Classical Music News of the Week, January 9, 2016

Gargoyle Ensemble to Feature Music from "Peter Grimes" Feb. 21, March 4 & 6

The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble will give the world premiere of a new arrangement of Benjamin Britten's evocative "Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia" from his dramatic opera Peter Grimes at concerts at 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St, Oak Park, Ill.; 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 256 Chicago St., Elgin; and 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 310 S. Wheaton Ave., Wheaton, Il.

Admission to the Elgin and Wheaton concerts is free to the general public. Tickets to the Oak Park performance can be purchased through the ensemble's website, gargoylebrass.com.

The arrangement, commissioned by the professional chamber ensemble and written by Craig Garner, is based on Britten's own, widely performed orchestral version of the same music, which mirrors the plot and setting of a tragic story that unfolds in an English seacoast village.

The Gargoyle's nautical-themed concert program, titled Seascapes: Music from Britten's Peter Grimes, will include the world premiere of another newly commissioned arrangement: Garner's "Suite from Water Music," based on G. F. Handel's popular baroque masterpiece.

"Listeners will experience a deluge of water-themed delights," says Rodney Holmes, artistic director of Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble.

In addition, the program will offer Claude Debussy's French impressionist "La cathédrale engloutie" (The Sunken Cathedral), written for and performed on solo piano; and the "Russian Sailor's Dance" from Reinhold Glière's ballet "The Red Poppy."

Concertgoers will also hear Britten's "Fanfare for St. Edmondsbury," Vaughn Williams' "Two Preludes for Organ" ("Bryn Calfaria" and "Rhosymedre"), and Michael Burkhardt's organ and brass arrangement of the hymn "You Call Us, Lord, to Be," based on a Welsh folk tune.

Tickets and Information:
Single tickets for the February 21 concert in Oak Park are $15 adult general admission and $10 for students. Tickets are available at garoylebrass.com or by calling 800-838-3006. No tickets are required for the March performances in Elgin and Wheaton, which are free to the general public.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Pierre Boulez, Composer and Conductor Who Pushed Modernism's Boundaries, Dies at 90
Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor who was a dominant figure in classical music for over half a century, died on Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his family in a statement to the Philharmonie de Paris. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, also in a statement, said, "Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world."

Mr. Boulez belonged to an extraordinary generation of European composers who, while still in their 20s, came to the forefront during the decade or so after World War II. They wanted to change music radically, and Mr. Boulez took a leading role. His "Marteau Sans Maître" ("Hammer Without a Master") was one of this group's first major achievements, and it remains a central work of modern music.

Mr. Boulez came to give more attention to conducting, where his keen ear and rhythmic incisiveness would often produce a startling clarity. (There are countless stories of him detecting, for example, faulty intonation from the third oboe in a complex orchestral texture.)

He reached his peak as a conductor in the 1960s, when he began to appear with some of the world's great orchestras, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. His style was unique. He never used the baton, but manipulated the orchestra by means of his two hands simultaneously, the left indicating phrasing or, in much contemporary music, counterrhythm.

The tasks he took on were heroic: to continue the great adventure of musical modernism, and to carry with him the great musical institutions and the widest possible audience.

For more information, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/arts/music/pierre-boulez-french-composer-dies-90.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

-- Paul Griffiths, New York Times

Mirror Visions Ensemble Performs at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, January 30
The Mirror Visions Ensemble, comprised of soprano Vira Slywotzky, tenor Scott Murphree, and baritone Jesse Blumberg together with pianist Grant Wenaus, will perform Flights of Fantasy on Saturday, January 23 at 5:00 p.m. at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library in Hillsdale New York, on Sunday, January 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Druker Auditorium at the Newton Free Library, and on Saturday, January 30 at 2:30 p.m. at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The program explores themes of deities, nymphs, enchanted forests, beasts, and charms through works by composers such as Debussy, Gershwin, Mendelssohn, and Schubert, as well as a premiere by Gilda Lyons and a Mirror Visions commission by Russell Platt. Tickets for each performance are free and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit http://www.mirrorvisions.org/

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

National Philharmonic Concertmaster Colin Sorgi Performs Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 at Strathmore
The National Philharmonic, led by Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, will feature concertmaster Colin Sorgi in a performance of Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major on Saturday, January 16 at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. A free pre-concert lecture will be offered in the Concert Hall at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets start at $29 and are free for children ages 7-17 FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets must be reserved by calling (301-581-5100) or visiting the Strathmore Box Office. Parking is complimentary.

Mozart's inventive and virtuosic Divertimento in D Major opens this concert. The Divertimento is one of three written in Salzburg during the winter of 1772, after Mozart had returned from a trip to Italy. The Italian influence is certainly present in this work, as it uses the three-movement structure then popular in Italian symphonies.

Next, National Philharmonic concertmaster Colin Sorgi takes the stage as the featured soloist in Bach's brilliant Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra No. 2 in E Major. The Bach is followed by the Holberg Suite by Norway's greatest composer, Edvard Grieg, which is based on 18th-century dances for string orchestra. The concert ends with the Simple Symphony for Strings, Op. 4, the work of 20th-century British composer Benjamin Britten, who uses material he wrote as a young teenager and displays the influence of neo-classical music on the precocious composer.

Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301-581-5100.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Kahane/Swensen/Brey Trio and More Coming to Weill Hall
Three young musicians joined forces more than 25 years ago to play chamber music. All moved on to illustrious careers: Jeffrey Kahane as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and world famous pianist, Joseph Swenson as Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Carter Brey as Principal Cellist for the New York Philharmonic. Now reunited, they wow audiences with their impassioned interpretations of chamber literature. Sat, Jan 16 at 7:30 pm | Weill Hall, Sonoma State University. MasterCard Performance Series.

Marc-Andre Hamelin:
Fresh from from his recital at New York's Carnegie Hall Marc André Hamelin makes his Weill Hall debut. This Canadian pianist and composer is known as a fearless technician whose "ferocious fingers" easily conquer works that would leave lesser pianists in a cold sweat. This program showcases Hamelin's range both as a composer and as a thoughtful interpreter of more nuanced works. Fri, Jan 22 at 7:30 pm | Weill Hall. MasterCard Performance Series

Nicholas Phan, tenor; Myra Huang, piano:
NPR calls this sweet-voiced lyric tenor, "an artist who must  be heard." He teams up with Myra Huang, a pianist who Opera News hails as "among the top accompanists of her generation." Sun, Jan 17 at 3 pm | Schroeder Hall.

Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band and Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra:
These two legends of Latin music  continue to thrill audiences. Ten-time  Grammy Award-winning pianist and bandleader Eddie Palmieri is the acknowledged inventor of the salsa sound. Opening the show is master stickman Pete Escovedo who, like Palmieri, has spent decades fusing Latin, jazz, soul and funk into a new sound world. Two shows. One amazing night. Sat, Jan 23 at 7:30 p.m. | Weill Hall. MasterCard Performance Series.

Robert Huw Morgan:
Robert Huw Morgan is the University Organist at Stanford University, a  position he has held since 1999. A native of Wales, he received his BA  and MA from Cambridge University and in 1989 became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Sun, Jan 31 at 3 pm | Schroeder Hall.

For more information, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/

--Green Music Center, Sonoma State University

Mitsuko Uchida Becomes Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra
It is with great pleasure that we announce to you today that from 2016, Mitsuko Uchida will join the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as one of our Artistic Partners. In their own individual ways, our Artistic Partners inspire and shape the orchestra over multi-year, large-scale projects. With Mitsuko Uchida, one of the greatest Mozart interpreters of our time, we shall in particular be exploring Mozart's piano concertos, which Mitsuko Uchida will lead from the keyboard.

We warmly invite you to join us on this journey over the coming years; in January alone, you have the opportunity to do so in four different countries.

For more information the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, visit http://www.mahlerchamber.com/

--Mahler Chamber Orchestra

FWOpera Brings JFK to the Big Screen with The Making of An Opera Video Release Event
Fort Worth Opera will premiere the third installment of The Making of An Opera -- a multi-part documentary series detailing the creation of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's world premiere opera JFK -- in a special, free evening of film, games, prizes, and cocktails. The video release party is open to the public and FWOpera invites opera, film, and music lovers to experience JFK on the big screen as we view the first two installments, The Discovery and The Libretto, before unveiling the newest video, The Music. Complimentary food from On the Border will be provided and a cash bar will be available for guests.

Tickets for this event are free, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. Reserve your seat registering at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-making-of-an-opera-release-party-tickets-19952250719. JFK premieres on Saturday, April 23, 2016 as the headlining opera of the 2016 FWOpera Festival.        

Thursday, January 14, 2016 | 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Shipping & Receiving Bar – The Tilt Room (201 S. Calhoun Street, Fort Worth, TX 76104)

--Holland Sanders, Meltwater Press

Bach Favorites! January 22-25
Two Sensational Cantatas by Bach: "Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!" and "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," with performances by the 2016 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient, Tatiana Chulochnikova.

Bach: Violin Concerto in E Major
Bach: Toccata & Fugue in D Minor for Violin

Mary Wilson soprano - Jay Carter countertenor - Derek Chester tenor - Mischa Bouvier baritone
Tatiana Chulochnikova violin - Jeffrey Thomas conductor

Friday January 22 2016 8:00 pm - St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday January 23 2016 8:00 pm - First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday January 24 2016 4:00 pm - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday January 25 2016 7:00 pm - Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For more information, visit americanbach.org

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

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

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa