Classical Music News of the Week, March 12, 2016

Discovery of a Pleyel Grand Piano Played by Chopin

A sensational discovery in the classical music field. A grand piano that actually sat in Frederic Chopin's living room in Paris was discovered after a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation by Alain Kohler, a Swiss physicist. "To make music on a piano of such luminous sound is to enter into the very intimacy of this prince of melancholy," said Mr Kohler. The piano had been restored by Edwin Beunk & Johan Wennink in the Netherlands in 2009. Presently it is privately owned in Germany. This discovery has been confirmed by an expert.

Chopin piano expert Alain Kohler, a great admirer of Chopin, has made a truly thorough investigation. Through an accurate and contextual analysis of Pleyel's ledgers of all the grand pianos Pleyel had put at Chopin's disposal in his home between 1839 and 1847, he found with certainty several applicable serial numbers. Among those, the Pleyel grand piano no. 11265 caught his attention because he remembered that this piano had been put on the market by Edwin Beunk.

It was a surprise and a delight for Mr Beunk when he learned that the piano that he had so painstakingly restored was a piano played by Chopin. Although he obviously regretted having sold it, he was happy that is was to a good friend.

Last year's discovery has been confirmed by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Emeritus Professor of Musicology at the University of Geneva and one of the foremost Chopin scholars.

For more information, read


Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Conductor and Early-Music Specialist, Dies at 86
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a pioneering and influential early-music specialist and respected mainstream maestro, died on Saturday in the village of St. Georgen im Attergau, east of Salzburg, Austria. He was 86. His death was announced by his wife, Alice, on his Web site.

Mr. Harnoncourt, a cellist, founded the period-instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien — with his wife as concertmaster — in 1953, and it remained crucial to his performance activities even as orchestral conducting came to dominate. He announced his retirement from performance last December, citing inadequate "bodily strength."

"I hate specialists," Mr. Harnoncourt said in 1996 in an interview at his home in the Austrian Alps near Salzburg, where he had amassed a valuable collection of musical instruments.

Call him a specialist or not, and not to deny his multifarious other activities, he researched, performed and recorded early music encyclopedically. In the 1970s and '80s he and the Concentus took part in a complete recording of the nearly 200 surviving Bach sacred cantatas for the Teldec label, sharing the performances with the Dutch harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and his Leonhardt Consort.

For more information, visit

--James R. Oestreich, New York Times

Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer Keyboardist, Dead at 71
"Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come," Carl Palmer says of ELP bandmate.

Keith Emerson, founding member and keyboardist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and a prog rock legend, died Friday. He was 71. While the cause of death was not announced, both his bandmate Carl Palmer and the trio's official Facebook confirmed Emerson's death. "We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family's privacy and grief be respected," the band wrote.

For more information, visit

--Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone

Stewart Copeland & Jon Kimura Parker "Off the Score" at Pace University 4/8
"Off the Score" is a sizzling performance collaboration between drum legend Stewart Copeland (The Police), visionary pianist Jon Kimura Parker, Met Opera violinist Yoon Kwon, rising star bassist Marlon Martinez and champion of the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI) Judd Miller. New works by Copeland and Parker collide with renditions of Stravinsky, Ravel, Piazzolla and Aphex Twin for an inspiring look at a musical universe that shines beyond genre. Friday, April 8, 2016 at 7:30pm at the Schimmel Center.

On the genre-smashing program "Off the Score," founder and drummer of The Police, Stewart Copeland, teams up with another musical iconoclast, the concert pianist Jon Kimura "Jackie" Parker. Together they perform original works and amp up some of the great pieces from the classical canon including Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Ravel's Piano Concerto in G and Piazzolla's Oblivion. Add in jazz pianist Mike Garson's Paganini Variations and a wild arrangement of an Aphex Twin tune and the annihilation of genre is complete!

Copeland, Parker & Company perform at Pace University's Schimmel Center (New York City campus in lower Manhattan, facing City Hall) on Friday, April 8 at 7:30pm. Ticket prices range from $39-$65; visit or call 212-346-1715 to purchase tickets.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

NYOA Presents the Inaugural New York Opera Fest, May-June 2016
The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA), a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, is proud to present the inaugural New York Opera Fest ( May-June, 2016, with over 20 New York City-based companies putting on events in venues ranging from bars to playgrounds to traditional theaters. In addition to performances, the festival will showcase behind-the-scenes events where the public can attend open rehearsals, forums, showcases, and masterclasses featuring some of opera's brightest emerging talents.

Performances will include:
On Site Opera presents the North American premiere of Marcos Portugal's The Marriage of Figaro in the stunning townhouse, 632 on Hudson.
Opera on Tap takes a break from the bars to help Harlem's PS 129 students present an opera on their school playground.
Bronx Opera presents an English-language production of Rossini's beloved Cinderella at Lehman College's Lovinger Theatre.
Rhymes with Opera premieres composer Ruby Fulton and librettist Baynard Woods Adam's Run, a dark comedy set in a dystopic future world.
Operamission performs Handel's first Italian opera Rinaldo on period instruments.
Hunter Opera Theater offers an evening of "Pocket Operas"--short, newly–composed chamber works.

For more info, full schedule and tickets, visit:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2016 Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in cooperation with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the third Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) Readings in 2016. Three orchestras – the Naples Philharmonic (May 25 & 26), American Composers Orchestra (June 15 & 16), and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (September 20 & 21) – will workshop, rehearse, and give public readings of new works for symphony orchestra written by sixteen jazz composers.

Six jazz composers selected for readings, workshops, and performances of new works by three Orchestras in 2016.

Naples Philharmonic
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2pm (working rehearsal) & Thursday, May 26 at 7pm (run-through)
Artis-Naples Hayes Hall, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, FL
Admission: Free and open to the public

American Composers Orchestra
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 2:30pm (working rehearsal)  & Thursday, June 16 at 7:30 pm
Columbia University's Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, NYC
Admission: Free and open to the public, reservations suggested

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 & Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7pm (run-through)
Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY
Admission: Evening run-through is free and open to the public

Read the Wall Street Journal feature:

--Christina Jensen, ACO

Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass at Strathmore
Hear the genius of Haydn as the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale perform his famous Lord Nelson Mass on Saturday, April 2 at 8pm at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD  20852).

Led by Artistic Director Stan Engebretson, the concert will feature the National Philharmonic's nearly 200 voice all-volunteer chorale, as well as soloists Danielle Talamantes (soprano); Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano); Robert Baker (tenor); and Kevin Deas (baritone).

Missa in Angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times) "is arguably Haydn's greatest single composition,"  says biographer  H. C. Robbins Landon. Austria was in complete chaos the year (1798) Haydn wrote the mass. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year and had invaded Egypt to destroy Britain's trade routes to the East. The name Haydn gave this mass--Missa in Angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times)--reflected the turmoil in Austria. However, unbeknownst to the composer, that summer Napoleon had suffered a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this coincidence, the mass acquired the nickname Lord Nelson Mass.

Also on the program is Maurice Duruflé's Requiem, which has been recognized as a masterpiece for more than half a century. This gentle and meditative work combines medieval melody and modern orchestration by giving the eloquent Gregorian chant prominence throughout.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, April 2 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's Lord Nelson Mass on April 2, please visit or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets start from $29. Kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

For more information, visit

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Cash Prizes Doubled for Oberlin's 2016 Cooper Piano Competition
The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition returns to Oberlin College and Conservatory for its seventh year in July—and it now awards the highest-valued first prize of any competition for its age group.

Beginning this year, the piano competition's cash prize package will be doubled to $40,000, including a $20,000 first prize.

The 2016 Cooper Competition begins Saturday, July 15, with five days of public performances presented by 25 to 35 pianists on the beautiful Oberlin campus. The excitement culminates on Friday, July 22, as three finalists perform complete concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland. The winner takes home the $20,000 first prize, with $10,000 and $5,000 awarded for second and third place, respectively. Each finalist's prize package also includes a full four-year tuition scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

For more information, visit

--Erich Burnett, Oberlin Conservatory

Ariana Kim Releases Video of Augusta Read Thomas's Incantation
Violinist Ariana Kim has released a new video today for International Women's Day, featuring a performance of Augusta Read Thomas' heartbreaking solo violin work Incantation. The piece was written as an homage to a Thomas' friend Catherine Tait, a violinist who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tait premiered the work weeks before her untimely death at age 44.

Kim has also recorded the piece for her debut album Routes of Evanescence, a recording which features the music of modern American women composers including Thomas, JenniferCurtis, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Tonia Ko.

In addition to her work in Brooklyn-based orchestra collective The Knights and critically-lauded new music ensemble Ne(x)tworks, Ariana has also recently joined the acclaimed all-female Aizuri Quartet, in-residence at the Curtis Institute.

To view the video, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Boychoir Performs for One Night Only in NYC, 4/6 at the Church of St. Thomas More
The American Boychoir, the celebrated vocal ensemble of the Princeton, NJ-based American Boychoir School, has been heralded as one of the nation's premier musical ensembles. Its mission is to sustain and advance the one-thousand-year-old boychoir school tradition. The American Boychoir brings its distinctly American voice to the Church of St. Thomas More (65 E. 89th Street) in New York, NY on April 6, 2016 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $30 general admission, $20 for students and seniors, and $45 for premium seating; visit for more details. Tickets are available at

The program, "How Can I Keep From Singing?", showcases the versatility of the American Boychoir, with selections ranging from Mendelssohn and Samuel Barber to folksongs from around the world to traditional American hymns and spirituals. The title of the program comes from James Q. Mulholland's "How Can I Keep From Singing," whose lyrics perfectly embody the American Boychoir's belief in the power of music.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

Celebrate Bach's Birthday with ABS
Friday March 18 2016 8:00 pm - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Jonathan Dimmock, organist

Internationally acclaimed organ recitalist, Jonathan Dimmock, is currently the organist for the San Francisco Symphony and Principal Organist at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He holds the unique distinction of having been the only American Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey and is one of the few organists in the world to tour on six continents. He is founding director of Artists' Vocal Ensemble (AVE), co-founder of American Bach Soloists, and founding president of Resonance, an organization that uses music in international conflict resolution. To celebrate Bach's birthday, Mr. Dimmock has created an all-Bach program that celebrates the master's genius as composer for "the king of instruments," performing on one of the Bay Area's most treasured tracker organs. Favorite gems and a few lesser known yet brilliant works will add up to a sensational special event.

For more information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Classic Chocolate Survey Update
For those of you unaware (or uninterested), the "Survey of Dark Chocolate" gets updated quite frequently, or at least as frequently as I can get hold of a different and exciting new chocolate bar to sample. The most-recent update contains a few words on the latest Amedei, Cailler, Neuhaus, Philip Marks, Cocoa Parlor, Equal Exchange, Pacari, and Dick Taylor products, among others. You can always find the survey in the left-hand column here at Classical Candor, or you can use the following link:


If you haven't noticed, I've started using a different media player for the audio clips at the end of reviews. Unlike the old player, this new one should work in all Android devices, smartphones, and Apple products as well as Windows PC's. Let me know if you encounter any problems.


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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big 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 its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, 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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa