Classical Music News of the Week, April 19, 2014

The Moscow Virtuosi Celebrate Their 35th Anniversary at Strathmore Hall

Maestro Vladimir Spivakov leads the highly acclaimed ensemble in a program of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mozart, and Piazzolla on May 10 at 7pm.

Hailed by The Washington Post as "a dramatically unified ensemble [with] a sound that would put many full orchestras to shame," the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra returns to the Washington area to celebrate their 35th anniversary at Strathmore Hall. Led by Maestro Vladimir Spivakov, one of the world's preeminent violinists and conductors, the Moscow Virtuosi have set the gold standard for chamber orchestras since 1979. For tickets, call 301-581-5100 or click here:

On May 10, Maestro Spivakov will lead the Moscow Virtuosi in an exuberant program of favorites from beloved Russian composers and more. The program will open with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's charming Divertimento No.3 in F Major (K.138), followed by Tchaikovsky's lush Serenade for Strings (Op. 48) a definitive composition of the late-Romantic era. The first half of the program closes with two works by Dmitri Shostakovich, a giant of Russian modernism: the Prelude and Scherzo (Op. 11), and the Elegy and Polka (Op. 36). After intermission, the program concludes with Astor Piazzolla's grand suite La Historia del Tango, arranged for violin and orchestra by Alexey Strelnikov. Each of the suite's four movements evokes a specific moment in the history of this passionate Argentinean dance.

Over the years, the Moscow Virtuosi have become world-renowned for their "precision, style and panache" (Chicago Classical Review). Not only do the orchestra members play exceptionally well together, they are each incredible virtuosos in their own right, as one would expect from the ensemble's name. Listeners have come to expect nothing less than the best from the Moscow Virtuosi, and Strathmore patrons should expect the same as this important ensemble celebrates 35 years of excellence.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Berkeley Symphony Announces 2014-2015 Season
The season will be highlighted by world premiers from Oscar Bettison and Jake Heggie in addition to a Bay Area premiere from Thomas Ades

Programs also feature orchestral masterpieces by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Elgar, and Ravel; choral masterworks by Mozart and Adams; and internationally acclaimed artists mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Jennifer Koh.

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced programming for the 2014-2015 season including a world premiere by Oscar Bettison in a program that also features Jennifer Koh performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto; a world premiere by Jake Heggie featuring Grammy-Award winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; the Bay Area premiere of Thomas Adès's Asyla; and a program of choral works that combines Mozart's beloved Requiem Mass with a first-time Berkeley Symphony performance of John Adams' Choruses from the Death of Klinghoffer.

Berkeley Symphony has established itself as a presenter of major contemporary orchestral works with a steadfast commitment to programming cultural treasures from the standard European repertoire. A recipient of the ASCAP award for adventurous programming in nine of the past 11 seasons, Berkeley Symphony will demonstrate its innovative exploration of the past and present with a 2014-2015 season that combines contemporary works alongside classics including the Sibelius Violin Concerto, featuring Jennifer Koh as soloist, Elgar's Enigma Variations, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Brahms's Symphony No. 4 in E minor, and the Mozart Requiem.

"As we embark on another fresh and exciting season, I am constantly reminded of the rich connection that the orchestra experiences with Berkeley audiences," says Music Director Joana Carneiro. "Exploring these musical pathways with a shared love and appreciation of diversity and intrigue pushes us to new heights. I am delighted to present a number of new works by some of the most established composers of our time, including two world premieres and a Bay Area premiere. We are also fortunate to be collaborating with a variety of solo artists and ensembles, expanding our family even further."

Ticket information:
2014-2015 season subscriptions to the Zellerbach Hall Concert Series (four concerts) range in price from $39 to $266. Subscribers enjoy a 10% discount on additional single ticket purchases throughout the season. Single ticket prices range from $15 to $74. Orders for 2014-2015 season subscriptions can be placed online at starting May 1, 2014; by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1; by fax to (510) 841-5422; or mailed to 1942 University Avenue, Suite 207, Berkeley, CA 94704. Single tickets go on sale July 1, 2014. Groups of 6 or more receive a  20% discount off the single ticket price. Berkeley Symphony offers a $7 Student Rush ticket one hour prior to each performance for those with a valid student ID.

Tickets to the Berkeley Symphony & Friends chamber music concerts are $25 and can be purchased in advance at or by phoning the Box Office at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

Tickets to the Under Construction New Music readings are $10.

All Family Concerts are offered free of charge. (Suggested donation: $10 adults/$5 students)

For more information or to request a brochure, call Berkeley Symphony at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1, email or visit

--Karen Ames Communications

Festival Mozaic Announces Artists, Repertoire and Venues for 44th Season
Renowned classical musicians provide sophisticated musical experiences in scenic, small-town atmosphere.

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, FESTIVAL MOZAIC has transformed the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture. This July, Music Director and violinist Scott Yoo will lead a group of more than 50 artists gathered from top orchestras and chamber ensembles from around the world in performances in scenic places all over San Luis Obispo County.

Conveniently located on the coast just off iconic Highway 1 – just three hours from the Bay Area and just three hours from downtown Los Angeles – this region is home to the town of San Luis Obispo, (named "Happiest City in North America" by National Geographic and Oprah Winfrey) and Paso Robles (named "2013 Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine).

San Luis Obispo County (or SLO, as the locals call it) has a pleasing mix of farm-to-table bistros, art galleries, boutique shopping, hiking trails and seaside activities, and of course, wine tasting. It is into this comfortable, captivating ambiance that the musicians of FESTIVAL MOZAIC will bring their international-caliber artistry, celebrating the works of composers both familiar and out-of-the-ordinary. With 20 events in 11 different venues, the Festival offers something for every kind of music lover and provides an authentic SLO experience offering the best in culinary, coastal and cultural life.

The Festival presents four different types of events:
Orchestra –conducted by music director Scott Yoo and featuring soloists such as Orion Weiss, piano and Emily Daggett Smith, violin and others
Chamber Music –featuring performers like Kristina Reiko Cooper, cello, Steven Copes, violin, of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Eriikka Nylund, viola, of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Robert Walters of the Cleveland Orchestra and others)
Fringe series—featuring classically-trained musicians playing in innovative crossover ensembles (like the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet and 3 Leg Torso).
Notable Encounters – our short-format explorations of individual pieces of music which are equal parts interactive performance and education.

The music of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms will be played alongside Bach, Corelli, and Haydn and many more. Listeners can also enjoy Shostakovich, Bartók and a host of other musical masters in charismatic venues such as Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Chapel Hill in wine country, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and the state-of-the-art Christopher Cohan Center for the Performing Arts.

The festival has a strong tradition of presenting emerging artists early in their careers alongside well-respected professionals. This summer's festival will feature players from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony and a host of other top orchestras across the country. Over its four decades, the festival has come to be known for presenting emerging artists early in their careers, including Richard Goode, Jeffrey Kahane, Hilary Hahn, Sir Neville Marriner, the Kronos Quartet, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and the first American premiere performances of Maxim and Dmitri Shostakovich with Mstislav Rostropovich, immediately following their defection from the Soviet Union in 1981.

Subscription Tickets are on sale now. Individual tickets are on sale May 1. Tickets may be ordered online at or by calling (805) 781-3009 / (877) 881-8899.

--Bettina L. Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Composer Howard Shore Joins Forces with the National Concert Hall and RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin Ireland to Present His Music
On Saturday 26 April 2014 the National Concert Hall and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra welcome the multi Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore to Dublin for a concert of his own music. The RTÉ Concert Orchestra will be conducted by Ludwig Wicki and joined by cellist Emma-Jane Murphy, and chorus to include DIT Choral Society.

Famous for his scores of The Lord of the Rings, The Silence of the Lambs, The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Hugo, and more recently The Hobbit, Howard Shore is among today's most respected, honoured and active composers.

This concert, which will be introduced by the composer himself, offers a rare opportunity to hear live performances of Howard Shore's Fanfare for Organ and Brass, selections from Seven Pieces for Chamber Orchestra, Mythic Gardens Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (all of which are Irish premières), and The Prophecy and The Return of the King from The Lord of the Rings Symphony for Orchestra and Chorus.

Selections from the program will subsequently be recorded at RTE studios for planned CD release later this year by Howe Records. "We are very pleased to work in partnership with the National Concert Hall and RTÉ Concert Orchestra and look forward to the opportunity of sharing the result more broadly in recorded form," said Howe Records GM, Joe Augustine.

--Harmonia Mundi USA

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Presents Psalms of David
Timeless songs of praise, faith and love are brought to life through the music of Schütz, Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Rossi on May 7, 2014 at 7pm at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, NYC.

Bringing its 2013-2014 season to a moving conclusion, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space presents Psalms of David, a program that explores different composers' interpretations of these songs of love, repentance and praise. The lineage of Western sacred music begins with the Psalms, and these timeless songs reach full expressive power in the hands of early Baroque masters Schütz, Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Rossi. Multiple choirs and instrumental ensembles capture the glory of these works in the beautiful Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on New York's Upper East Side on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-288-2520 or by clicking here for details:

Included on the program are works by Giovanni Gabrieli, including "In Ecclesiis," the Venetian composer's magnum opus; Salamone Rossi, another Italian composer of Jewish heritage who was one of the few Baroque composers to set Biblical texts in their original Hebrew; five pieces from Heinrich Schütz's Psalmens Davids (German settings of the Psalms); and Claudio Monteverdi's Cantate Domino. These works will be performed by multiple instrumental and vocal groups scattered throughout the church, so as to envelop the audience in sound. Orchestrations of original period instruments by Artistic Director K. Scott Warren complete the experience of being transported back 400 years to a Basilica in Venice or a royal chapel in Dresden.

--Julia Casey, BuckleSweet Media

John Luther Adams Wins Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean, Commissioned by Seattle Symphony; To Be Performed at Carnegie Hall as Part of Spring for Music 2014
John Luther Adams has won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his atmospheric and revolutionary work, Become Ocean. On May 6th, the Seattle Symphony will give its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall as part of Spring for Music.

Regarding this Seattle Symphony commission, which received its world premiere in Seattle on June 20, 2013, Musical Director Ludovic Morlot commented: "What really attracts me to a composer is the individuality in the voice – and John Luther Adams' music is very much inspired by the natural landscapes that are all around us. Become Ocean is written for three different orchestras, each of which has their own journey and rhythm. Three times in the piece they meet in that crucial moment, at the peak of their dynamics together. It's ultimately about you becoming an element of nature yourself, and disappearing in the whole landscape of things."

Executive Director of the Seattle Symphony, Simon Woods, remarked: "We're overjoyed for John Luther Adams. As soon as we premiered Become Ocean, we had the distinct impression that it was special. It's a work that literally changes the way we write for orchestra. Perhaps it's not too much to say that it's one of the early masterpieces of the 21st century."

Alaskan-based composer John Luther Adams has made nature the subject of his compositions for nearly four decades. Become Ocean was inspired by the oceans of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest and immerses the audience in an organic and constantly evolving sound world that reflects the natural environment with an orchestral technique that is deeply original and unique to Adams. Adams explains: "My music has led me beyond landscape painting with tones into the larger territory of 'sonic geography' – a region that lies somewhere between place and culture, between human imagination and the world around us. My music is going inexorably from being about place to becoming place." The score includes a message from the composer, which reads, "Life on this earth emerged from the sea. As the polar ice melts and sea level rises, we humans face the prospect that once again we may quite literally become ocean." Regarding the world premiere of Adams' work, The New Yorker wrote, "It may be the loveliest apocalypse in musical history."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 7:30pm
Carnegie Hall
Spring for Music
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Seattle Symphony

John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
Edgard Varese: Déserts
Claude Debussy: La Mer ("The Sea")

For more information, click

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

AOP To Honor Wicked Composer Stephen Schwartz at 25th Anniversary Gala at the Players Club
Opera and Broadway stars scheduled to perform include Lauren Flanigan, Betsy Wolfe, and Anthony Roth Costanzo.

On Monday, May 12, 2014, AOP (American Opera Projects) hosts its 25th Anniversary Gala honoring Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist of Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell as well as the AOP-developed opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon that premiered at Opera Santa Barbara and ran at New York City Opera for ten performances in their 2010-11 Season. The evening, titled "Opera Sings Broadway Sings Opera," brings together stars of Opera and Broadway at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South, NYC), a historic theatre club in Manhattan. Doors open at 7:30pm with performances scheduled to begin at 8:00pm. Tickets begin at $250 and are available at AOP's Web site

--Matthew Gray, AOP

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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