Classical Music News of the Week, March 22, 2015

American Bach Soloists Announce 2015 Festival & Academy

Tickets for the 6th annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy—San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival—are now on sale. Titled "Versailles & The Parisian Baroque," the 2015 Festival will feature concerts, lectures, and colloquia that celebrate Bach's French contemporaries and the splendid music of the extravagant court at Versailles. Along with a survey of French masterworks by Couperin, Rameau, and others performed by ABS, Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will lead the ABS Festival Orchestra in the United States premiere of an opera by Marais and two performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor. All events will be held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, August 7-16.

The Festival opens with a two-part program celebrating Versailles & The Parisian Baroque, August 7-8. For Part I, Director Jeffrey Thomas leads ABS--"the best American specialists in early music"--in a trio of stunning orchestral works by three French Masters. The high-minded musical ideals and splendor of the era are fully evident in Jean-Philippe Rameau's Ouverture & Suite of dances from his opera Naïs.

From the grand to the intimate, ABS continues its exploration of the Parisian Baroque on August 8 with a look into the era's drawing rooms, private halls, and the Royal residence at Versailles, for a sampling of exquisite works by Marin Marais, François Couperin, André Campra, and Quirinus van Blankenburg, a Dutchman who felt it necessary to compose an answer to Campra's Les Femmes.

Bach's Mass in B Minor is the pinnacle of the Baroque repertory and ABS's annual Festival performances--"one of the best" according to the Wall Street Journal--draw Bach pilgrims to San Francisco from around the world. Jeffrey Thomas and the ABS Festival Orchestra, with vocal and instrumental soloists from the ABS Academy, perform the masterwork on each Sunday during the Festival, August 9 & 16.

On Friday, August 14, Marin Marais's 1709 opera Sémélé will be presented in its first complete performance outside of Europe. Utilizing a cast of musicians from the ABS Academy and Festival Orchestra, Jeffrey Thomas leads a concert version of this gem from the golden era of musical Paris.

Ticket information:
Festival Passes (8 concerts) $115–$296
Single tickets range from $10–$75
For more information, visit or call 415-621-790

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

92Y Art of the Guitar - American Guitarist Composers
"The Art of the Guitar" series continues this season at 92Y on March 28 at 8:00 PM with four established American composer-guitarists who bring their unique voices and share their dual roles. With Emmy and Grammy Awards, best-selling CDs, and top prizes in international guitar competitions, each of these artists truly represent what it means to be the total musician.

Frederic Hand and David Leisner, guitar
Tara Helen O'Connor, flute
Gyan Riley, guitar
Andrew York, guitar

Hand: For Julian, Sephardic Songs, Prayer, Samba
Leisner: Labyrinths for solo guitar, Acrobats for flute and guitar
Riley: Sombra, Six Etudes for the Right Hand, Irican
York: Glimmerings, Yamour, Centerpeace, Mechanism

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates

Attacca Quartet Performs "Seven Words" at the Met Museum, April 2
The Met Museum's 2014-2015 Quartet in Residence, the Attacca Quartet, brings "Seven Words" back to the museum during Holy Week, with a newly-edited video production from Ofri Cnaani, Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 7pm.

Returning to the Met Museum after its premiere in 2013 by the Salzburg Chamber Soloists, "Seven Words" provides a uniquely spiritual aural and visual experience that transcends the boundaries of any one religion. The renowned Attacca Quartet takes on this formidable project, described by The New York Times as "ambitious and thoughtful," for the first time together with video artist Ofri Cnaani at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium on Thursday, April 2 at 7pm. Tickets are $45; visit for tickets or call 212-570-3949 for more information.

Performed in near-darkness, Seven Words juxtaposes Haydn's transformative Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross with a compelling and immersive live video installation, newly edited by Ofri Cnaani. For this performance, Attacca will perform the string quartet arrangement of the piece and collaborate with Cnaani on staging and direction. The power of Haydn's music, Cnaani's visuals, and the darkness of the room lend themselves to a meditative environment ideally suited for the solemnity of Holy Week. The power of "Seven Words," however, can be universally felt by members of all faiths.

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Modigliani Quartet Embarks on Seven-City North American Tour April 9-20
The quartet's concert programs span centuries, ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Shostakovich and Dohnányi. Appearances include Houston, Tulsa, Montreal, Sleepy Hollow, Dallas and both Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York.

The Modigliani Quartet, now in their twelfth year of playing together, will embark on a seven-city tour April 9th-20th, performing in Houston, Tulsa, Montreal, Dallas, Westchester and at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall and Town Hall in New York.. Their programs, which vary from city to city, include works by Beethoven, Debussy, Dohnányi, Mozart, Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich.

Apr 9, 7:30 p.m. -  Houston, TX
Apr 11, 7:30 p.m. - Tulsa, OK
Apr 12, 3:00 p.m. - Tulsa, OK
Apr 14, 7:30 p.m. - New York, NY
Apr 15, 7:30 p.m. - Montreal, QC
Apr 18, 8:00 p.m. - Sleepy Hollow, NY
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. - New York, NY
Apr 20, 8:00 p.m. - Dallas, TX

For more information, visit

--Rebecca Davis, Universal Music

Chicago Duo Piano Festival Presents Competition for Young Duos May 30
The Music Institute of Chicago's popular Chicago Duo Piano Festival, as part of its mission to foster the performance and teaching of music for piano duo for young performers, presents its 2015 Competition for Young Piano Duos May 30 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL.

The competition is open to students between the ages of eight and 18 in two divisions, Elementary and High School. Competitors may perform two or three works for piano duo—either four hands, one piano, or four hands, two pianos, or a combination. The winners concert takes place Saturday, May 30  at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Chicago's classical music radio network WFMT will record the High School Division winners for later broadcast. Elementary Division prizes are $500 for first place, $300 for second place, and $200 for third place. High School Division prizes are $800 for first place, $600 for second place, and $400 for third place. The judges will be experts in piano duo and ensemble performance who are not affiliated with the Music Institute.

The registration deadline is April 15, 2015. Information and an application are available at

The Competition for Young Piano Duos concert, which takes place Saturday, May 30 at 7 p.m. is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Decca Classics and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Announce Five-Year Partnership
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is pleased to announce a five-year partnership agreement with Decca Classics, a prestigious label on which the Orchestra recorded about 80 albums from the beginning of the 1980s to the early 2000s. The OSM wished to share this happy development on the occasion its 2015-2016 season launch.

"We at the OSM are delighted to reunite with our historic partner and look forward to the special artistic projects which will result of this collaboration," stated Kent Nagano, music director.

"We're very happy to be re-signing with the prestigious international record label Decca, with whom we were highly active in the recording market for over 20 years. Even though the industry has undergone upheavals and the OSM itself has diversified the ways in which it supplies its music to audiences, our desire is to continue to make recordings that enable the Orchestra to maintain its international celebrity has never faded," stated Madeleine Careau, chief executive officer.

"It gives me great pleasure to see the return of the OSM to Decca, its recording home for so many years. Now in its magnificent new hall it is sounding back to its very best under the enterprising musical direction of Kent Nagano. The projects we have agreed, starting with L'Aiglon, add several world-premiere recordings to the catalogue, while maintaining the tradition of Francophone music that was so important during the Dutoit years. So all in all, this is a logical way to continue a much-cherished partnership," commented Paul Moseley, Managing Director of Decca.

The relationship with Decca started in 1980 when the OSM signed an exclusive contract with the label. The OSM recordings, under the Decca label, won about 40 national and international prizes, including two Grammys. The OSM is therefore particularly proud of returning to the label.

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Flash Sale - $5 Off Tickets to SESSIONS
Order your tickets to Philharmonia Baroque's SESSIONS this weekend and save $5 on every ticket with promo code ROSSI5.

Normally $25, your tickets will be just $20. Order your seats today. This offer expires on Monday, March 23.

A new concert experience!

Join conductor Nic McGegan and members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale for a guided tour of music by Salamone Rossi, key Jewish composer of the Baroque era, as well as Rossi contemporaries including Claudio Monteverdi.

This special concert at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco includes a post-concert reception where you'll mingle with Nic and the musicians and enjoy complimentary wine from Boisset Family Estates.

SESSIONS: Italian Baroque Music from the Jewish Ghetto presented in association with Arts & Ideas at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Friday, March 27 @ 8 PM, Kanbar Hall - Jewish Community Center, 3200 California Street, San Francisco, CA.

For more information, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Spring at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University
Gil Shaham Plays Bach's Six Solos for Violin, with Original Films by David Michalek
MasterCard Performance Series
Fri, Mar 27 | 7:30pm | Weill Hall

Audra McDonald
*Limited Tickets Remain!*
MasterCard Performance Series
Sat, Mar 28 | 8pm | Weill Hall

Bobby McFerrin
*Additional Tickets Just Released!*
MasterCard Performance Series
Fri, Apr 10 | 7:30pm | Weill Hall

Concerto Koln
MasterCard Performance Series
Sat, Apr 11 | 7:30pm | Weill Hall

SFJazz Collective
MasterCard Performance Series
Fri, Apr 17 | 7:30pm | Weill Hall

Lila Downs
MasterCard Performance Series
Sat, Apr 18 | 7:30pm | Weill Hall

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

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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 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 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