Classical Music News of the Week, September 21, 2014

Emerson String Quartet Gives First Carnegie Hall Performance with Cellist Paul Watkins, the Concert Also Featuring Pianist Yefim Bronfman

On Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8:00PM, the Emerson String Quartet gives its first Carnegie Hall performance with cellist Paul Watkins. Joined by internationally acclaimed pianist Yefim Bronfman, the program will be Beethoven's String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, "Serioso," Purcell's Chaconne in G Minor, and Britten's String Quartet No. 2 in C Major, with Mr. Bronfman joining the Quartet for Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat Major.

Paul Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor and devoted chamber musician, joined the ensemble in May 2013 during its 37th season. Mr. Watkins' dedication and enthusiasm has since infused the Quartet with a rich tone and palpable joy in the collaborative process. He explains, "The extraordinary intensity surrounding a Carnegie Hall concert has the power to inspire musicians to give their very best. As the new cellist of the Emerson String Quartet, I will be honored and thrilled to share this stage with my three wonderful colleagues, along with the exceptional Yefim Bronfman."

The Emerson String Quartet has an unparalleled list of achievements over three decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year" and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time. In January 2015, the Quartet will be named Chamber Music America's Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award recipient in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8PM
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium
Emerson String Quartet:
Eugene Drucker, violin
Philip Setzer, violin
Lawrence Dutton, viola
Paul Watkins, cello
with Yefim Bronfman, piano

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Composer Mason Bates "Nudging the Classical Music World into the 21st Century" with Three World Premieres in 14-15
Composer Mason Bates presents world premieres along with performances of his celebrated works with Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Pittsburgh Symphonies in 2014-2015

World premiere recording of the Violin Concerto written for Anne Akiko Meyers included on The American Masters to be released September 30th on eOne.

The recent recipient of the Heinz Medal in Arts and Humanities, Mason Bates is a seminal force in American music. In the coming season, the composer's works will fill the halls of major orchestras, including world premieres of three spellbinding new works in concert and on record. These include the composer's new Cello Concerto, with cellist Joshua Roman and the Seattle Symphony, and his acoustic "Anthology of Fantastic Zoology" with Ricardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – with whom Bates is in the final year of his tenure as a Meade Composer-in-Residence. Bates' new Violin Concerto written for and recorded by Anne Akiko Meyers has its first outing on record with the London Symphony, under the direction of Leonard Slatkin this fall as well. This season also marks the release of Bates's debut full-length symphonic recording, a tour de force of his biggest works; Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and The B-Sides, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. A composer who "knows how to command an orchestra just as well as he does his touchpad" (Washington Post), Mason Bates continuously demonstrates an uncanny ability to transform and update the sound of the traditional orchestra, while meshing influences from the great 19th Century symphonists with his pioneering orchestrations, inventive narratives, and electronic rhythms.

On September 30th, the illustrious violinist Anne Akiko Meyer's 30th recording – The American Masters - will be released internationally by eOne, featuring the world premiere recording of Mason Bates's Violin Concerto which he wrote for Meyers who recorded it with the London Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin.

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

Announcing SESSIONS: The Nights of Madrid, a Different Kind of Concert, October 10, 2014 @ 8:00 PM - ODC Theater, San Francisco
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra today announced that SESSIONS: The Nights of Madrid, the next installment in its new alternative concert series, will take place on October 10 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco's Mission District. SESSIONS: The Nights of Madrid will feature short works by Luigi Boccherini and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, led by music director Nicholas McGegan with renowned cellist Steven Isserlis as guest artist and KDFC Classical's Hoyt Smith as host and narrator. Tickets are $25 and include a free reception following the concert.

SESSIONS made its debut in February 2014 with a sold-out program at the SFJAZZ Center. These short 90-minute concerts are designed to appeal to new audiences who may be less familiar with classical music. With Nicholas McGegan and guest artists sharing anecdotes about composers' biographies, describing the unique historical instruments that Philharmonia musicians play, and giving musical demonstrations from each piece before it is performed, the audience is treated to a witty musical guide that increases their enjoyment. Each concert is followed by a free reception, including wine and conversation with the conductor, guest artists, and orchestra members.

SESSIONS: The Nights of Madrid features several well-known pieces by Luigi Boccherini, an Italian composer employed by the Spanish Habsburg court. His Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid depicts night-time street scenes from the Spanish capital. Boccherini's "Celebrated Minuet" will be instantly recognizable, having been quoted by Nigel Tufnel in This is Spinal Tap, and his Cello Concerto in G major is an elegant expression of the Classical spirit. The program is rounded out by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Cello Concerto in A major, an endlessly inventive and technically challenging tour de force.

Friday, October 10 @ 8:00 PM
ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

--Ben Casement-Stoll, PBO

Orion Ensemble Hosts 22nd Anniversary Benefit November 15
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, celebrates its 22nd anniversary with a benefit performance and party Saturday, November 15, at 11 a.m. at the Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva, Il. Proceeds will help support Orion's performances and outreach efforts to young musicians.

The event features a special concert by Orion with the setting of the Country Club's private fireside dining room as a backdrop for baroque music with harpsichord. After the performance, guests enjoy lunch and have an opportunity to help choose encore performances of works Orion has performed by buying votes for their preferred selections. The musicians mingle and chat with guests in this intimate setting. This event offers Orion fans an extra chance to enjoy the Ensemble's music while supporting its work.

Orion's 2014-15 22nd Anniversary Season features four concert programs--in September/ October, November/December, March and May--at the First Baptist Church of Geneva, as well as at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and two Chicago locations: the Recital Hall at Sherwood, The Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago and the PianoForte Studios.

Performance and ticket information:
The Orion Ensemble's benefit takes place Saturday, November 15, at 11 a.m. at Eagle Brook Country Club, 2288 Fargo Blvd., Geneva, Il. The requested donation is $75. For more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Mirror Visions Ensemble U.S. Tour, New CD, New Commissions, and Competition
Explore the limitless way in which music provides a new dimension to poetry and prose with the Mirror Visions Ensemble's 2014-2015 season performances and projects, led by Artistic Director Tobé Malawista. This season's schedule is an ideal example of the mission of Mirror Visions Ensemble – the commissioning, performing and recording of vocal chamber music. What began as programs built around individual poets and a fascination with multiple settings of the same text – a "mirror vision" – has expanded to include the commissioning of over 80 works from 24 composers.  Each concert is designed in the soirée style made popular during the 19th century, introducing composers, poets and historical figures not only through their published works, but also through correspondence and anecdotes woven throughout each performance.

Concert a la Carte:
Allowing the musicians and audience to indulge in their "foodie" inclinations, this popular program celebrating the delights of dining is centered around the MVE commission of Clean Plates Don't Lie – a cantata by Richard Pearson Thomas based on the menus and philosophy of renowned chef Dan Barber, originator of the farm-to-table movement. Barber's principles have changed the way many Americans approach farming and food, using art as a vehicle for explaining that relationship and furthering the important conversation of food and sustainability. The October tour covers San Francisco, Pasadena, Fullerton and Newport Beach with master classes at USC's Thornton School of Music and California State University at Fullerton. A special performance of this program will also be given at Williams College.

For more information, visit

--Katherine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Cantus Announces 2014-15 Touring Season and 17th recording, A Harvest Home
The Minnesota-based men's vocal ensemble Cantus today announces their 2014-2015 national touring season and the October 7th release of A Harvest Home. With the new season, Cantus launches a brand new touring program - Anthem - and welcomes three new singers to the group. The ensemble also announces their eighth and final season of touring with the popular Christmas program All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.

In addition to their 30 performances in and around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the 2014-15 season will see Cantus in over 30 cities around the United States, including concerts at Lincoln Center and the Met Museum in New York City – their first New York appearances since the 2009 season. Additionally, the group will tour extensively throughout California, the Midwest and East Coast. A complete list of Cantus tour dates is available at their Web site:

--Rebecca Davis, Universal Music

American Opera Projects Receives Major Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
American Opera Projects (AOP) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The $200,000, active through December 2016, will support artistic initiatives by AOP: the Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The First Chance program allows composers and librettists to hear their work, in part or in full, for the first time before an audience, and helps to develop new works for future performances by opera companies. By helping fund these and other upcoming American Opera Projects programs, the Mellon Foundation has ensured that AOP can continue to offer opportunities and insights to rising composers, librettists, and presenting institutions. AOP General Director Charles Jarden states, "we are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this generous grant as it allows AOP to move forward with boldness and innovation. Our goal is to keep contemporary American opera vibrant."

The seventh cycle of the Composers & the Voice (C&V) program will conclude this month with Six Scenes, a concert of opera scenes created in the program by this year's fellows. Performances will be held on Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP. Manhattan School of Music and UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music opera directors will be on hand to select scenes for further development at their respective conservatories.

For more information, visit

--Matthew Gray, AOP

Mozart's Magic Flute in New Production Merging Performers with Animation
One of the world's most successful stage works receives a new magical interpretation in a production by director Barrie Kosky and British theater company 1927, in which performers interact with an animated film. After rave reviews in Los Angeles and Berlin, "The Magic Flute" premieres at Duesseldorf's Opera House on September 13, 2014 for performances through June 5, 2015.

The fairy tale world of lovers Tamino and Pamina and their path to enlightenment after a series of tests and obstacles comes to new life in a production of "The Magic Flute" by director Barrie Kosky and British theatre company 1927. The show premieres at Düsseldorf's Opera House on September 13 after great success in Berlin and Los Angeles. Singers interact on stage with a hand-drawn animated film that follows Mozart's magic along with main characters Tamino, Pamina, and Papageno.

There is hardly another stage work with as successful history as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's final opera, which premiered in Vienna in September 1791. Key to its success then, as now, is the visual and theatrical richness of the opera and its fantastic potential for the stage. Just like librettist Emanuel Schikaneder did with numerous and complex stage effects that amazed the audience at the original premiere, the new interpretation, conceived and produced by Barrie Kosky in collaboration with 1927, mesmerizes with its imaginative details and technical finesse. "You have to revel in the inconsistencies of the plot and characters and in the mix of fantasy, surrealism, magic and deeply moving human emotion," explains Kosky (duration: approx 2.5 hours, one interval).

Düsseldorf's tourism office is offering hotel and city specials for many of the city's music and art events throughout 2014, including "The Magic Flute." The package, called "Düsseldorf à la Card," can be booked right from the tourism office's Web site at

Prices start at €49 per night per person based on double-occupancy for a 2-3-star hotel in the city center and at €95 per person for a 4-star hotel. The package includes breakfast, one DüsseldorfCard (free public transportation within city limits plus 30 free or reduced admissions to city attractions), and a city information package. Please check the website for current information.

For more information about the opera, show times, and tickets, please visit:

--Rainer Perry, Dusseldorf Tourism

Pacifica Quartet's Shostakovich Cycle Released as Bargain Boxed Set on Cedille Records
The critically acclaimed series offers eight hours of music, including works by other major Soviet-era composers.

The Pacifica Quartet's internationally acclaimed four-volume, eight-CD survey of Dmitri Shostakovich's string  quartets on Cedille Records has been released as a bargain-priced boxed set. The Soviet Experience: The Complete String Quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich, plus quartets by Miaskovsky, Prokofiev, Weinberg, and Schnittke is notable for including quartets by some of the composer's most significant Soviet-era contemporaries (Cedille Records Box 1003).

The suggested retail price of the CD boxed set is $33.98, half the cost of all four double-CD volumes purchased separately. The boxed set, comprising eight hours of music, was released September 9, with an eye toward the holiday gift season.

In addition to Shostakovich's 15 string quartets, the series includes Nikolai Miaskovsky's String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 86; Sergei Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92; Mieczyslaw Weinberg's String Quartet No. 6 in E minor, Op. 35; and Alfred Schnittke's String Quartet No. 3.

The series, produced and engineered by multiple Grammy Award-winner Judith Sherman, was originally released in installments between September 2011 and November 2013.

--Nathan J. Silverman, Cedille Records

Czech Philharmonic 2014-15 National Tour
Beginning November 4, 2014, the Czech Philharmonic tours Costa Mesa, San Diego, Berkeley, Annapolis, Purchase, Northridge, Davis, Santa Barbara, Fairfax, and New York. The Philharmonic performs in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall, the National Cathedral, Segerstrom Concert Hall, and Copley Symphony Hall, among others. Guest artists include pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Josef Spacek, and the Prague Philharmonic Choir and soloists.

The focus will be Czech composers: Janacek, Smetana and, in particular, Dvorak, to coincide with the international recording release of the complete concertos and symphonies on Decca. The Philharmonic's touring repertoire alternates between Dvorak 's 'New World' Symphony and his other moving masterwork, Stabat Mater. Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Josef Spacek join the Philharmonic for concerts performing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Suk's Fantasy respectively.

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

No comments:

Post a Comment

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 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.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine 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 simple-minded, 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 Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. 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 LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. 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.

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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa