—resonate through the centuries.

Jordi Savall is a tireless performer, enthusiastic educator, and thoughtful scholar on early music. He has rediscovered and restored countless works of music from the 18th century and before, and has performed them around the world. Barcelona-born Savall is widely credited with reviving modern interest in the viola da gamba, a stringed instrument that was popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras. In addition to leading Hespèrion XXI, Savall has created a record label, Alia Vox, and founded and directed La Capella Reial and Le Concert des Nations, two groups dedicated to historical music performance. Hespèrion XXI was founded (as Hespèrion XX) in 1974 by Savall. Taking its name from hesperia, the ancient name for the Italian and Iberian peninsulas, the 21st-century musicians of the ensemble are dedicated to reconstructing the rich music from other ages—specifically, music from the 10th to the 18th century—and thereby breathing new life into current musical thinking.  Members of Hespèrion XXI include Xavier Díaz-Latorre, theorbo and guitar; Andrew Lawrence-King, arpa cruzada; Xavier Puertas, violone; and David Mayoral, percussion.

Ticket information:
Tickets for Jordi Savall with Hespèrion XXI and Tembembe Ensamble Continuo on Saturday, March 1, at 8:00 p.m. in First Congregational Church is sold out. Tickets may become available; check with Cal Performances’ Ticket Office at (510) 642-9988. Tickets are priced at $68.00 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

2014 American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy Tickets Now on Sale
The 5th Annual Festival “Bach’s Inspiration” July 11-20 presented at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Highlights include Bach’s arrangement of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and two performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, plus a Distinguished Artist Recital by soprano Mary Wilson.

The American Bach Soloists (ABS) are pleased to announce that tickets for the 2014 American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy are now on sale. Titled “Bach’s Inspiration,” the 2014 Festival will trace the influences of Italian, French, and North German composers on J.S. Bach’s life and music. Works by Vivaldi, Handel, Buxtehude, and Bach’s forbears will be presented alongside masterworks by ABS’s namesake in a Festival line-up that promises to be the best in the five-year history of the Festival.

Festival highlights include our annual performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor along with Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for Four Violins, Kuhnau’s Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, and a work by Bach’s elder cousin Johann Christoph Bach, Es erhub sich ein Striet. The performances of the Mass, a popular and always highly anticipated Festival tradition, will be performed by the ABS Festival Orchestra—an ensemble comprised of ABS and members of the ABS Academy—under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas.

All Concerts held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco.

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder Returns to Perform with the Cleveland Orchestra for the First Time in 15 Years
The “Viennese oracle” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) pianist Rudolf Buchbinder returns to perform for the first time in fifteen years with The Cleveland Orchestra led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 7:30pm; Friday, March 7, 2014 at 7pm; and Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8pm at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave.). Rudolf Buchbinder will perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at all three concerts.

Over the course of two years, Rudolf Buchbinder is performing with all of the “Big Five” American orchestras. Following his acclaimed concerts with the New York Philharmonic under Music Director Alan Gilbert in February 2013 and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi in March 2013, he appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Riccardo Muti in June 2013 for the first time in over thirty years. He was immediately invited back for another engagement with the CSO during the 2014-2015 season. During the 2013-2014 season, in addition to his concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra, he will perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Manfred Honeck (June 13-15, 2014). In the fall of 2014, he returns to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time in over twenty years.

You can find more about Rudolf Buchbinder at his official Web site:

--Christina Jensen PR

Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Release New 3-for-1 Sets on February 25, 2014
Including Claudio Arrau, Alfred Brendel, Viktoria Mullova, Jessye Norman, Beaux Arts Trio, Claudio Abbado, Vladimir Horowitz, Magdalena Kozena, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Gil Shaham.

Celebrating some of the most iconic classical artists, Deutsche Grammophon and Decca announce a new 3-for-1 limited edition series featuring three outstanding / renowned albums from a single iconic artist, for the price of just a single album.

Each of the three albums is presented with a brief new essay plus track list.  The handsome slipcase artwork underscores the iconic status held by most of these albums. These sets are Limited Editions with only 1000 available across North America.

The first five Decca 3-for-1 sets include performances by the late Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel, Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova, Grammy award-winning opera singer Jessye Norman, and renowned piano trio, the Beaux Arts Trio.

Deutsche Grammophon’s initial 3-for-1 sets will include Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, American classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena, Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, and Israeli-American violinist Gil Shaham.

--Casey Corrigan, Universal Music Classics

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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