Classical Music News of the Week, March 23, 2014
The National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra, led by Artistic Director Stan Engebretson, will present Bach's Mass in B Minor on Saturday, April 12 at 8 pm and Sunday, April 13 at 3 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. In addition to the nearly 200 voice all-volunteer chorale, the concert will feature soloists Rosa Lamoreaux (soprano); Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano); Matthew Smith (tenor); and Christòpheren Nomura (baritone).
A beloved part of the classical repertoire, the exquisite Mass in B Minor is renowned for its musical complexity and personal, political and religious intrigues. It was the last work of Bach's life, completed shortly before his death in 1750. This masterpiece elevated the choral art form to a state of transcendence that reflects Bach's deep religious and aesthetic convictions.
Bach lived in Leipzig for a decade after his appointment to the Thomaschule (school) of the Thomaskirche (Thomas Church) as Director of Choir and Music. During this time he had reached the heights of his composition skills in organ, choral and instrumental music. Despite his large body of work and his renown as an organist, Bach found himself at increasing odds with his employer, the City Council of Leipzig.
The year 1733 provided the political leverage that Bach had been seeking. Following the death of the Prince-Elector of Saxony, predominantly Lutheran Germany in the northeast followed the tradition of converting to Catholicism. Bach had already recompiled many of his Lutheran religious cantatas so that they could be performed for a wealthy patron of the arts in a Catholic church where Lutheran music was forbidden. Members of Bach's family smuggled the manuscripts for Part I of the Mass out of Leipzig so that they could be rehearsed and performed in the royal court of Dresden. The Kyrie and Gloria, liturgical texts common to both religions, was a welcome salute for the new ruler. Received with acclaim, Bach was finally named the Compositeur of the Royal Court of Dresden in 1736. The leverage gained by this title enabled Bach to finally resolve his differences with the City of Leipzig.
A free lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, April 12 and at 1:45 pm on Sunday, April 13 in the Concert Hall at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to Bach's Mass in B minor on Saturday, April 12 or Sunday, April 13, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore ticket office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets are $28-$84; kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. Parking is complimentary.
--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic
US Premiere: The Discovery of Heaven. New York Philharmonic; Sir Andrew Davis, Conductor
"The Discovery of Heaven... is not so much a spiritual quest as an exploration of heaven on earth, evoking sounds of a balmy summer night as well as the joyful, tuneful humanity of a sun-blessed city street." --The Financial Times, 26 March 2012
On Thursday, April 24, 2014, British composer Julian Anderson's The Discovery of Heaven will receive its US première from the New York Philharmonic conducted by Sir Andrew Davis at Avery Fisher Hall. The Orchestra will give two further performances of the work on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 April.
As described in The Guardian: "The Discovery of Heaven, Julian Anderson's striking new work for the London Philharmonic, takes its title from Harry Mulisch's 1992 novel. The vast sweep of that book, juxtaposing the mythic and timeless with the contemporary and the everyday, was a starting point for Anderson's abstract, 22-minute piece, in which rapt, slowly moving textures vie for dominance with music that is rowdy and discontinuous." Composed in three movements (An Echo from Heaven; In the Street; Hymns), Anderson also cites the music of Japanese Gagaku (or court music), dating from 9th century, and the music of Jánacek as its influences.
Written in 2011, The Discovery of Heaven is a New York Philharmonic co-commission with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) dedicated to Jonathan Harvey. Winner of the classical category at the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2013, it was premièred by the LPO under the baton of Ryan Wigglesworth at London's Royal Festival Hall in March 2012.
The Discovery of Heaven is also featured on a disc released by the LPO to mark Anderson's 3-year tenure as their Composer in Residence. In addition to the live recording of the world première of The Discovery of Heaven, the disc features Fantasias (2009), which was commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra following a two-year residency as the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow (2005-2007), and The Crazed Moon (1997).
For more information, visit
--Moe Faulkner, Macbeth Media Relations
Music Institute Spotlights Distinguished Alumna Inna Faliks May 3
For its fourth annual Distinguished Alumni Concert, the Music Institute of Chicago presents pianist Inna Faliks Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Il.
Faliks, whose mother Irene Faliks joined the Music Institute's piano faculty in 1990, offers an imaginative concert program to explore the connection between words and music. Faliks will perform Beethoven's Fantasie Op. 77 and Sonata Op. 111; Satie's Sonatine Bureaucratique; and Schumann's Davidsbundler Op. 6.
After studying at the Music Institute with Emilio del Rosario, Inna worked with such towering figures as Leon Fleisher, Ann Schein, and Gilbert Kalish, eventually earning a doctor of musical arts degree from Stony Brook University in New York. She has performed in some of the world's most distinguished venues, including Carnegie Hall's Weill Concert Hall, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris' Salle Cortot, Chicago's Symphony Center, and many more. Critics have described her as "a soloist in total command of her instrument" and "a concert pianist of the highest order." This year, Inna joined the prestigious faculty of UCLA as a tenured associate professor of piano.
Music Institute of Chicago
The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, its mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to become one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation. Offering musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Pre-collegiate Arts Schools (ACCPAS). Each year, the Music Institute's teachers and arts therapists reach thousands of students and clients of all ages and levels of experience. The Music Institute opened a new location this fall at Fourth Presbyterian Church's Gratz Center in downtown Chicago. Other Music Institute locations include Evanston, Winnetka, Lincolnshire, Lake Forest, and Downers Grove. In addition, the Music Institute is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Chicago Public Schools through its Arts Link program. The Music Institute offers lessons and classes, creative arts therapy, and concerts through its Community School, Academy, Institute for Therapy through the Arts (ITA), and Nichols Concert Hall.
Pianist Inna Faliks performs for the Music Institute of Chicago's annual Distinguished Alumni Concert Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Il.
Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students, available at brownpapertickets.com/event/456089 or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. For more information visit musicinst.org.
--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin Launch Its Fourth U.S. Tour
Tour coincides with the release of "Adagio and Fugues - W.A. Mozart after J.S. Bach," available Tuesday, April 8, 2014.
It has too often been overlooked that, between Bach's death in 1750 and the triumphant revival of his "St Matthew Passion" by Mendelssohn in 1829, other composers had already investigated the oeuvre of this "old master". Mozart was the most fervent among them. When he was introduced to "The Well-Tempered Clavier" collection, he wrote to his father, "Every Sunday at twelve I go to Baron van Swieten's - and nothing is played there except Handel and Bach. I'm currently making myself a collection of Bach fugues."
For its new release "Adagio and Fugues - W.A. Mozart after J.S. Bach," the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin performs Mozart's string arrangements of Bach's Adagio and Fugues from "The Well-Tempered Clavier," bringing the work of two brilliant composers to life.
The orchestra marks the release with a series of North American concerts, including return engagements in Los Angeles at Disney Hall, Berkeley's Cal Performances, New York's Zankel Hall, and the Folly Theater in Kansas City, MO, along with sold out performances in Denver, Boston, and Washington.
U.S. Tour March 29 - April 13, 2014:
March 29 - Berkeley, CA - Cal Performances, First Congregational Church
March 30 - Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles Philharmonic, Disney Concert Hall
April 2 - Denver, CO - Denver Friends of Chamber Music, Newman Center
April 5 - Washington, DC - Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium
April 6 - Boston, MA - Gardner Museum Concerts, Calderwood Hall
April 8 - New York, NY - Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall
April 11 - Kansas City, MO - Friends of Chamber Music, Folly Theater
April 13 - Ann Arbor, MI - University Musical Society, Hill Auditorium
--Sarah Folger, Harmonia Mundi, USA
The Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot Announce Launch of Record Label: Seattle Symphony Media
The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot announce the launch of Seattle Symphony Media, the Symphony's in-house record label, with its first three recordings scheduled for release in April.
The first three releases on the new label feature Ludovic Morlot conducting the Seattle Symphony in works by French and American composers, celebrating the flourishing relationship between French conductor and American orchestra that has electrified audiences in Seattle. The discs include works by Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, George Gershwin, Henri Dutilleux, Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns.
The Seattle Symphony has an extensive catalogue of over 140 recordings, which have brought forth twelve Grammy Award nominations throughout its history. Under the leadership of Ludovic Morlot, now in his third season as Music Director, and Executive Director Simon Woods, the Symphony plans to build a new discography to include both live and in-studio recordings spanning genres and time periods and including both "core repertoire" and some of the eclectic and contemporary programming the Seattle Symphony has become recognized for at home.
The launch of the label has been made possible through an innovative media agreement with the Seattle Symphony's musicians, agreed as part of a new contract ratified in 2013. Under the agreement, the organization – unusual among American orchestras – is able to release a significant number of recordings each year from both live concerts and "studio" sessions, which will allow the building of a significant catalog over a relatively short period. The Symphony's musicians will share in the label's net revenue, and have a voice in planning and contractual matters. All recordings are made in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall using the Symphony's own state-of-the art in-house recording facility, supervised by audio engineer Dmitriy Lipay.
An important characteristic of the label is the combination of live and studio recordings which allows the organization an unprecedented breadth of repertoire choices that are less easily achieved with an "all-live" label. Recordings, which are being distributed by Naxos of America, will be available in both physical and digital formats from a variety of retailers.
The recordings have been engineered to audiophile standards and aim to capture as realistically as possible the sound of the orchestra performing on the Benaroya Hall stage, with naturalistic imaging, depth of field and dynamic range. Digital content will be available in four formats: regular stereo, "Mastered for iTunes," 96k 24-bit high resolution, and 5.1 surround sound.
For more information and sound clips, visit http://recordings.seattlesymphony.org/Recordings.
--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum, Demler & Associates
The Bach Sinfonia Presents C.P.E. Bach's Sensitive Side, in Honor of the 300th Birthday of Carl Philipp Emanuel
On Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8PM, in honor of the 300th birthday of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (b. 6 March 1714), Sinfonia explores the music of his Empfindsamer Stil ("Sensitive Style") through the two G Major Symphonies, H. 657 (Wq. 182/1)  and H. 648 (Wq. 173) , a concerto (featuring Douglas Poplin, violoncello soloist) and a set of variations (featuring Adam Pearl , harpsichord soloist). The wide range of emotional expression, unpredictability, intense drama, and "playing from the soul" of the sensitive style finds its roots in literary circles. With no clear musical precursors and only a tenuous relationship to the Viennese Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress") of the 1770s, the fluid shifting and turbulence of this style is always exciting for performers and audience alike. The concert will take place at the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College, Silver Spring, MD.
Douglas Poplin will perform the Concerto for Violoncello in A Minor, H. 432 (Wq. 170), the first of three cello concertos composed by C.P.E. Bach. The outside movements of the concerto are cast in the ritornello form he inherited from Vivaldi and his father, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Adam Pearl, harpsichord instructor at the Peabody Conservatory, will perform C.P.E. Bach's rarely heard 12 Variationes über die Follies d'Espagne ("La Folia Variation"), H. 263 (Wq.118/9), a set of 12 variations on the Folia (Fo-lee-ah) theme. This is a tour de force for keyboard -- a virtuosic showpiece which reflects the composer's own brilliance at the keyboard.
The program will include the first hearing in North America of a recently identified Sinfonia by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. W.F. Bach's Sinfonia in D Major, Br C-Inc.16 was recently published as part of the new collected works edition. The attribution of the work is based on a single surviving source--a set of parts listing C.P.E. Bach as the composer. This unique chapter of the pre-classical period aims to "touch the heart and move the affections."
Date and time:
Saturday, April 5, 2014 AT 8PM
Free Pre-Concert Discussion at 7:20PM
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910
More information about tickets are at www.bachsinfonia.org
--Jennifer Buzzell, Bach Sinfonia
Woodstock Mozart Festival Announces 28th Season, July 24-August 10
Mozart, Rossini, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi and More on Programs at Two Venues:
Woodstock Opera House and Sanfilippo Foundation's Place de la Musique
The Woodstock Mozart Festival expands its venue options for its 28th season to include the Woodstock Opera House and, new this year, the Sanfilippo Foundation's Place de la Musique concert hall in Barrington Hills. Performances take place July 24–August 10. Single tickets go on sale April 7.
To kick off the 2014 season, the Woodstock Mozart Festival hosts a benefit, "Be Amazed!", April 12 at the Place de la Musique. The event includes a tour of the Sanfilippo estate, a magnificent mansion decorated in Grand Epoch and Art Deco styles that houses the world's largest pipe organ in its concert hall and is filled with fully restored and operating antique musical instruments, at 5 p.m. A concert in the chandeliered concert hall, featuring pianist Igor Lipinski and violinist Kevin Case, takes place at 6:30 p.m., with an encore by the world's largest pipe organ. The evening concludes with a post-show reception in the Carousel Pavilion, home of the world's most complete original European Salon Carousel. Tickets are $150 and available at mozartfest.org.
For the 2014 Woodstock Mozart Festival, the Woodstock Opera House program lineup is as follows:
July 26 and 27: Conductor Istvan Jaray joins clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein for Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri Overture; Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, K. 622; and Haydn's Symphony No. 101, "Clock."
August 2 and 3: Conductor Istvan Jaray returns to perform with pianist Igor Lipinski on Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Op. 26 and two Mozart works: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466 and Symphony No. 36, K. 425, "Linz."
August 9: Violinist Igor Gruppman, who also conducts, and violinist/violist Vesna Gruppman return by popular demand after their 2012 and 2013 Festival participation, performing Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525; Vivaldi's The Four Seasons "Winter," Op. 8, No. 4 and his Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 8 RV 522; Warlock's Capriol Suite for Strings; and two works by Piazzolla: Oblivion and The Four Seasons.
The Place de la Musique programs are as follows:
July 24: Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein and pianist Igor Lipinski present a chamber music concert, featuring Mozart's Piano Quartet, K. 478 and his Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, "Stadler's," followed by a clarinet master class.
August 10: Violinist Igor Gruppman, who also conducts, and violinist/violist Vesna Gruppman return by popular demand after their 2012 and 2013 Festival participation, performing Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525; Vivaldi's The Four Seasons "Winter," Op. 8, No. 4 and his Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 8 RV 522; Warlock's Capriol Suite for Strings; and two works by Piazzolla: Oblivion and The Four Seasons.
Both programs include a 90-minute pre-concert tour of the Sanfilippo estate.
The 2014 Woodstock Mozart Festival takes place Saturday, July 26, August 2 and August 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 27 and August 3 at 3 p.m. at the Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren Street, Woodstock. Pre-concert introductions take place one hour before each performance. Single tickets go on sale April 7 through the Woodstock Opera House Box Office at 815-338-5300 or at woodstockoperahouse.com.
--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications
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.