Classical Music News of the Week, December 31, 2016

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents World Premiere of Five Borough Songbook, Vol. II, February 11 and 12

Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) presents the world premiere of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II on Saturday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m. at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, featuring twenty brand new works from twenty different composers, commissioned by 5BMF in honor of its tenth anniversary season. The Songbook, inspired by New York City places, poetry, and themes, is performed by soprano Marnie Breckenridge, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, tenor William Ferguson, baritone Sidney Outlaw, pianists Jocelyn Dueck and Erika Switzer, and cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman. An additional performance is held on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall in Queens.

The Songbook features new solo works, duets and ensemble pieces by some of today's leading composers of new classical music including Matthew Aucoin, Lembit Beecher, Conrad Cummings, Jonathan Dawe, Evan Fein, Daniel Felsenfeld, Herschel Garfein, Whitney George, Marie Incontrera, Laura Kaminsky, Libby Larsen, Hannah Lash, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, Robert Paterson, Paola Prestini, Kevin Puts, Kamala Sankaram, Gregory Spears, and Bora Yoon.

The second volume builds on the success of the initial Five Borough Songbook, which was developed during 5BMF's fifth anniversary season, and also featured twenty commissions from twenty different composers that were presented in concerts in all five boroughs, and preserved as a two-disc recording that topped the Billboard classical charts.

Both concerts on February 11th and 12th are preceded by a one-hour "Composer Chat" featuring Songbook creators. Future performances of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II will be held in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island throughout 2017, with concert dates and locations to be announced.

Tickets: $40 for VIP, $30 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors, available at

For more information, visit

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

West Edge Opera Announces Snapshot Cast and Orchestra
West Edge Opera is proud to announce the artists involved in Snapshot. Over the course of two programs presented in both Berkeley and San Francisco, Snapshot presents excerpts from eight previously unproduced operas by Northern California composers and librettists. Snapshot's chamber orchestra is comprised of members of San Francisco contemporary music ensemble Earplay and will be led by Earplay's Mary Chun and West Edge Opera Music Director Jonathan Khuner.

The first Snapshot program takes place at 8 p.m. on January 21st at Berkeley's David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way) and at 3 p.m. on January 22nd at San Francisco's Bayview Opera House (4705 3rd Street). The cast of the first Snapshot program includes mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott, soprano Chelsea Hollow, soprano Ann Moss, soprano Kristen Princiotta, baritone Jason Sarten, mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, soprano Shawnette Sulker, and tenor Jacob Thompson. Comprised of members of San Francisco-based new music ensemble Earplay, the orchestra for Snapshot's first program includes pianist Karen Rosenak, violinist Terrie Baune, cellist Dan Reiter, bassist Michel Taddei, percussionist Kevin Neuhoff, and flutist Stacey Pelinka. The first Snapshot program features excerpts from David Conte and John Stirling Walker's Famous, Stephen Eddins and Michael O'Brien's Why I Live at the P.O., William David Cooper and Will Dunlap's Hagar and Ishmael, and Alden Jenks's Afterworld.

The second Snapshot program will be presented at Berkeley's David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way) at 8 p.m. on February 25th, and at San Francisco's Bayview Opera House (4705 3rd Street) at 3 p.m. on February 26th. The cast of the second Snapshot program includes baritone Daniel Cilli, tenor Darron Flagg, soprano Amy Foote, soprano Julia Hathaway, mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney, and tenor Joe Meyers. Members of Earplay form the chamber orchestra for the second Snapshot program, including pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi, clarinetist Nick di Scala, flutist Stacey Pelinka, bassoonist Erin Levine, percussionist Kevin Neuhoff, violinist Kate Stenberg, violist Ellen Ruth Rose, cellist Leighton Fong, and bassist Kristin Zoernig. The second Snapshot program will include excerpts from Carla Lucero's Touch, Allen Shearer and Claudia Stevens's Howards End, America, Linda Bouchard's The House of Words, and Liam Wade and Vynnie Meli's The Stranger the Better.

General admission tickets, at $30, are on sale now and available for purchase by calling (510) 841-1903 or at

--Kate McKinney, West Edge Opera

Salon/Sanctuary Concerts: "Of Meistersingers and Mizmorim"
The art world has always been a bastion of globalism, with artists constantly borrowing from one another to create new, previously inconceivable works. In our increasingly anti-globalist, anti-immigrant time, it is important to remember that many of the artistic works that we hold dear would not have been possible without centuries of cultural exchange.

Few people know about the art world's multicultural debt more than Jessica Gould, the Artistic Director and Founder of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts. Salon/Sanctuary is a concert series that presents "early music in intimate venues which complement both the acoustic and the historical context of the repertoire" in order to "encourage understanding among people of different faiths." I recently spoke with Ms. Gould over the phone about Salon/Sanctuary Concerts' 2016-2017 season, "On the Margins," which explores the musical and historical world of exile. Our discussion focused primarily on the next installment in the series, "Of Meistersingers and Mizmorim: The Wandering Troubador, The Origins of Klezmer, and the Medieval Roots of Wagnerian Fantasy."

It's not a connection that most people would make, certainly, which is one of the reasons why I did this. Most of my motivation when programming is to draw attention to less explored avenues of music history--to use music as a window on history. This program doesn't say that there is a parallel between Wagner and the origins of Klezmer (which are in the Middle Ages). Rather, it points out the flaw in the Wagnerian mythology, that there was somehow a racial purity in the Middle Ages, an idea cherished by the Nazi party in the 30s. In reality, it was anything but "pure." It was a mishmash throughout Europe--there were wandering troubadours from France, Yiddish civilization was spread far and wide, and Poland became a refuge for many victims of expulsions throughout Europe.

Music and Texts by Moniot de Paris, Mahieu le Juif, Guiraut Riquier, Obadiah the Proselyte, and anonymous songs and dances.

Corina Marti: recorders & clavisymbalum
Ivo Haun: tenor
Ayelet Karni: recorders, pipe and tabor
Christa Patton: harp

For tickets and information, visit and

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day Concert to Air on Great Performances January 1
The Vienna Philharmonic's annual New Year's Day concert, "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2017," conducted for the first time by Gustavo Dudamel, will air on Great Performances on PBS stations across the country on Sunday, January 1.

For more than 75 years, the Vienna Philharmonic has ushered in the New Year with the light and lively, quintessentially Austrian music of Johann Strauss, his family, and their contemporaries, performed at Vienna's Musikverein. Since 1987, the concert has featured a different conductor each year, and this year Mr. Dudamel, 35, will be the youngest-ever to lead the popular and festive New Year's concert. The Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert is broadcast in over 90 countries and will have an estimated 50 million television viewers, making it the largest worldwide event in classical music.

Among traditional waltzes, polkas and other works, Mr. Dudamel will conduct Strauss's famous "Blue Danube" Waltz on the occasion of the work's 150th anniversary, and pieces by Otto Nicolai, founder of the Vienna Philharmonic. Host Julie Andrews will also take the viewer to picturesque Viennese landmarks, including Otto Nicolai's study in the Haus der Musik, and will join Mr. Dudamel in visiting the student musicians of Superar, the Sistema organization for Central Europe. Mr. Dudamel was famously a product of the Sistema program in his native Venezuela, and this broadcast will offer a special look at these talented musicians of tomorrow.

--Schuman Associates

Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (CD review)

Also, Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. Evgeny Mravinsky, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. HDTT remastered.

Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is something of an odd duck, and it's one that many movie buffs may recognize from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Hungarian composer Bela Bartok (1881-1945) wrote it in 1936 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the chamber orchestra Basler Kammerorchester, and it has since become one of the composers most well-known works. It is a somewhat strange, curious, even eerie piece of music, at least the way most conductors have approached it. I always think of it as atmospheric, with several of my favorite recordings of it coming at it from distinctly different directions: Leonard Bernstein (Sony) gave it an energetic reading; Herbert von Karajan (DG) provided a cushier, more glamorous setting; Pierre Boulez (Sony and DG) was more precise and exacting; Eugene Ormandy (EMI) was most eloquent; Sir Georg Solti (Decca) was a bit more brazen and robust; Sir Charles Mackerras (Linn) added a greater element of lyricism to the mix; and, for me, Fritz Reiner (RCA) delivered probably the best, most authoritative all-around interpretation.

Then there's the Russian conductor Evgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988) who gave us this 1965 recording, now remastered by HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers). Mravinsky's version doesn't really fit any of the traditional categories, and listeners may either love it or hate it for its almost diabolical intensity. What's more, listeners may either love or hate the live sound, too, which the folks at HDTT have remastered quite well. But it's still live, with all its attendant charms and problems, depending on one's point of view.

Whatever, the first movement is like a slow fugue, its tempos changing up repeatedly. It starts out with extremely subdued strings and becomes louder and thicker as more instruments join the mix. After a quickened climax, the music eventually settles back into quietness. While Mravinsky doesn't necessarily take any of this quicker than other conductors, he does seem to intensify it more. There is little of the moody, atmospheric tone one usually hears, the aura replaced by more of an aggressive dynamism. Still, it's not entirely out of the mainstream, and if it weren't for the distracting audience noises throughout the quieter passages, it would be quite thrilling.

Evgeny Mravinsky
The second movement is fairly fast, distinguished by syncopated piano and percussion tones, a swirling dance subject, a lengthy pizzicato segment, and a vigorous conclusion. I found this section most effective under Mravinsky, the tension mounting appropriately, the contrasts nicely projected, the excitement well articulated.

The third, slow-movement Adagio is Bartók's "Night Music." It showcases a gliding effect for timpani, including a prominent part for xylophone. For me, Mravinsky's melodramatic take on it is more Halloween spooky than mysterious, expressionistic, or unearthly. That said, it remains a fascinating piece of writing, and the conductor does seem to be having fun voicing it, even if it appears to be more Mravinsky's voice than Bartok's.

The final movement begins with timpani and strummed pizzicato string chords and quickly moves into the lively flavor of a Hungarian folk dance. Here, I loved Mravinsky's vigorous attack on the music and its swirling rhythms. So, all's well that ends well.

The other selection on the album is Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune ("Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"), a brief tone poem for orchestra premiered in 1894 by French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Even if Debussy disliked the term "impressionist" applied to his work, there can hardly be a better word to describe the Prelude. My Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines musical impressionism as a "style of composition in which lush harmonies, subtle rhythms, and unusual tonal colors are used to evoke moods and impressions."

Debussy wrote of the Prelude that it "is a very free illustration of Mallarmé's beautiful poem. By no means does it claim to be a synthesis of it. Rather there is a succession of scenes through which pass the desires and dreams of the faun in the heat of the afternoon. Then, tired of pursuing the timorous flight of nymphs and naiads, he succumbs to intoxicating sleep, in which he can finally realize his dreams of possession in universal Nature."

So, how sensuous or sensual is Mravinsky's faun and his daydreams? Put it this way: Don't expect the lavish textures of a Karajan here. Do expect a precise, well-chiseled account of the score, maybe not as sinuous or sexy as it could be but well outlined in any case.

The Russian record label Melodiya recorded the music live at the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic in March 1965. HDTT transferred it from a 15ips tape to DSD256 in 2016, and they make it available in a variety of formats: DSD256, DSD128, DSD64, DXD PCM, and PCM Flac digital downloads; DVD Audio; and compact disc.

Anyway, it is live, and one always knows it. If you don't mind the sound of the audience--coughs, shuffling, breathing, wheezing, gagging, and, as if you couldn't guess, plenty of applause--it shouldn't bother you. It did me. But if the audience noises don't annoy you, the sound is clean and detailed, if somewhat thin and hard. Dynamics are wide, impact moderately good, highs sparkling, and orchestral depth rewardingly realistic.

For further information on HDTT products, prices, discs, and downloads in a variety of formats, you can visit their Web site at


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Classical Music News of the Week, December 24, 2016

ACO and BIS Records Co-Commission New Piano Concerto from José Serebrier

Jose Serebrier
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces a new co-commission in cooperation with the record label BIS, for Symphonic B A C H Variations for Piano and Orchestra, a piano concerto by composer and conductor José Serebrier. The ACO commission is made possible by a special grant from long-time ACO board member Paul Underwood. The Swedish label BIS will undertake the recording with pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, exclusive BIS artist, with an orchestra to be announced.

BIS previously commissioned José Serebrier's Flute Concerto with Tango, which they recorded with soloist Sharon Bezaly and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. American Composers Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere in 2012. José Serebrier has received commissions from the Harvard Musical Association, National Endowment for the Arts, the Joffrey Ballet and many others. His works have been recorded by Leopold Stokowski, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and others.

Yevgeny Sudbin has been hailed by The Telegraph as "potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century." As BIS Records' only exclusive artist, all of Sudbin's recordings have met with critical acclaim and are regularly featured as CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine or Editor's Choice by Gramophone. His Scriabin recording was awarded CD of the Year by The Telegraph and received the MIDEM Classical Award for Best Solo Instrument Recording at Cannes. It was described by Gramophone as "a disc in a million" while the International Record Review stated that his Rachmaninov recording "confirms him as one of the most important pianistic talents of our time." Sudbin was born in St. Petersburg in 1980 and began his musical studies at the Specialist Music School of the St Petersburg Conservatory with Lyubov Pevsner at the age of 5. He emigrated with his family to Germany in 1990 where he continued his studies at Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule. In 1997, Sudbin moved to London to study at the Purcell School and subsequently the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees under Christopher Elton.

For more information, visit José Serebrier at
and American Composers Orchestra at

--Katy Salomon, Jensen Artists

New World Symphony to Launch Project 305 and Crowdsource Audio and Video for a Symphonic Work
New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy (NWS), will begin crowdsourcing audio and video content for Project 305, an initiative to create a collaborative symphonic work that reflects the city of Miami through the eyes and ears of its residents. Composer Ted Hearne and filmmaker Jonathan David Kane will lead the project, working closely with the MIT Media Lab and Tod Machover, whose previous crowdsourced City Symphonies serve as the foundation for this collaborative work.

By incorporating video from the public in addition to audio, Project 305 marks a new development in the collaborative symphony concept. NWS will be accepting submissions from Miami residents from January 31 through May 12, 2017, and the new work will be premiered on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at a WALLCAST concert conducted by NWS Artistic Director and co-founder Michael Tilson Thomas, with subsequent presentations to follow in communities and neighborhoods throughout Miami. The project is made possible through support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

For more information, visit and

--Shuman Associates PR

California Symphony Performs Beethoven's Symphony No. 4
Music Director Donato Cabrera leads the California Symphony in the Orchestra's first performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 with Romanian-Austrian pianist Maria Radutu, who is making her West Coast orchestral debut as soloist, Sunday, January 22 at 4 pm at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Christopher Theofanidis's Peace Love Light YOUMEONE, written during his tenure as the Orchestra's Young American Composer-in-Residence (1994-96), opens the concert.

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA.

Theofanidis's Bassoon Concerto was nominated this month for a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, for a recording of a performance by Northwest Sinfonia and conducted by California Symphony's founding Music Director, Barry Jekowsky.

Theofanidis, 48, who won the Rome Prize and the International Masterprize in Composition, was previously nominated for a Grammy Award for best composition for his chorus and orchestra work, The Here and Now, based on the poetry of Rumi. His orchestral concert work, Rainbow Body, is one of the most performed recent orchestral works. Theofanidis has written a ballet for the American Ballet Theatre, a work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera for his 2011 opera Heart of a Soldier. He has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony, and in 2009 had his first symphony premiered and recorded with that orchestra. His 2015 oratorio Creation/Creator was also commissioned and premiered by the Atlanta Symphony.

Theofanidis "uses sound in a way that suggests bright colors – bold blues, bold yellows – it's quite visceral. His is a very powerful voice, creating music that is using the full palette of emotional colors," said Donato Cabrera.

Tickets are $42-$72 and $20 for students, subject to change. Tickets are available at or 925-943-7469. A preconcert talk by Music Director Donato Cabrera, free to ticketholders, begins at 3 pm.

For more information, visit

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Take Five Concert for Musica Viva NY Features Aeolus Quartet and Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez
The Aeolus Quartet and Musica Viva NY Artistic Director and pianist Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez are featured in Take Five—a concert of piano quintets and string quartets to benefit Musica Viva NY's artistic and outreach endeavors—on Sunday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church (Lexington Avenue and 80th Street, NYC).

The program features a new arrangement of Paul Desmond's jazz standard Take Five for piano quintet by Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, as well as Aaron Copland's Two Pieces for String Quartet, Samuel Barber's String Quartet, and Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva NY is driven by a desire to share the transcendent power of choral and instrumental music with audiences in New York City and beyond. Based in Manhattan's historic All Souls Church, Musica Viva NY's imaginative programming offers joy, solace, and renewal in a complex world. Presenting a broad repertoire of new compositions and classic masterworks, Musica Viva NY emphasizes artistic excellence and transformative interpretations to ennoble the human spirit.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva NY's 2016-17 season include Voices in Motion (Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m.), and An Elegy for all Humanity: Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem (Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m.) at All Souls Church. Additionally, an intimate MUSICAnocturna concert, Forever Young: Great American Songs, is held at NY229—a private townhouse in midtown Manhattan—on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Take Five is free and open to the public with a free-will donation at the door to benefit Musica Viva NY's artistic offerings and outreach endeavors.

Program Information:
Take Five: A Musica Viva NY Fundraiser
Sunday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m.

All Souls Church
1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street)
New York, NY 10075

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Give the Gift of Song
Young People's Chorus of New York City: As our choristers give the gift of song to unite so many different communities this season, I ask for your support. Singing in harmony, standing side by side, over 1,600 choristers from throughout New York City and beyond are raising their radiant voices to send a clear, crystalline message of hope.

Before the year ends, we ask you to support our young people by making a contribution to YPC. Your gift will help us continue to build a bridge of mutual respect, harmony, and understanding.

Help us empower every child with the skills they need to thrive in the future.

For more information and to contribute, visit

--Young People's Chorus of NYC

Make Twice the Difference for the Music You Love
The past few years have seen triumph after triumph for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra - and without your support these achievements would not have been possible. Artistic innovation, critical acclaim and incredibly strong collaborations have propelled the Orchestra to the forefront of the early music scene.

Your donation each year is a vote of confidence in the beautiful music that happens throughout the Bay Area and in concert halls across the country. Each contribution makes each season a reality and shows our institutional funders our continued relevance in the field.

As you may know, last year PBO was lucky enough to be the recipient of an extraordinary $150,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies in recognition of our artistic excellence and organizational strength. Supporters like you helped ensure that we received that first grant with matching donations last year.

This year, Bloomberg has challenged us, once again, to raise $30,000 in additional funds to match their second $150,000 grant - will you help us?

Please make your gift before December 31st and help us meet Bloomberg Philanthropies' challenge. We can't do it without your support today.

For more information and to contribute, visit

--Noelle R. Moss, Director of Development, PBO

Centuries of Music History for Your Smartphone with Infomusic
To celebrate the launch of its music history app for smartphones and iOS devices that's taking the classical music world by storm, Informusic announces that it is pricing the app at just 99 cents through January 1, 2017.

Created by Drew Schweppe  and refined along with a select team of leading musicologists, performers, professors, and historians, Informusic is the all-in-one music history and composer resource that means that music students and classical music fans alike will now be able to access a wealth of detailed musical history facts and information with just the swipe of a finger. Now – even better – they can do so for just 99 cents (USD)! It's the unbeatable holiday gift for classical musicians, teachers, students, and fans worldwide.

Informusic offers a huge array of detailed information on Western Art Music's greatest composers and compositions, from the Medieval era, through the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras – and with more expansions yet to come. At the swipe of a screen, users can browse Informusic for such useful and fascinating information as composer biographies, quick facts, and complete works, along with program notes, sheet music, audio samples, and suggested further scholarship.

Informusic also features interactive timelines that enable users to scroll through the chronology of a composer's life and greatest achievements, helping to contextualize musical events with other disciplines like art, literature, politics, and beyond. Users can also curate their searches with ease to filter by year, event type, or specific keywords. The app is constantly updated with ever-expanding content and composers as well.

For more information, visit

--Angela Mitchell, Public Relations, Informusic

PBO Does Rare Gyrowetz with Haydn and Mozart in January
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale kick off the new year with masters Haydn & Mozart in performances throughout the Bay Area January 25-29. PBO music director Nicholas McGegan is considered a leading interpreter of Haydn and will conduct Haydn's Symphony No. 91 following performances of Aldalbert Gyrowetz's Symphony Op. 6, No. 3 and Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 "Turkish," featuring PBO violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock on violin.

McGegan has established himself as a leading interpreter of Haydn. He is known to bring out the humor in his music, particularly in the symphonies. He also pays close attention to the little flourishes and details that other conductors may let slip by.

Wednesday January 25, 7:30 pm
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA

Friday January 27, 8 pm
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Saturday January 28, 8 pm
First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday January 29, 4 pm
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Lafayette, CA

Price: Range from $27 to $108.

Tickets: Available at City Box Office 415-392-4400 or

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Berkeley Symphony and Anna Clyne Chosen for Three-Year Residency Award
Berkeley Symphony and composer Anna Clyne have been chosen from a field of 59 applicant pairs to participate in a three-year composer-orchestra residency program, Music Alive, created by the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. Berkeley Symphony and Clyne are one of only five composer-orchestra pairs to be selected by their peers, who represent a cross-section the U.S. orchestra world. The other four new Music Alive composer-orchestra pairings are Lembit Beecher and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Stacy Garrop and Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Hannibal Lokumbe and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Jerod Tate and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

Beginning in January 2017 and continuing for three seasons, the Music Alive program prioritizes collaborative work and immersive experiences for composers, orchestra musicians, artistic leadership, and community members. Music Alive hopes to demonstrate, through active partnership with the participants, the power and value of living composers working at the center of American orchestras.

For more information, visit and

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

FAYM Newsletter December
Foundation to Assist Young Musicians: "Building Better Futures Through Music"

On Saturday afternoon, December 6th FAYM held our 8th annual Holiday Recital at the East Las Vegas Community Center. Tim Thomas led the student string orchestra. The students played to a packed house of family, friends, and community members.

On Tuesday, December 6th, FAYM was awarded $2,500 from the Las Vegas Speedway Children's Charities. Executive Director Paulette Anderson hosted several FAYM students and their families for a holiday feast, gifts, and the presentation of the grant. This $2,500 will help expand FAYM's efforts to bring music to more "at possibility" students!

Congratulations to the newly elected officers of FAYM's Board of Directors:
Arturo Ochoa, President
Dick McGee, Vice President
Eugenia Burkett, Treasurer
Gloria Gorlin, Secretary
FAYM's Tenth Anniversary Year will be in good hands with their leadership!

This holiday season, give the gift of music to children in our community. Please include FAYM in your end of year giving. Visit

--Hal Weller, FAYM

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos (CD review)

Also, Harpsichord Concertos; Violin Concertos. Reinhard Goebel, Musica Antiqua Koln; Simon Standage, violin, with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. DG Panorama 289 469 103-2 (2-disc set).

This two-disc set is a part of DG's series of important classical works culled from their back catalog. It features the six Brandenburg Concertos, the two Harpsichord Concertos, and the two Violin Concertos, all done on period instruments. The concept is fine, but I have to question DG's choice of representative recordings.

The centerpiece of the collection is, of course, the group of Brandenburgs, and here lies the main problem. Why did DG choose violinist and conductor Reinhard Goebel's 1987 performances, when they had Trevor Pinnock's superb realizations at hand? Goebel's interpretations are among those that put breakneck speed above everything else. They're mostly hell-bent-for-leather affairs, attempts to show off the band's virtuosity at the expense of presenting anything worth listening to. I frankly doubt that in Bach's time many orchestras would have played the pieces at such reckless tempos. For one thing, the eighteenth century was the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, and I doubt that listeners would have countenanced such hectic, almost foolhardy playing; for another, there probably weren't many house bands in Germany masterly enough to have accomplished the deed. So what's the point of "authenticity" if the interpretations probably bear little relation to reality?

Reinhard Goebel
Anyway, I recognize that a lot of people will find Goebel's Brandenburg readings invigorating and fun. However, I found them almost totally devoid of the charm, zest, delight, and refinement I hear in so many other period performances, like those from Trevor Pinnock and either the European Brandenburg Ensemble (Avie) or English Concert (DG Archiv), Jeanne Lamon and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Tafelmusik or Sony), Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo's Fire (Avie), Jordi Savall and Les Concert des Nations (Astree), or the Leonhardt Ensemble (Sony), among others.

Fortunately, the accompanying Harpsichord and Violin Concertos are excellent, particularly the latter, featuring Simon Standage as violinist with Pinnock and his English Concert in accompiment. Pinnock and company play the works with appropriate zeal, yet they never sound anything but cultured and comfortable.

The early Eighties sound in the Violin Concertos is also quite fetching--cleaner, smoother, and more natural than in the other pieces on the discs. At a modest price, this DG set may seem inviting, but, overall, I'd stick with recommended individual accounts, even if the asking price is higher.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" (CD review)

Valery Gergiev, Munich Philharmonic. Munchner Philharmoniker MPHL0002.

The album's booklet notes begin with German composer Hans Pfitzner's now-famous remark that Bruckner wrote only one symphony but wrote it nine times in all. That may not be entirely true as one could say the same thing about any number of composers, like most of Wagner and Vivaldi and the early symphonies of Haydn and Mozart. Nonetheless, I suppose, there is a point to the remark, namely that Bruckner did have a uniquely personal, spiritually Romantic musical style that he repeated in most of his symphonies. If that is the case, then there was probably no better example of it than his Fourth Symphony, possibly his most-popular work.

Austrian composer and organist Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) wrote his Symphony No. 4 in E flat major "Romantic" in 1874, revising it several times before his death. (Here, conductor Valery Gergiev uses the 1878-80 revision edited by Leopold Nowak in 1953). The work's popularity no doubt stems largely from its abundance of Romantic, programmatic qualities, which Maestro Gergiev plays with a melodramatic fullness. Bruckner was a profoundly spiritual man, and his symphonies illustrate the point. Plus, you may recall that the composer tells us what each of the movements in the symphony represents, from knights riding out of a medieval castle through the mists of dawn to the sounds of the forest and birds, to a funeral, then a hunt, complete with horn calls, and finally a brilliant culminating summation.

The question, though, is not if or why people like the Fourth Symphony nor what the symphony is "about." The question is whether Maestro Gergiev brings to his performance anything new, anything we haven't heard before, anything that might set it apart from the many fine recordings that have come before it. After all, we already have performances by Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra (EMI), Karl Bohm and Vienna Philharmonic (Decca), Eugen Jochum with both the Berlin Philharmonic (DG) and the Dresden State Orchestra (EMI), Gunther Wand and the Berlin Philharmonic (RCA), Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (DG), and Georg Tintner and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Naxos), to name a few.

My answer to the above question about Gergiev is, well, maybe not. Let's take a look.

In the first movement Bruckner offers us a vision of Nature, and the composer's several scenic landscapes should remind us of how much Bruckner admired Beethoven and Wagner. Here, composer wants us to see a morning breaking, the mists around a medieval castle giving way to dawn, whereupon an army of knights bursts forth from the castle gates in a blaze of glory. In this first section, Gergiev does what he does best: he gives us a highly theatrical reading. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of the spiritual majesty Bruckner seems to have intended, either, just the theatrics of the programmatic music.

Valery Gergiev
The second-movement Andante is a serenade--night music that represents in this instance a young lad's amorous but ultimately hopeless longings and expressions. I've always thought it sounded elegiac, halfway between a nocturne and a funeral march, the composer indicating he wanted a slow but comfortably moderate pace (quasi Allegretto). Here's the thing, though: I'm not sure Gergiev really gives us a "comfortably moderate pace." It's more like a slow dirge, and it appears to represent not so much a lad's hopeless amorous longings as it does his total defeat at the hands of his would-be lover.

Bruckner teasingly called the lively third-movement Scherzo "a rabbit hunt," and it should build a proper momentum as it goes forward. It's in this faster section that I found Gergiev most at home, perhaps the livelier spirits inspiring him. It moves along with high good cheer, and the Munich players seem to delight in it.

The Finale, which like the Scherzo opens with a heroic theme, works its way into a more-idyllic second subject and then reworks them both into a closing statement. This movement begins rather ominously, with dark clouds overhead, leading before long to a thunderstorm; however, the storm eventually breaks and gives way to variations on the symphony's heroic opening theme and a summation of all the parts. If you're wondering what it means, even Bruckner himself was at something of a loss when asked. He said, "...even I myself can't say what I was thinking about at the time." Whatever, Gergiev handles it about as he did the first movement, emphasizing the dramatic contrasts at the expense of any refined, high-flown ethereal qualities. It's a fairly direct reading, then, mostly serious, leaning to the sullen side, slightly slow and calculated, and highly theatrical. If that's the way you view Bruckner, Gergiev is your man.

Producer Johannes Muller and engineer Gerald Junge recorded the music at the Gasteig Culture Center, Munich in September 2015. The first thing one notices about the recording is that it displays an enormous dynamic range. It will start very softly and build to huge climaxes. This is good; it's what happens in live music, even though it annoys some home listeners. So, when it begins, avoid the temptation to turn it up, or the volume may knock you out of your seat. Also good are the sound of the hall itself, a mild ambient bloom, and the stereo spread and depth.

Not so good, however, is that the sound isn't exactly the most transparent. In fact, there's a slight veil over the proceedings, and detailing that we might want to hear is not always present. There are some odd pre-echoes, too, as well as a small degree of fuzziness in the upper frequencies. So, you get a big, wide, somewhat dark, soft, shrouded sound that makes the recording seem as though you were listening from a farther distance away from the orchestra than you might like.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Classical Music News of the Week, December 17, 2016

West Edge Opera Inaugurates Snapshot, Highlights California Composers' Works

West Edge Opera inaugurates "Snapshot." New program highlights Northern California composers' works, January 21 and 22; February 25 and 26, 2017.

"I wish there had been something like Snapshot when I was first coming along and looking for such opportunities." -- Jake Heggie

This January and February West Edge Opera inaugurates Snapshot, an initiative that introduces new work by both emerging and established Northern California composers. Conceived and curated by composer Brian M. Rosen, Snapshot presents excerpts from eight previously unproduced operas over two programs performed in intimate concert settings in venues in Berkeley and San Francisco: the Goldman Theater at the David Brower Center at 2150 Allston Way in Berkeley and the historic and newly renovated Bayview Opera House at 4705 3rd Street in San Francisco. Conductors Mary Chun and Jonathan Khuner lead an instrumental chamber group featuring members of San Francisco-based new music ensemble Earplay.

On January 21st at 8:00 p.m. at the David Brower Center and January 22nd at 3:00 p.m. at the Bayview Opera House, Snapshot presents the work of David Conte, Stephen Eddins, William David Cooper and Alden Jenks.

Works by Carla Lucero, Allen Shearer, Linda Bouchard and Liam Wade comprise the second program of Snapshot, presented on February 25th at 8:00 p.m. at the David Brower Center and February 26th at 3:00 p.m. at the Bayview Opera House.

Earplay has been a cornerstone of new music performance in the SF Bay Area since its formation in 1985. Throughout its history the chamber ensemble has commissioned over 80 works and premiered more than 140 pieces by today's leading composers. The musicians return to work with West Edge Opera in Snapshot after performing in last year's Powder Her Face. Conducting duties will be split between Earplay's Mary Chun and West Edge Opera Music Director Jonathan Khuner. Vocalists are being confirmed and will be announced shortly.

Named after the "father of the modern environmental movement," the David Brower Center houses 28 national and international organizations dedicated to environmental advocacy and creating sustainable living conditions for the global community. The Goldman Theater is an intimate space for lectures and performances within the center. The Bayview Opera House is an 1888 registered historic landmark and San Francisco's oldest theater.  A venue located in the heart of San Francisco's most diverse area, the organization is committed to providing affordable arts education opportunities for all.

Members of the audience will be treated to video introductions with Snapshot's composers and librettists before each excerpt at both venues. General admission tickets go on sale December 1st and will be available online at or by phone at (510) 841-1903. Tickets are $30 each.

--Kate McKinney, West Edge Opera

Mirror Visions Ensemble Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Concert on January 16
Mirror Visions Ensemble (MVE) celebrates its 25th anniversary on Monday, January 16 at 8:00 p.m. at the Loreto Theater at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture with a concert entitled "Reflections and Projections: 25 Years of Mirror Visions." Sopranos Vira Slywotzky and Justine Aronson are joined by tenor Scott Murphree, baritones Jesse Blumberg and Mischa Bouvier, and pianists Alan Darling and Margaret Kampmeier.

MVE was founded from a desire to explore the relationship between music and text, initially through the creation of "mirror visions"--settings of the same text to music by different composers. Throughout the group's history, the ensemble has championed and fostered the work of new composers, providing a platform for their works to be showcased through the commissioning and performance of over 80 works by 24 composers, creating deep contributions to the catalogue of American art song.

The anniversary concert showcases MVE's commitment to new work and includes the world premieres of the four winning pieces from the ensemble's inaugural Young Composer's Competition: Margaret Barrett's At a Window, with text by Carl Sandburg; John Glover's Squall with text by Leonora Speyer; Aaron Grad's Invitation to Love with text by Paul Laurence Dunbar; and Daniel Temkin's Summer Rain with text by James Joyce and Amy Lowell.

For more information, visit

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Gregg Kallor's Setting of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" at SubCulture January 14
Pianist/composer Gregg Kallor brings his acclaimed setting of Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," to SubCulture on January 14, 2017 with soprano Melody Moore and cellist Joshua Roman, featuring a semi-staging by Sarah Meyers. The sold-out premiere in October and final concert of Unison Media's Crypt Sessions concert series was featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NYC Arts 13, and on NY1 among others.

"I can't think of a better opera to become a new Halloween tradition." --New York Observer

Kallor has also been commissioned to write a new work for string orchestra by Town Hall Seattle, which will be premiered by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Joshua Roman on June 21st, 2017.

SubCulture Presents: Gregg Kallor - "The Tell-Tale Heart," with Melody Moore, soprano, and Joshua Roman, cello. Directed by Sarah Meyers

January 14, 2017 | Doors 10PM | Show 11PM
Tickets: $35

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Opera Star Deborah Voigt to Join Vireo - a Made-for-TV-and-Online Opera by Lisa Bielawa
Composer Lisa Bielawa's Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser will feature world-renowned opera star Deborah Voigt singing a role created for her in Vireo's Episode Eleven, "Circus," to be shot on January 20, 2017 at the 16th Street Oakland Train Station in Oakland, California.

Vireo is a new, made-for-TV-and-online opera composed by Lisa Bielawa on a libretto by Erik Ehn and directed by Charles Otte, which is unprecedented in that it is being created expressly in 12, 10-to-15-minute episodes for release online and on TV. In May 2017, KCET in Southern California and Link TV nationwide (DirecTV channel 375 and Dish Network channel 9410) will release all 12 episodes of Vireo at once for free, via on-demand streaming, which is a first for both. Vireo is the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Multimedia Award, and was recently awarded a prestigious MAP Fund Grant for 2016 through Grand Central Art Center.

Deborah Voigt will sing the role of the Queen of Sweden in Episode Eleven, "Circus." Vireo's cast includes mezzo-soprano Maria Lazarova as Vireo's Mother, baritone Gregory Purnhagen as the Doctor, Ryan Glover as the student Raphael, mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin as the Voice/Witch, mezzo-soprano Kristen Sollek as The Cow, bass-baritone Chung Wai Soong as The Elephant, 15-year-old soprano Emma MacKenzie as Vireo's mysterious twin Caroline, and 18-year-old soprano Rowen Sabala in the title role of Vireo. "Circus" will also include Magik*Magik Orchestra; San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) & Chorus School; Lance Suzuki, piccolo; Matthias Bossi, drums; and approximately 50 amateur musicians, participating via the Amateur Music Network, in the role of The Audience.

The final episode of Vireo, "My Name is Vireo," will be shot on January 16, 2017 and will feature the Kronos Quartet with lead Rowen Sabala in a Californian redwood forest. Episode Ten is in progress, and features the Vireo cast plus violinist Jennifer Koh with members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus School; Kate Campbell, toy piano; and Randy Matamoros, hurdy-gurdy.

More information: and

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Artis-Naples Capital Campaign Reaches $40 Million Mark
Artis-Naples' CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen and Board Chairman Ned Lautenbach announced today complete board participation in the organization's Future-Forward capital campaign, an important milestone. Through the generosity of these board members, the campaign has commitments of $40 million, including 13 gifts of $1 million or more.

"I can't express deep enough admiration for my fellow board members who have accepted the challenge of this campaign and delivered unprecedented support," Lautenbach said. "This initial wave of funding shows the community how serious this organization takes its future and the future of arts and culture in Southwest Florida."

"Artis-Naples has grown tremendously over its first two-plus decades as the cultural heart of our community," van Bergen said. "Now that we have reached a certain level of financial stability, it is time to imagine what the next quarter century will bring and how we all can embrace the future of arts and culture."

For more information, visit

--Jonathan Foerster, Artis-Naples

DCINY Presents Reflections of Peace at Carnegie Hall on January 16
On January 16 at 7 p.m., Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) will present Reflections of Peace, a night of concert music featuring the NYC premiere of Kim André Arnesen's Requiem, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, as well as selected works performed by Virginia-based wind ensemble Flutopia.

Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall, NYC.

Kim André Arnesen is one of the most frequently performed classical composers from Norway today and is known for his extensive body of choral works. He is also an elected member of the Norwegian Society of Composers. Arnesen's Requiem was Commissioned by The Nidaros Cathedral Boys´ Choir and conductor Bjørn Moe, Trondheim, Norway, and premiered in Nidaros Cathedral on April 6, 2014.

About his work, Arnesen has stated "My Requiem is not dedicated to any particular person or group. I wanted to write a requiem that could provide solace to people who are in pain and grieving, or to assist in a moment of remembrance and honoring." Instead of utilizing the complete text of the original Requiem Mass, Arnesen decided to include text from foreign sources such as Emily Dickinson's poem "Not in Vain." DCINY Associate Artistic Director James Meaders will lead this NYC Premiere.

More information about the concert:
Tickets for the concert are now on sale from $20:

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

The Shared Roots of Wagner and Klezmer
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Presents "Of Meistersinger and Mizmorim: The Wandering Troubador, the Origins of Klezmer, and the Roots of Wagnerian Fantasy."

Corina Marti, recorders and clavisymbalum; Ivo Haun, tenor; Ayelet Karni, recorders; Christa Patton, harp; music and texts by Moniot de Paris, Mahieu le Juif, Guiraut Riquier, Obadiah the Proselyte, and anonymus songes and dances.

Thursday, January 12th, 8:00pm

The Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25/$35/$100; call 1-888-718-4253 or visit

For more information, visit

--Salon Sanctuary Concerts

Decca Launches Publishing Division
Decca has appointed highly respected publishing executive Natasha Baldwin to launch a music publishing division dedicated to expanding the opportunities for neo-classical composers to write for television, film and video games.

Decca Publishing, which launches in the UK this week, will complement the classical division of Universal Music Publishing, one of the largest and most respected publishers of classical music in the world.

Baldwin joins Universal Music Group as Senior Vice President, Head of Decca Publishing from Imagem Music where she was Group President, Creative & Marketing. Based in London, she reports directly to Dickon Stainer, President and CEO Universal Global Classics, while working closely with the senior team at Universal Music Publishing in London, New York and Santa Monica.

With streaming services and mood-based playlists providing a new platform for original works by neo-classical composers, Decca will offer an aligned recording and publishing strategy for its artists and their unique creative projects, such as Ludovico Einaudi's "Elements" on Decca and Max Richter's "Sleep" on Deutsche Grammophon.

Decca Publishing will work with Universal Music Publishing Classical on appropriate projects and synchronisation opportunities involving their respective composers and repertoire. The new division will also enhance Universal Music UK's other recent soundtrack composer initiatives, such as Globe Soundtrack and Score,  a label services offering for film makers and composers launched in conjunction with Abbey Road Studios.

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music Group

Spring Concerts at ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts
The ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts continues its North American debut season with three exciting concerts from its Musical Capitals and Great Muses series. Prior to its successful opening night concert on October 5, WQXR listed ASPECT Foundation's series as one of "6 Events This Fall for Classical Music Lovers," and it received critical acclaim for its sold-out first performance.   Founded in London in 2011, ASPECT Foundation has found a new locale at Columbia University's intimate Italian Academy for the 2016/17 season. "Music In Context," which expands the notion of classical music as it is experienced in the standard concert setting, incorporates a variety of art forms as well as lecture and discussion to give audience members a more multifaceted, integrated understanding of the social context and historical relevance behind a piece of music.

Guest speakers include British classical music radio broadcaster, composer, and author Stephen Johnson; historical musicologist Nicholas Chong; and Yale Assistant Professor (Adjunct) of Music History Paul Berry, who lead the series' "Illustrated Talks." By incorporating these illuminating speakers to the traditional classical music recital setting, the audience experiences some of the genre's most revered masterworks in a more contextual light, deepening understanding and appreciation for the genius of these timeless composers and their compositional legacies.

For more inforation, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Do "InsideOut" Concerts Point a Way Towards Classical Music's Future?
At a time when orchestras around the world are trying to find new ways to attract audiences, New York's Park Avenue Chamber Symphony (PACS) orchestra has a startling philosophy – developed around the idea of doing for audiences what orchestras have always done, only thrillingly more so. Their "InsideOut" concerts, trialed with great success last year, put audiences literally in the center of the music – seating them amongst the musicians, within the fabric of the orchestra itself. Last year's "InsideOut" debut sold out within days, and competition for places in the next concert in the series – on February 4th 2017 at the DiMenna Center – promises to be intense, as PACS Music Director David Bernard conducts Stravinsky's The Firebird suite and Haydn's Surprise Symphony (two works particularly suited to the "InsideOut" format).

Why is this important to orchestras and their audiences? It's all to do with the experience, says David Bernard, whose brainchild this is: "Movie producers sought to make the viewer's experience more immersive through new technologies that incorporate 3D and large screen IMAX formats.  The reason is clear—to win, or even compete in the game of audience acquisition/retention, you have to be innovative on delivering unforgettable experiences. The result has been a rebirth of the movie-going experience that has successfully staved off competition for consumers' time and dollars—while actually increasing the ticket prices for these enhanced experiences. When thinking about how orchestras can achieve the same kind of success—transforming the audience experience in ways that not only surprise and delight concert goers, but also more solidly monetize the orchestra—I conceived of the "InsideOut" approach."

For more information and tickets, visit

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 (CD review)

Also, The Tempest, Suite No. 2. Petri Sakari, Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.554387.

In order for any performance of a work by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) to reach a level of excellence, it must display equal measures of boreal iciness and dreamy northern vistas. It helps, I suppose, that a Finnish conductor, Petri Sakari, and an Icelandic orchestra play the music on the present Naxos disc.

The cold is probably in their bones, and it's especially evident in the opening movement of the Sixth Symphony, the star of the set. There is an air of chill in the soft winds, leading to a gentle but coolly illuminated second movement, a fairly active scherzo, and a strong finale, wanting only in a touch of mystery.

Petri Sakari
The Seventh Symphony is somewhat different from the Sixth. It is quite brief at little over twenty minutes in length, and while demonstrating the traditional four-movement layout, we usually hear it as a single, uninterrupted unit. Still, the Seventh appears more massive and more substantial than the Sixth, a kind of synthesis, perhaps, of all that the composer had done before it. Sibelius seems to have condensed the essence of his bucolic wintry spirit into the work, and Maestro Sakari understands the importance of keeping the piece together and not letting it flake off into separate icy splinters. He maintains the work's cohesion and conveys its solemnity and triumph quite well.

Three of my comparison discs in these works were from Sir Colin Davis (RCA and Philips) and Sir John Barbirolli (EMI), the latter of whom has long been a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, making comparisons with well-established favorites may come out unfairly biased, so it's maybe no wonder I preferred them. Nevertheless, it is a measure of Sakari's skill that he more than holds his own with the other conductors, if never with quite the same characterful personality to his music-making.

Sound is another matter, and the Naxos engineers have served up a distinctive recording. It is a bit more rounded and more natural than the much older EMI recording, while not so transparent or robust as the RCA (or even the Philips). Still, this 2000 Naxos release has good range, good breadth, and good imaging, although I felt the cellos and first violins sounded a bit too close.

Overall, for its modest price, to get both the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies and a fascinating filler in Sibelius's incidental music to Shakespeare's The Tempest seems a pretty good deal.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Schulhoff: Complete Music for Violin and Piano (CD review)

Bruno Monteiro, violin; Joao Paulo Santos, piano. Brilliant Classics 95324.

First, who is Erwin Schulhoff? According to Wikipedia, "Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) was a Czech composer and pianist. He was one of the figures in the generation of European musicians whose successful careers were prematurely terminated by the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and whose works have been rarely noted or performed. Antonín Dvorak encouraged Schulhoff's earliest musical studies, which began at the Prague Conservatory when he was ten years old. He studied composition and piano there and later in Vienna, Leipzig, and Cologne, where his teachers included Claude Debussy, Max Reger, Fritz Steinbach, and Willi Thern.

"He won the Mendelssohn Prize twice, for piano in 1913 and for composition in 1918. He served on the Russian front in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. He was wounded and was in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp when the war ended. He lived in Germany after the war until returning to Prague in 1923 where he joined the faculty of the conservatory in 1929. He was one of the first generation of classical composers to find inspiration in the rhythms of jazz music. Schulhoff also embraced the avant-garde influence of Dadaism in his performances and compositions after World War I. When organizing concerts of avant-garde music in 1919, he included this manifesto: 'Absolute art is revolution, it requires additional facets for development, leads to overthrow (coups) in order to open new paths...and is the most powerful in music....'" Unfortunately, because of his Jewish heritage, this fine musician and composer died in a Nazi concentration camp.

Second, who are Bruno Monteiro and Joao Paulo Santos? According to his biography, Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro is "heralded by the daily Publico as 'one of Portugal's premier violinists' and by the weekly Expresso as 'one of today's most renowned Portuguese musicians.' Bruno Monteiro is internationally recognized as a distinguished violinist of his generation. Fanfare describes him as having a 'burnished golden tone' and Strad states that his 'generous vibrato produces radiant colors.' Music Web International refers to interpretations that have a 'vitality and an imagination that are looking unequivocally to the future' and that reach an 'almost ideal balance between the expressive and the intellectual.' Gramophone praises his 'unfailing assurance and eloquence' and Strings Magazine summarises that he is 'a young chamber musician of extraordinary sensitivity.'"

Bruno Monteiro
Spanish pianist Joao Paulo Santos is a graduate of the Lisbon National Conservatory, and with a sponsorship from the Gulbenkian Foundation, he completed his piano studies in Paris with Aldo Ciccolini. For the past forty years he has worked with the Teatro Nacional de S. Carlos, the Lisbon Opera House, first as Chief Chorus Conductor and more recently as Director of Musical and Stage Studies. He has also distinguished himself as an opera conductor, concert pianist, and researcher of less-known and forgotten Portuguese composers.

In an earlier review of Monteiro and Santos performing the music of Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca, I said of them that they play "so affectionately, so enchantingly, I look forward to hearing them again." Now, I've gotten that chance, and I am no less impressed.

The program contains four works: one suite for violin and piano, two sonatas for violin and piano, and one sonata for solo violin. The thing you have to remember, though, is that Schulhoff began composing at about the time the modern era of music began, and while he is clearly avant-garde, innovative, and experimental for his day, he also has one foot firmly planted in the melodies and harmonies of the older Romantic generation. So his music is a kind of fascinating amalgam of the old and the new.

Anyway, Monteiro has arranged the order of the program in chronological order, starting with the five-movement suite, dating from 1911. It has a generally positive and happy outlook, with the violinist delighting in its almost-classical demeanor. Monteiro's tone is always clean, golden, and vibrant, qualities he maintains throughout the program. The interior minuet and waltz segments appear most adventurous, yet they never become objectionable in their eccentricities. The final movement ends the piece with something originally titled "Dance of the Little Devils," and it's charming in its impish delights, at least the way Monteiro and Santos play it.

The next three items are more overtly "modern," being somewhat less harmonious or melodic. The first sonata has more starts and stops to it, with more contrasting sections and a more emphatic rhythmic drive. Nevertheless, for all of its oddities it comes over with an appealingly pensive mood under the guidance of Monteiro and Santos.

In the solo violin work Monteiro not only gets to show off his more virtuosic talents, he gets to display his knowledge and feeling for the jazz idioms Schulhoff adopted. Finally, in the second sonata we hear a more dance-like feeling from the composer, probably from his embracing more of the native folk elements of his country. Don't expect Dvorak, but you get the idea. It begins briskly, energetically, followed by a highly expressive slow movement and returning in the final segments to some of the same themes with which the music started. Again, Monteiro and Santos make a splendid team, keeping the drama of the piece moving forward with a pulsating, scintillating enchantment.

Producer Bruno Monteiro and engineer and editor Jose Fortes recorded the album at Igreja da Cartuxa, Caxias, Portugal in April 2016. The church makes an excellent setting for the musicians, the sound taking on a touch of hall resonance without in any way affecting the overall transparency of the instruments. We get clarity and dynamic impact aplenty, plus a realistic separation of players, making the listening both pleasurable and lifelike.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Classical Music News of the Week, December 10, 2016

Park Avenue Armory Announces 2017 Season

Park Avenue Armory announces today its upcoming 2017 season, which will include two new commissions, and world and North American premieres across disciplines in its Wade Thompson Drill Hall and historic interiors. Marking the first full season programmed by Artistic Director Pierre Audi, and the 10th anniversary of the Armory's artistic program, the year features major collaborations with an international roster of artists working in theater, classical, and popular music, visual art, and installation.

Highlights of the season's major productions include The Hairy Ape, Eugene O'Neill's classic expressionist play that reimagines the Old Vic production; the world premiere of Hansel and Gretel, a new commission by Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron that explores the meaning of public space in our surveillance laden-world; Répons by Pierre Boulez, a rarely performed spatial masterpiece experienced from multiple perspectives; Blank Out, a multi-disciplinary chamber opera based on the life and work of Ingrid Jonker by Michael van der Aa; and the world premiere of KANATA, a three-part theater commission by Le Theatre du Soleil and Ex Machina, and directed by Robert Lepage that explores the history of Canada's aboriginal communities. The 2017 season will open with the North American premiere of Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt's large-scale cinematic installation of reinterpreted artistic declarations brought to life by Cate Blanchett.

This season also includes the continuation of its intimate performance programs, including the Recital Series, which presents both rising and celebrated operatic talent in the Belle Époque setting of the Board of Officer's Room, and the Artists Studio series, curated by Jason Moran, which presents contemporary music from across the globe in the revitalized Veterans Room.

For more information, visit

--Stephanie Yeo, Resnicow and Associates

Carl Palmer on the Passing of Greg Lake
It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow band-mate, Greg Lake.  Greg's soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson.  I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together. Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us.  As Greg sang at the end of Pictures At An Exhibition, "death is life." His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him. --Greg Lake, December 8, 2016

--Bruce Pilato

KODO: Taiko Percussion Ensemble Announce 22 City U.S. Tour
Kodo--the world's foremost professional taiko company who have played a singular role in popularizing modern taiko drumming--will present their program DADAN in North America for the first time, visiting 22 U.S. cities between January and March 2017.

Forging new directions for the traditional Japanese drum, Kodo will bring a display of their raw athleticism and rhythmic mastery back to the U.S. with this cutting-edge and ever-evolving production featuring the men of Kodo in a bold portrayal of the essence of drumming through this vibrant living art form. The 2017 tour highlights include stops at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Chicago's Symphony Center, the Smith Center in Las Vegas, and BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in New York City.

For complete information, visit

--Liza Prijatel Thors, Rebecca Davis PR

Watch Two New Videos about American Bach Soloists' Messiah in Grace Cathedral
Jeffrey Thomas conducts the period-instrument specialists of ABS, the renowned American Bach Choir, and a quartet of brilliant vocal soloists in Handel's beloved masterpiece in one of San Francisco's most awe-inspiring, sacred spaces. ABS, Handel, and Grace Cathedral are perennially a winning combination and a highlight of the holiday season. A beloved Bay Area tradition now in its 18th consecutive year, ABS's performances of Handel's timeless work attract music lovers from around the world.

Wednesday, December 14 2016 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 15 2016 7:30 pm
Friday, December 16 2016 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

"The 1753 Foundling Hospital Version of Handel's Messiah" - Jeffrey Thomas:

"Welcome to Grace Cathedral" - The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus:

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba--Live From Lincoln Center with Dave Matthews Dec. 16
"Live From Lincoln Center" presents Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell in a performance with the Chamber Orchestra of Havana and some of Cuba's most renowned artists, as well as special guest Dave Matthews. This marks the U.S. debut of the Chamber Orchestra of Havana, conducted by Daiana García. Live From Lincoln Center's "Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba" airs nationally as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival on Friday, December 16, 2016 (check local listings).

--Jane Covner, Jag PR

New England Conservatory Alumni and Faculty on the 59th Annual Grammy Nomination List
New England Conservatory alumni and faculty were included in nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, announced yesterday. The Grammy Awards ceremony, on which winners will be revealed, will be televised live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, February 12, 8pm EST, on CBS. Final-round ballots will be mailed to voting members of The Recording Academy on December 14, and are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte for tabulating by January 13, 2017.

The album Undercurrent by singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz '13 is recognized with nominations for Best American Roots Performance (track "House of Mercy") and Best Folk Album, which accrue to the performers; the album also received a nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Jarosz has previously been nominated for Build Me Up from Bones (2013) and a track from her debut album, Song Up in Her Head (2009).

Moving to the classical categories, an orchestra with deep ties to NEC appears among the nominations, after having previously been nominated for a Grammy award for another release in the nominated project. More than half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's players are NEC faculty and/or alumni. The BSO and music director Andris Nelsons are nominated for Best Orchestra Performance with Shostakovich: Under Stalin's Shadow-Symphonies Nos. 5, 8 & 9. This follows up on last year's nominated release of Symphony No. 10 in a series of live recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.

Among the nominees for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, Third Coast Percussion is nominated for its Steve Reich recording. This quartet of percussionists includes Robert Dillon '04 M.M., who was a member of the NEC Percussion Ensemble during the recording of its Naxos CD American Music for Percussion, Vol. 1.

Marta Aznavoorian '96 M.M. is pianist of the Lincoln Trio, nominated for Trios from Our Homelands. In reference to the recording's theme, Aznavoorian's Armenian heritage is represented by composer Arno Babajanian.

For more information, visit

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Celesta PR

International Contemporary Ensemble Featured in PROTOTYPE Festival
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is featured in two events as part of the fifth annual PROTOTYPE festival — the New York City premiere of David Lang and Mark Dion's theatrical work anatomy theater, and the Silent Voices concert.

Inspired by actual medical texts from the 17th and 18th century, anatomy theater follows the progression of a convicted murderess from her confession to execution, to denouncement, and finally to dissection. Peabody Southwell (Sarah Osborne), Marc Kudisch (Joshua Crouch), Robert Osborne (Baron Peel), and Timura (Ambrose Strang) are featured together with the International Contemporary Ensemble in seven performances on January 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 at 8:00 p.m. at the BRIC House Ballroom, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

On January 14 and 15 at 5:00 p.m. at the Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), ICE and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus are featured in Silent Voices, a multimedia, multi-composer stage work conceived by BYC Founding Artistic Director Dianne Berkun Menaker, and commissioned and produced by the Chorus. The project harnesses the power of young people to be instruments of change, giving voice to those silenced or marginalized by social, cultural or religious circumstances and features music by Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal, Rhiannon Giddens, Alicia Hall Moran, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Nico Muhly, Toshi Reagon, Ellen Reid, Kamala Sankaram, Caroline Shaw and Paul Miller/DJ Spooky and texts by Hilton Als, Michelle Alexander, Samad Behrangi, and Pauli Murray.

Tickets: Priced at $30, can be purchased from the Prototype Festival website at

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov Suite (CD review)

Also, The Legend of the Invisible City Suite; Fairy Tale; Fantasia on Serbian Themes. Igor Golovchin, Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.553513.

The music for The Maid of Pskov is incidental to the play on which Rimsky-Korsakov based his troubled opera (1872). The suite, frankly, left me a little bored. Perhaps I was expecting Scheherazade or the Russian Easter Festival Overture. In any event, most of the five movements are Entr'actes, meant to set various scenes rather than elaborate upon them. Maestro Igor Golovchin and the Moscow Symphony players do the best they can with it, I'm sure, the orchestra sounding finely polished.

The second work, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, from 1903, is much more evocative and has an especially elaborate and fanciful finale that is, in fact, reminiscent of the composer's earlier Scheherazade. Here, however, Golovchin seems a little understated when more color might have helped.

Igor Golovchin
Probably the best piece on the disc, though, is Fairy Tale (1880), a brief, thirteen-minute tone poem for which Rimsky-Korsakov felt forced to suggest a few guidelines to listeners, suggestions like the sounds of the forest, the call of a mythical bird, a water nymph, and the famous witch, Baba Yaga. It holds up pretty well under Golovchin's still somewhat conservative approach.

The program concludes with another short work, the eight-minute Fantasia on Serbian Themes (1887), which again seems better focused and more impressionistic than the Maid music. My only concern in the performance was for conductor Igor Golovchin's rather measured, somewhat foursquare interpretations. I was hoping he would let loose with some real Russian zeal, at least in the closing moments of the piece, but it was not to be.

The sound the Naxos engineers provide for the Moscow Symphony is typically firm and solid for the company. It's a bit warm and soft and doesn't have much sparkle, but it does come across as rock steady, clean, and sturdy. Stereo spread appears quite wide, depth is moderate, dynamics are fine, and bass, particularly from a prominent bass drum, shows up firm and deep. No real complaints here.

With an ample seventy-two minutes of music, the Naxos label again provides one's money's worth in terms of material offered. And at the very least the little Fairy Tale is worth one's time.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Antal Dorati Conducts Albeniz, Kodaly & Prokofiev (CD review)

Antal Dorati, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra. HDTT remastered.

If you're an audiophile, I don't need to tell you that a lot of folks have prized the mid 1950's to early 1960's recordings from RCA "Living Stereo" and Mercury "Living Presence" as collector's items. So it's always a pleasure to hear another of the latter recordings from this era remastered by HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers), this time with Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony from 1956-57 and the London Symphony from 1957.

First up are five of the twelve piano "impressions" from Iberia by Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albeniz (1860–1909), orchestrated by E. Fernandez Arbos. Color and atmosphere fill the music, and those are things Hungarian-born conductor Dorati (1906-1988) did exceptionally well. This is important because Arbos's orchestration is lush and varied, and Dorati does it justice throughout all the sections.

Next is the Hary Janos Suite by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly (1882–1967). Kodaly extracted the orchestral suite from his comic opera of the same name, which he prefaced saying, "Hary is a peasant, a veteran soldier who day after day sits at the tavern spinning yarns about his heroic exploits. The stories released by his imagination are an inextricable mixture of realism and naivety, of comic humour and pathos." The music begins with an orchestral "sneeze," and from there it gets even more picturesque as it goes along. Dorati gives the piece a fine combination of vigor and excitement, and the Minneapolis players provide him all the zip and polish the work needs.

Antal Dorati
The final item on the program is the six-movement concert suite from the comic opera The Love of Three Oranges by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953). If anything, this work is more outwardly exciting than the others, and again Dorati is up the challenge. What's more, the LSO play with all the zeal the music needs, so we get another triumph from the conductor and orchestra.

If I had to find any fault in the album (which I don't have to but will anyway, because, you know, it's what critics do), it's that the there are only three track points, one for each major item. I would have liked track points for each selection within each suite. Oh, well, a minor quibble.

Producer Wilma Cozart (Fine), editor Harold Lawrence, and engineer C. R. Fine recorded the Kodaly at the Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota in November 1956; the Albeniz in April 1957; and the Prokofiev at Watford Town Hall, London, England in July 1957. HDTT transferred the recordings from Mercury two-track tapes.

The recordings from Minneapolis are as vivid as they can be. Highs seem a trifle hard and sharp at times, but, otherwise, the sound is as spectacular as a listener could want. I remember owning these recordings on vinyl many years ago, but I don't remember them sounding as good as they do here. The frequency and dynamic ranges are very wide, with strong impact all through the spectrum and as quick a transient response as you'll find. The midrange sounds beautifully balanced and transparent. The stereo spread is wide without being too close up. The London recording is similarly clear and dynamic, but it adds a touch more roundness and resonance from Watford Town Hall, making it even more lifelike. Really fine listening.

For further information on HDTT products, prices, discs, and downloads in a variety of formats, you can visit their Web site at


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:

Classical Music News of the Week, December 3, 2016

Gustavo Dudamel to Make Florida Debut as Part of Artis-Naples 2017-18 Visiting Orchestras Series

Artis-Naples' CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen announced the organization's 2017-18 Visiting Orchestras series, which includes the Florida debut of renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who leads the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in the final year of its Naples residency on February 27 and 28, 2018.

Dudamel is music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, the national orchestra of his home country of Venezuela. The 35-year-old conductor has quickly become one of the world's most lauded and famous classical musicians since bursting onto the world stage at 18. Since then, he has gone on to conduct most of the leading orchestras in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and La Scala. This year, he will be the youngest conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert.

"Each year, we hope to bring the world's best orchestras to Naples," van Bergen said. "It is difficult to imagine presenting a pair of more exciting, vibrant and talented set of ensembles to our audiences. They represent the pinnacle of the classical music world, both in the United States and Europe."

For more information, visit

--Jonathan Foerster, Communications Director

Avner Dorman Explores the Link Between Wagner and Hitler in New Opera Wahnfried
In the annals of the Wagner family, the name Houston Stewart Chamberlain is but a footnote. Yet, argues Avner Dorman's new opera Wahnfried, he was in some ways the link between Richard Wagner and Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain was a failing English scientist who became obsessed with Wagner's music, after the composer's death marrying Wagner's daughter Eva and moving to Bayreuth. There he stayed close to his adopted family and, eventually, to Adolf Hitler, whom he hugely admired. Hitler for his part saw Chamberlain as a mentor and was highly influenced by his magnum opus, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century - which codified Aryan supremacy and systemic anti-Semitism. Hitler so admired the older man that he often quoted him, and made the journey to Bayreuth for his funeral.

Wahnfried, scored by the much-in-demand Israeli-American composer Dorman, with a libretto by Lutz Hübner and Sarah Nemitz, two of the most admired German playwrights of our day, presents the story of Chamberlain at Bayreuth. It's a satirical study of a man who thought himself the living embodiment of a Wagnerian hero, only to realize (as he is tormented by the mocking "Wagner demon") that he could never aspire to true greatness. And yet, as so often, mediocrity was no bar to the poison he was able to spread...

Keith Warner directs this world premiere production, which has been commissioned by the Karlsruhe Staatstheater to complement their new production of Wagner's Ring cycle. The opera house's Music Director, Justin Brown, conducts a cast that includes Matthias Wohlbrecht as Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Christina Niessen as Cosima Wagner, Andrew Watts / Eric Jurenas as Siegfried Wagner and Barbara Dobrzanska as Anna Chamberlain. The opera will run in repertoire until 12th May.

The opera plays on the following dates: 28th January 2017, 2nd and 16th February, 19th March, 12th and 24th April and 12th May. More details can be found at

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Los Angeles Master Chorale to Perform Beethoven's Missa solemnis Jan 21 & 22
The Los Angeles Master Chorale will present its first performances of Beethoven's powerful Missa solemnis in 13 years on its own concert series on Saturday, January 21 at 2 PM and Sunday, January 22 at 7 PM at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Heralded as a pillar of the choral and orchestral repertoire, the work is considered a specialty of the Master Chorale that last performed the work with Artistic Director Grant Gershon in Disney Hall in 2004.

Although Beethoven is believed to have called Missa solemnis ("Solemn Mass") his greatest work, the piece is not frequently performed owing to the large number of resources it requires including a full choir, large orchestra, and four soloists. It is also exceptionally technically challenging.

"The Missa Solemnis is like an epic journey up the river of Beethoven's tormented psyche as he struggles to find faith at the end of his life," says Gershon. "There is no chorus on the planet that sings this transcendently challenging music with more visceral power and breathtaking beauty than the Los Angeles Master Chorale. If you love Beethoven, you cannot miss this!"

Tickets to all concerts are available now, starting from $29.
Phone: 213-972-7282

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

Celebrate the Winter Season with Young People's Chorus of NYC
"Ring in The New: A Festive Winter Concert"
Sunday, December 11, 2 P.M. & 5:30 P.M.
92nd Street Y, New York City
An exciting annual celebration of holiday music and traditions representing the many ways New York City families commemorate the season.  YPC's award-winning choristers will perform a program of holiday favorites, international gems, and some very special surprises in a fun-filled concert for the whole family.

"A City Singing at Christmas"
Featuring Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC), St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir, Queens College Choir, The Cathedral Organ, and New York Symphonic Brass
St. Patrick's Cathedral
1395 Lexington Avenue, NYC
Thursday, December 15, 7 p.m.

A Holiday Reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas"
Performance by YPC Washington Heights Community Chorus, among other guests
The Church of the Intercession
550 West 155th Street, NYC
Sunday, December 18, 3 p.m.

For complete information, visit

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

January 2017 Concerts at 92nd Street Y
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 8:30PM
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Asi Matathias, violin
Victor Stanislavsky, piano

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 7:30PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Pacifica Quartet
Jörg Widmann, clarinet

Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3:00PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

Tickets and information are available at or 212-415-5500.

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Yoshiki at Carnegie Hall: Jan 12 and 13
Yoshiki, songwriter, drummer/percussionist, classically-trained pianist and the creative force of the rock group X JAPAN, announced a special concert event: "Yoshiki Classical Special featuring Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra." The classical concerts will take place on January 12 and 13, 2017 at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium.

For the Carnegie Hall concert, Yoshiki will perform his original compositions alongside the world-renowned Tokyo Philharmonic as well as several works from the traditional Classical repertoire. This New York concert follows Classical performances also taking place in Japan and Hong Kong.

"I began taking piano lessons and music theory at age four, and became interested in classical works by Beethoven and Schubert," explains Yoshiki.  "In elementary school, I played the trumpet in the brass band, and around age ten started composing songs for piano. I've been writing classical music ever since. Needless to say, classical music has been a major influence in my musical career."

Yoshiki Classical Special featuring Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra:
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, NYC
Thursday January 12 and Friday, January 13 at 7:30 pm

Tickets from $40 to $105 available by calling 212-247-7800, at the Carnegie Hall Box Office (57th Street & 7th Avenue), or at

--Shira Gilbert PR

New England Conservatory Announces Winners of 2016 Entrepreneurial Muscianship Grants
The New England Conservatory Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department (EM) announces the winners of the Fall 2016 round of Project Grants. Following a highly competitive written application and Shark Tank-style pitch, seven students were awarded the EM Project Grant, which provides modest seed funding and access to a cohort of advisors to support them along the way.

Morgan Middleton
"Remember When"

Amanda Ekery
"The Lomax Folk Project"

Andrew Steinberg
"The Megalopolis Saxophone Orchestra"

Rayna Yun Chou
"Music, Distance, and One Minute of Just Us"

Lauren Parks
"Musical Storybooks"

Julian Loida & Sofia Kriger
"Mojubá: Bringing CUBA to the Community"

For more information, visit

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

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 both its equipment and recordings 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 they 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 Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, 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

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