Classical Music News of the Week, March 9, 2014

Attention Shoppers

Due to an overwhelming number of requests (don’t ask), I have added a linked list (left-hand column a little ways down) of recommended retail music sites that handle most of the products reviewed at Classical Candor. In addition, starting a few weeks ago I began including Amazon links at the end of each review for readers interested in purchasing specific products. I recommend Amazon because they usually have a variety of sellers offering good prices on both new and used discs.

Baroque Cellist Gretchen Claassen Winner of American Bach Soloists 2nd Annual Jeffrey Thomas Award
American Bach Soloists (ABS) are pleased to announce that the winner of the second annual Jeffrey Thomas Award is Gretchen Claassen. A San Francisco Bay Area based violoncellist, Ms Claassen has steadily developed as an artist and emerged as one of the leading newcomers within Northern California’s historically informed performance community.

Gretchen Claassen is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she was an accomplished performer in the Conservatory Baroque Ensemble. She was a two-time winner of the Conservatory’s Baroque Concerto Competition and was also awarded the Artist Certificate in Chamber Music. While still a graduate student, Ms Claassen began her affiliation with ABS through participation in the organization’s summer program in historical performance—the ABS Academy—three times between 2011 and 2013 and by joining the ensemble for performances of works by Bach in 2012 & Handel’s Messiah in 2013.

She began her musical training in Arizona and then at the Juilliard School of Music where she studied ‘cello performance with Bonnie Hampton. She studied chamber music with members of the Juilliard String Quartet, Cleveland Quartet, Calder Quartet, and the Chiara Quartet and has participated in several distinguished music festivals including the Kneisal Hall Chamber Music Festival and American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy. Her avid interest in historically informed performance began while pursuing graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where her teachers included Jennifer Culp and Elisabeth Reed. In addition to ABS, she has performed with several of the Bay Area’s finest musical organizations and is a founding member of the Cello Street Quartet and period ensembles MUSA and the Alchemy Trio.

ABS established the Jeffrey Thomas Award in 2013 to honor and encourage emerging early music professionals of remarkable merit. The award is the newest initiative within the group’s robust and lengthy history of educational efforts, today headed by the ABS Academy. One of the leading programs of its kind, the Academy brings eminent faculty and participants together for two weeks of immersive, multi-disciplinary training each July, running concurrently with the ABS Festival, known as San Francisco’s Summer Bach Festival.

The Jeffrey Thomas Award is given annually at the discretion of ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas to a young professional showing exceptional promise in the field of early music performance. In tandem with a cash prize, recipients of this esteemed award are invited to perform as a soloist with American Bach Soloists. Ms Claassen is the winner of the second award, following the inaugural recipient, tenor Guy Cutting.

For more information about American Bach Soloists, click americanbach.org.

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Music Institute Celebrates Movie Music April 20
“Notes from Hollywood” Features Conductor Leonard Slatkin and Dempster St. Pro Musica

The Music Institute of Chicago partners with Dempster St. Pro Musica for “Notes from Hollywood,” paying tribute to Hollywood movie music of the 1940s and ’50s Sunday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

Leonard Slatkin serves as narrator, conductor, and pianist for this event, which also honors the memory of his parents, violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller, leading film and recording musicians of the era and founders of the Hollywood String Quartet. Slatkin leads a chamber ensemble comprising members of Dempster St. Pro Musica (most also members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, who perform work by Miklos Rozsa, Erich Korngold, Nino Rota, Enrico Morricone, Franz Waxman, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. To acknowledge the close friendship between the Slatkins and Frank Sinatra, vocalist Tom Heitman performs selections from Sinatra’s groundbreaking album Close to You, accompanied by string players using the original Hollywood Quartet orchestrations.

Proceeds from the concert benefit the Solti Foundation U.S., which mentors and provides financial assistance to young American conductors.

“Notes from Hollywood,” co-presented by the Music Institute of Chicago and Dempster St. Pro Musica, takes place Sunday, April 20 at 7 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/477602 or 847.905.1500 ext. 108.

For more information, visit musicinst.org.

In addition, Music Institute of Chicago presents a free Faculty Lunchtime Concert, with Fred Simon, jazz piano on Wednesday, March 19, 12:15–1 p.m., Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL.

The Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served. The March program above features Music Institute jazz piano instructor Fred Simon, who will perform works of his own and other songwriters.

For more information, visit musicinst.org or call 847.905.1500.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Young People’s Chorus of New York City Ready for Two More Exciting Concerts in March and April
“Transmusica - East Meets West”
Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Church of St. Joseph
365 Sixth Avenue (corner of Washington Place)

In a new Transmusica concert, a YPC series designed to build bridges to other world cultures, two choirs from Japan - the Peace and Hope Choir of Hiroshima and the Chamber Choir of the Elisabeth University of Music - join YPC, Francisco Núñez, and The Ten, an all-men's ensemble from the University Glee Club of New York City, for an inspiring and entertaining program at the Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village (365 Sixth Avenue) on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. to benefit victims of last November's Philippine typhoon disaster. 

This concert reunites YPC and the Hiroshima Chorus.  They have sung together on YPC's travels to Japan in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2013.  This is the first time they will sing together in the U.S.

Suggested donation:  $10 at the door.

“Transient Glory Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli”
Friday, April 25, 8 p.m.
Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y (at Lexington Avenue)

Missy Mazzoli and Victoire Transient Glory, YPC's groundbreaking series of choral music for young people commissioned from today's most important composers, returns with a “Composer Spotlight on Missy Mazzoli,” whose genre-spanning works include chamber rock, indie classical, minimalist, post-rock and pseudo-classical.

The concert features an entire evening of music by Ms. Mazzoli composed and arranged specifically for YPC and Victoire, her all-star, all-female ensemble.  The program includes the world premieres of a YPC commission - New New York Songs - and a "Best of" selection of  Missy's compositions newly arranged by her to be performed by YPC and Victoire for this unique spotlight.  Among them are excerpts from Cathedral City and her acclaimed opera Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt. Soprano Mellissa Hughes will be the soloist in A Thousand Tongues and two movements from a new work - Vespers for a New Dark Age.

All tickets are $15 and are available now at the 92nd Street Y box office or by calling 212-415-5500.

--Katharine Gibson, Young People’s Chorus of NYC

92nd Street Y Announces 2014-2015 Season
Director of 92nd Street Y Tisch Center for the Arts, Hanna Arie-Gaifman, announced the 2014/15 concert season bringing many of the world’s preeminent classical music artists to its historic concert hall at 92Y on Lexington Avenue and downstairs at SubCulture on Bleecker Street. This season’s explorations include concerts focused on the works of Bach, Brahms and Schubert in both solo recitals and chamber ensemble performances. In many instances, these concerts will be exclusive New York recital appearances.

Ms. Arie-Gaifman comments, “This season, more than ever before, is the result of our ongoing creative dialogue with the artists. We have mini-residencies, multiple concerts in which artists have the opportunity to explore the works of a single composer, or perhaps to seek out the links between old and new music. We are committed to providing a space where artists can create adventurous programs that speak to audiences and provide distinctive musical experiences for all.”

The 2014/15 season opens September 18 at 7:00 p.m at 92Y with violinist Christian Tetzlaff performing Bach’s six Sonatas and Partitas as part of the Distinguished Artists series.  Hailed for his immensely virtuosic yet deeply personal performances, this will be Mr. Tetzlaff’s only New York recital this season.

Season highlights will include a three-concert exploration of Brahms chamber music by the
Jerusalem Quartet, pianist Inon Barnatan & guests; performances by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Jennifer Koh, violin & Alisa Weilerstein, cello with Musicians from the New York Philharmonic; World premiere by John Harbison co-commissioned by 92Y performed by Jennifer Koh as part of “Bach and Beyond”; “The Schubert Effect,” two-concert series with Shai Wosner, piano & Parker Quartet; Masters of the Keyboard series recitals by pianists Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Marc-André Hamelin, and Nikolai Lugansky; András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists Adam Golka, Kuok-Wai Lio, and Roman Rabinovich; Art of the Guitar series to feature Sérgio and Odair Assad, The Romeros, Jason Vieaux with Yolanda Kondonassis, and a showcase of American guitarist/composers; Leon Fleisher: Living Through Music – Conversations between Leon & Julian Fleisher on life, career and music.

Subscription ticket packages for 92Y’s 2014/15 season are now on sale. For more information, please visit www.92Y.org/Concerts or call the 92Y Box Office at 212-415-5500.

Concerts in Kaufmann Concert Hall, Weill Art Gallery, and Buttenwieser Hall take place at 1395 Lexington Avenue @ 92nd Street, NYC. SubCulture concerts take place at 45 Bleecker Street, NYC.

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

West Edge Opera Announces Casting for Second "Opera Medium Rare (But Well Done)" Concert: Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro
Edge Opera is pleased to announce casting for Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro, the second in the company’s "Opera Medium Rare (but well done)", series of lesser-known operas by well-known composers, performed in concert format. The performance of Caterina Cornaro is on Sunday, March 30 at 3 pm at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA.

The title role of Caterina will be sung by soprano Heidi Moss, and her ill-fated lover/fiancé Gerardo by Michael Desnoyers. Lusignano, King of Cyprus, is baritone Branislav Radakovic. Bass John Minagro portrays the story's villain, Venetian chief spy Mocenigo. Other roles will be sung by Elayne Juten, Alan Briones, and Jose Hernandez. Accompaniment is by the small ensemble of violinist Sara Usher, cellist Nancy Bien Souza and clarinetist Karen Wells. Jonathan Khuner conducts from the piano. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. This series of concert performances is in addition to West Edge Opera’s mainstage season, which will be announced in the near future.

Considered one of his most deeply felt, atmospheric and dramatically truthful scores, Caterina Cornaro was Donizetti’s final opera produced in his lifetime. Historically overshadowed by his spectacularly successful Don Pasquale and La Fille du Regiment, it nonetheless rivals them in melodies of lyric beauty and scenes of effective drama. About to be married to her sweetheart Gerardo, Caterina (an actual 15th century Venetian noblewoman) is torn away to become Queen of Cyprus. Although she is forced into a political marriage with a king she does not love, he turns out to be noble and good, so that she feels that she cannot abandon him. His power-hungry Venetian enemies attempt to assassinate him by poison, and eventually kill him on the battlefield, leaving Caterina to rule on her own.

The third and final performance in this series is Verdi’s Aroldo on May 4. Casting for Aroldo will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are now on sale, at $15 for general admission or $40 for priority reserved section. Tickets are available online at www.westedgeopera.org or by telephone at (510) 841-1903. For more information, go to West Edge Opera’s Web site at www.westedgeopera.org.

--Marian Kohlstedt, West Edge Opera

A Classical Read for Classical Listeners
Reader, editor, publisher, and screenwriter Racine Hiet has come up with the debut crime novel Stanley Park, which seems to have everything the mystery and romance fan could want: Forced into a bloody crime by Ace, an isolated girl, April, buries her past until passionate love drives her to uncover dark secrets and free his hold on her. A recent review states, “Such an amazing, thought-provoking book. What a wonderful read this book turned out to be! The words that constantly come up when I think about the story are sensitive and real. The story is set in Vancouver, (1930s-60s). This story shakes you, you don’t know who or what to vouch for, you just want happiness for everyone and somehow in that wanting you find yourself becoming more humane and less judgmental. You are sucked into the plot immediately, so be prepared to go into deep and dark places, as you should be with any brilliant mystery. But also know that you’ll emerge out of that tunnel feeling richer in soul and meaning."


--JJP

You Can Play Project Is Proud to Announce Cameron Carpenter as Their First Musical Ambassador
Partnership will be formally announced March 9, 2014 as part of Cameron’s Lincoln Center festival premiering the International Touring Organ.

Organist Cameron Carpenter will become the Musical Ambassador for the You Can Play Project, which works to ensure equality, respect, and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cameron grew up in a hockey family in Meadville, PA, where his father was a competitive player and youth coach. Carpenter explains his connection to, and enthusiasm for, You Can Play’s mission: “My childhood was vastly enriched by a unique fusion of music and sports, because I played the organ for my father’s hockey games. Once I entered my teenage years, my life had already been dedicated to music, but I was still connected to the hockey family through the keyboards. By playing, I could play. The organ has the strongest voice, and some of the deepest cultural associations, of any musical instrument. It’s a sound that commands us to stand up – not just for our national anthem, but also for each other.”

You Can Play, a registered 501 non-profit organization, works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.

Cameron Carpenter Festival
Sunday, March 9, 2014
2pm and 7pm
Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

One World Symphony Presents “Spring Break”
Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Conductor
Monica Martin, Sergey Prokofyev, violinists
One World Symphony vocal artist

Antonio Vivaldi:"Spring" and "Summer," The Four Seasons
Arias by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi
Dmitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108 (world premiere arrangement of String Quartet No. 7 by Sung Jin Hong)
Andrew Struck-Marcell: Infinity for vocalist and chamber orchestra (2014 World Premiere )

One Performance Only:
Monday, March 17, 2014
8:00 p.m.
Holy Apostles Church
296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street
Manhattan

$30 Students/Seniors with ID
$40 General
Tickets previously purchased for the "Lamento" program will be honored for this program.


--Adrienne Metzinger, One World Symphony

AOP First Chance Previews New Opera Companionship at Manhattan School of Music
Cornellia Street Cafe, NYC
Excerpts by composer Rachel Peters Features Student cast, and artist discussion

On March 16 at 2:30PM, American Opera Projects (AOP) First Chance, public presentations of operas-in-progress, returns to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) for their annual Opera Index series "New American Opera Previews, From Page to Stage" with scenes from Companionship, a new opera by composer Rachel Peters. Tickets for the MSM performance at Greenfield Hall (120 Claremont Ave., NYC 10027) are $20 ($15 advance, $10 Student/senior) and available by calling 212-706-9550. On March 24 at 8:30PM, an encore concert presentation will be held at Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street, New York, NYC 10014) as part of the "Otherwise Unsung" series featuring creators of new music-theatre joining forces to deliver contemporary arias and scenes. Tickets for the Cornelia Street Café performance are $10.00 cover plus $10.00 minimum and available by calling 212-989-9319.

Adapted from the short story by Arthur Phillips, Companionship is a dark comedy about a troubled baker on an "all-consuming" quest to create the perfect baguette when the 207,345th loaf comes to life. Directed by Lemuel Wade (AOP's recent Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom), the excerpts will feature performances by MSM student singers Noragh Devlin, Lesley Dolman, Stephanie Jabre, Matilyn Obregón, and Xiaoming Tian, with Scott Rednour on piano. A talkback with the artists, hosted by former WQXR host Midge Woolsey, will follow the March 16 performance.

--Matt Gray, American Opera Projects

National Philharmonic Singers Present Free Spring Concert
The National Philharmonic Singers, under the direction of conductors Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, will present a free spring concert on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, 107 South Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland.

The National Philharmonic Singers concert will showcase pieces from the Renaissance until now.

Works will include the madrigal comedy Festino, written by Italian monk Adriano Banchieri, featuring choral depictions of dances and wine tasting, and his Counterpoint of the Animals. While contemporary Norwegian Ola Gjeilo expands in a mystic style with Unicornis Captivator, the music of love comes forth in Brahms’ eloquent vocal quartets. A regional premiere of Stars written by Latvian composer Erik Esenvalds is accompanied by the sheen of tuned water glasses. Comedy fare rounds out the program with Eric Whitacre’s zany Animal Crackers and the gossipy Neighbors’ Chorus by Offenbach.

The National Philharmonic Singers, led by Stan Engebretson and Victoria Gau, is a chamber choir and one of several performing ensembles of the National Philharmonic, which is in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore. As such, it promotes works suited for smaller ensembles, whether with accompaniment or a cappella.  Its repertoire ranges from 15th to 21st centuries, and it often premieres new compositions by local composers.  In summer of 2013, the group was invited to participate in the international choral competition in Llangollen, Wales. This is the ninth year of performances at Christ Church with free-will offering benefiting the Community Ministries of Rockville.

The March 29 spring concert at the Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville is free but donations in support of the Community Ministries of Rockville will be gratefully accepted. Christ Episcopal Church is located at 107 South Washington Street in Rockville, MD. Directions to the church may be found at christchurchrockville.org/directions.htm#Platinum or by calling the church at 301-762-2191, ext. 3. For more information, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org for call 301-493-9283, ext. 116.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

ABS 25th Season Celebration on March 21st
We hope you will join American Bach Soloists as we celebrate 25 years on Friday, March 21, 2014, at San Francisco’s historic Haas-Lilienthal House, located at 2007 Franklin Street (between Washington & Jackson Streets), San Francisco, CA. Beginning at 5 p.m., the evening will be a joyous celebration filled with music, champagne, delicious food, and plenty of camaraderie with Jeffrey Thomas, the Musicians, Board, and Staff of ABS. We hope you will join in the fun and help us make it a night to remember.

A quarter century is a major landmark in the lifespan of any performing arts organization. Only the very best and most graciously supported celebrate such a milestone of cultural public service. Under the artistic guidance and visionary leadership of Jeffrey Thomas, ABS celebrates their twenty-fifth year at a particularly felicitous time when the company’s activities are healthy and robust, their artists are at the top of the heap, and new generations of early music virtuosi are emerging year after year from the ABS Academy. ABS has a glorious history and plenty more to come!

The 25th Season Celebration festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. with champagne toasts followed by a concert performed by members of American Bach Soloists and a live auction featuring activities and events in San Francisco, Napa, Santa Fe, and New York. Following the concert, the celebration will continue with heavy hors d’oeuvre, plenty of wine, and good cheer in a most festive evening. Complimentary valet parking will be provided.

The special concert will feature baritone Mischa Bouvier and the musicians of ABS. Mr. Bouvier is well known to ABS audiences for his performances of Handel’s Messiah at Grace Cathedral and the Mondavi Center last December and also in Handel’s cantata Apollo & Dafne and arias by J.S. Bach last May. A graduate of the ABS Academy in 2010, Mr. Bouvier is an accomplished and charismatic performer who is equally at home in recital, concert, or on the opera stage. He will sing a program of works by Bach and Telemann, including Bach’s unusual secular Italian cantata, Amore traditore, BWV 203.

For more information about the menu or auction items, please visit our event page for the 25th Season Celebration. Reservations may be made through our website or by calling the ABS office at (415) 621-7900. The cost is $250 per person. Proceeds from this event will support the ongoing work of American Bach Soloists. $150 of every ticket purchased goes directly to underwrite the soloists, orchestra, and chorus of ABS.

For more information, click http://americanbach.org/blog/?p=464

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa