Classical Music News of the Week, February 8, 2015

Music Institute Presents Duo Piano Winter Mini-Fest

The Music Institute of Chicago's popular Chicago Duo Piano Festival presents its annual Duo Piano Winter Mini-Fest March 6–8 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The festival features two concerts:

On Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m., the Japanese-born piano duo Yuki and Tomoko Mack present a performance featuring the following:
Hiroko Yanai: Sketches of Home Country (Based on Japanese Children's Songs)
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Russian Rhapsody
Georges Bizet/arr. Mack: Carmen Suite
Anton Arensky: Silhouettes Op. 23
Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

The Mack sisters have won several prizes in prestigious international competitions such as the Dranoff International Two-Piano Competition in Florida, the Ellis Two-Piano National Competition in South Carolina, and the International Piano Duo Competition in Tokyo.

On Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., Music Institute piano faculty members perform a mixed concert of music for piano duo, including works by Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, Arensky and Chabrier. Performers include Chicago Duo Piano Festival founders Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, Xiaomin Liang and Jue He, Elaine Felder and Milana Pavchiskaya, Elaine Felder and Maya Brodotskaya, Matthew Hagle and Mio Isoda, and more.

The Mack sisters offer a master class Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. And students participating in the mini-fest give a recital Sunday, March 8 at 1 p.m., both at Nichols Concert Hall.

Pianists are welcome to register for the March 6–8 mini-fest, featuring concerts, master classes, lectures, coachings, and student recitals. Tuition is $95 per student, which includes admission to all concerts and events, participation in student recitals, coachings, and a festival dinner. Registration deadline is February 15, 2015.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

April 2015 Events at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Menopause The Musical
March 31 – April 5, 2015

Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?
March 31 – April 5, 2015

Native Trails
April 2 and 4, 2015

Jo Dee Messina
April 3, 2015

Sunday A'Fair
April 5, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
An Evening of American Music with Walter Cosand and Friends
April 6, 2015

Talk Cinema
April 7 and 21, 2015

Chris Botti
April 9, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
Arizona Composers Concert: What's New?
April 13, 2015

San Francisco Opera: Grand Opera Cinema Series
Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito
April 15, 2015

4 Girls 4
Starring Christine Andreas, Andrea McArdle, Donna McKechnie and Faith Prince
April 17, 2015

The Mutter Bronfman Harrell Trio
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violin; Yefim Bronfman, Piano; Lynn Harrell, Cello
April 18, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
From Creation to Death: Music of Life
ASU Faculty-Student Chamber Players
April 20, 2015

Dailey & Vincent
April 24, 2015

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca: Antigona
April 24–25, 2015

Lisa Loeb
April 25, 2015

ASU Concerts at the Center
Duo Hybrids: Old and New, Wood and Metal
April 27, 2015

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
7380 E. Second St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Patron Services Box Office: 480-499-TKTS (8587)
TDD: 480-874-4694

--Bill Thompson, SCCARTS

Cubanacán: A Revolution in Forms Opera World Premiere
Event will kick off the 2015 Havana Bienal, May 22.
School of Plastic Arts ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte)
Havana, Cuba

With a libretto by celebrated American filmmaker Charles Koppelman and music by leading Cuban composer Roberto Valera, Cubanacán tells the story of Cuba's National Art Schools, built in the 1960s in the suburbs west of Havana. Led by Music Director Zenaida Romeu, the premiere production—part of the 2015 Bienal de la Habana—features a stellar cast of Cuban singers performing on the site of the Schools.

An opera 12 years in the making, Cubanacán: A Revolution of Forms uses myth, allegory and history to tell the story of Cuba's National Art Schools, a set of five institutions dreamed up by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara during a golf match in the early 1960s. Charles Koppelman, a California-based filmmaker known for his independent features and documentaries, wrote a libretto that explores the passion and heartbreak of architect Ricardo Porro (1925-2014), whose spiritual and artistic mission was ultimately tangled up in the complex politics of post-revolutionary Cuba.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Marc-Andre Hamelin, Exclusive New York Solo Recital at 92Y
Saturday, February 21, 8:00 PM

As part of his international tour this season, Marc-Andre Hamelin performs at 92Y for his only solo recital in New York. Hamelin honors the rich tradition of the pianist-composer with a program of works by composers who had great success at the keyboard.

Franz Liszt may be the most iconic pianist-composer of all, and Hamelin is a Liszt specialist, playing his often fiendishly difficult music with astonishing ease. Hamelin also thrives on reviving the unjustly obscure, so he opens with music of the Irish Romantic John Field. And Hamelin himself continues the composer-pianist tradition, presenting his Chaconne (inspired naturally by Bach's Chaconne) to New York for the first time.

Field: Andante inédit
Hamelin: Chaconne (New York premiere)
Debussy: Images, Book II
Liszt: Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
Liszt: Venezia e Napoli

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Stile Antico U.S. Tour Kicks Off February 21, 2015
The critically acclaimed British vocal ensemble Stile Antico embarks on a major U.S. tour this February, performing selections from its new album From The Imperial Court. With stops including Boston Early Music Festival's St. Paul Church (March 1), New York's Church of St. Mary the Virgin (February 28), Washington, DC's Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes (February 25th), the tour program follows the music that captures the triumphs and tragedies of the Imperial courts of the Hapsburgs.

The remarkable Hapsburg dynasty, which at its peak ruled much of Europe and established the first truly global empire, is the inspiration for a fascinating journey through two centuries of music. Stile Antico performs works closely associated with three of the greatest Hapsburg monarchs: the Emperor Maximilian, who greatly expanded the empire, his grandson Charles V of Spain, and Charles's son Philip II, who married Queen Mary of England.

For more information, visit

--Harmonia Mundi USA

ABS Presents Bach's St. Matthew Passion
American Bach Soloists Present Bach's St. Matthew Passion, February 27 - March 2,

Jeffrey Thomas to conduct outstanding assemblage of artists including tenor Derek Chester (Evangelista), baritone William Sharp (Christus), and The Pacific Boychoir.

Noted for its majestic scope and dramatic intensity, St. Matthew Passion is a towering artistic achievement and remains one of Bach's most vivid creations 280 years after its composition. Under the leadership of Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas, "unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter" (San Francisco Classical Voice), ABS has become closely associated with this epic masterpiece. The experience of their 2012 performances of an early version of the work made a profound impact on audiences and critics alike, leading one patron to remark, "I am so grateful I was there." SFCV wrote, "Thanks to Thomas and ABS for such a profoundly beautiful, moving evening."

Friday, February 27, 2015, 7:30 pm
St. Stephen's Church, 3 Bayview Avenue, Belvedere, CA

Saturday, February 28, 2015, 7:30 pm
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA

Sunday, March 1, 2015, 4:00 pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA

Monday, March 2, 2015, 7:00 pm
Davis Community Church, 412 C Street, Davis, CA

Single tickets: $27-$66.
For tickets or information, please visit or call (415) 621-7900.

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

ABS Academy Application Deadline: Monday, February 16
The deadline for applying to the 2015 ABS Academy is coming up—all applications are due Monday, February 16, 2015. The Academy is an outstanding opportunity for study, training, and performance of Baroque music and historically informed performance practice. This year's Academy will be August 3-16, 2015.

Admission to the Academy is through competitive application. Candidates must submit materials including 2 letters of recommendation, audio recordings (audition repertory guidelines here), and pay a $35 application fee. All application materials are submitted online.

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Berkeley Symphony Presents World Premiere by Jake Heggie
Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony continue the 2014-2015 season on Thursday, February 26 at 8 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall with the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Camille Claudel: Into the Fire for Orchestra and Mezzo-Soprano. Originally written as a song cycle for string quartet and mezzo-soprano, a new version of this work was commissioned by Berkeley Symphony for full orchestra. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, acclaimed for her performances in symphony, opera, chamber and recital settings as "the luminous standout" (The New York Times), makes her debut appearance with the orchestra as soloist. The evening opens with Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, with Brahms's Symphony No. 4 completing the program.

Single tickets for the concert are $15-$74. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (510) 841-2800 x1 or visit

--Brenden Guy, Berkeley Symphony

Joyce DiDonato Takes a Stand at the Stonewall Inn
Opera star Joyce DiDonato pays tribute to victims of intolerance and injustice in an NPR Music "Field Recording" video, released at In the video, DiDonato performs Henry Purcell's aria 'When I Am Laid In Earth' at landmark Greenwich Village gay bar The Stonewall Inn, blocks from where Mark Carson was shot and killed in a hate crime in May 2013. The intimate audience includes Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, as well as Edith Windsor, whose landmark civil rights trial forced the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage.

Joyce hopes that the video will not only honor Carson's memory, but will also offer some consolation to all of those affected by bigotry and hatred. As she told NPR Music: "It's not only important for gay people. It's important for all of us because we are only as good as the weakest member of our community. If there's intolerance and injustice being waged against people, we feel that. Because in the end, we're all in this together."

Listen here:

Joyce is accompanied by students from Juilliard's period-instrument ensemble Juilliard415.

--Andrew Ousley, Warner Classics

Deborah Voigt - 'Voigt Lessons' at 92Y, NYC Premiere
Internationally beloved opera star Deborah Voigt shares memories and music from her celebrated career at 92Y, NYC, Thursday, Feb 26, 2015, 8 pm, in an intimate account of her life beyond the velvet curtains in the New York City premiere of her confessional one-woman show, Voigt Lessons. She performs arias, pop songs, standards and spirituals that have special meaning for her, including Strauss's "Zueignung," Mancini's "Moon River," The Carpenters' hit, "A Song for You," and much more.

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

YPC Announces Its Guest Artists for the March 2 Benefit Gala Concert
The Jazz at Lincoln Center box office is now open for one of the most exciting galas in the history of the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

Purchase your tickets early for an event you will not want to miss: a colorful evening of the kind of marvelous music and spectacular production numbers YPC galas are known for.

This year's gala recognizes two distinguished honorees: YPC's Corporate Honoree Thomas Wagner, the co-founder and managing member of Knighthead Capital Management LLC and YPC's Artistic Award recipient is the celebrated pianist, composer, and educator Seymour Bernstein.

Norm Lewis, the iconic superstar of "Phantom of the Opera," "Porgy and Bess," and ABC-TV's "Scandal" will be our host for the evening.

Joining Norm Lewis, the Young People's Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Núñez, and The New York Pops are stars Allison Blackwell, who returns to the cast of "The Lion King" on March 3, and Douglas Hodge, a Tony Award-winner for his role as Albin in "La Cage Aux Folles."

Proceeds from the March 2 gala will support 1,400 young people, nearly 90% of whom receive scholarships or participate free of charge in YPC's after-school and in-school programs.

Tickets for the Gala concert only start at $30 and are available at the box office (60th and Broadway), from CenterCharge 212-721-6500, or at

Tickets for the Gala concert and dinner at the Mandarin Oriental are available by calling the YPC Gala Coordinator at 212-289-7779, Ext. 16 or email

--Katharine Gibson, YPC

The Orion String Quartet at Lincoln Center
the Orion String Quartet (Daniel Phillips, violin; Todd Phillips, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; and Timothy Eddy, cello) will be performing a concert with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in February. Over the past 27 seasons the Orion String Quartet has been consistently praised for the fresh perspective and individuality it brings to performances.

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 7:30 PM
Rose Studio, Lincoln Center, NYC

Haydn: Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5
Haydn: Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 33, No. 2, "The Joke"
Haydn: Quartet in C major, Op. 50, No. 2
Haydn: Quartet in F major, Op. 77, No. 2

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Upcoming at the Green Music Music Center, Sonoma State University
Waldorf at Weill
Wednesday, Feb 11, 6:30pm, Weill Hall

San Francisco Symphony: Peter Serkin Plays Mozart
Thursday, Feb 12, 8pm, Weill Hall

The Nile Project
MasterCard Performance Series
Friday, Feb 13, 7:30pm, Weill Hall

Sundays at Schroeder
Sunday, Feb 15, 3pm, Schroeder Hall

Jordi Savall
MasterCard Performance Series
Saturday, Feb 21, 7:30pm, Weill Hall

Igudesman and Joo
MasterCard Performance Series
Sunday, Feb 22, 7pm, Weill Hall

Stewart Copeland and Jon Kimura Parker
MasterCard Performance Series
Sunday, Mar 8, 7pm, Weill Hall

For complete information, visit

--Green Music Center, Sonoma State

Hermès Quartet Tour
After making its label debut on La Dolce Volta with the award-winning December release Schumann Quartets Op. 41, the Paris-based young Hermès Quartet tours the U.S. this month and in March, with concerts in New York, NY Washington DC, and Williamsburg, VA, and other cities. The highly acclaimed quartet consists of violinists Omer Bouchez and Elise Liu, cellist Anthony Kondo, and violist Yung-Hsin Chang, who together won first prize at the 2009 International Chamber Music Lyon and at the 2011 Geneva International Music Competition, as well as the Coup de Coeur Breguet in the Geneva Competition, and the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York in 2012.

Feb 8: Gainesville, FL - University of Florida
Feb 14: New York, NY - Washington Irving High School
Feb 15: Port Washington, NY - Music Hall
Feb 21: Columbus, MD -  Smith Theatre
Feb 23: Norfolk, VA - St. Patrick Catholic School
Feb 24: Williamsburg, VA - Williamsburg Regional Arts Center
Feb 26: Washington, DC - French Embassy
Mar 1: Buffalo, NY - Kleinhans Music Hall
Mar 6: New York, NY - Caspary Auditorium
Mar 8: New York, NY - Tishman Auditorium

For more information, visit

--Sarah Folger, Harmonia Mundi USA

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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 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa