Classical Music News of the Week, March 26, 2016

ABS Summer Festival & Academy

Tickets for the 7th annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy—San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival—are now on sale. The 2016 Festival will include performances at St. Mark's Lutheran Church and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA, from August 5-14, 2016. Titled "An Italian Journey," many of the concerts and lectures during the two-week event will explore the music and culture of Baroque Italy, a primary destination for eighteenth-century Europeans on The Grand Tour. Along with surveys of sacred and secular works from many of the finest composers who worked in Florence, Venice, and Rome during the era, the ABS Festival & Academy will present the North American premiere performances of Handel's 1734 Serenata, Parnasso in festa, and also Bach's monumental Mass in B Minor.

Opening Night: Carmelite Vespers & Vivaldi's Gloria - August 5

ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas conducts the period-instrument experts of ABS and the American Bach Choir in large-scale sacred works from Baroque Italy. By command of the Church, opera was forbidden when George Frideric Handel arrived in Rome in 1707. Undeterred, the young visitor from Hamburg composed elaborate and highly dramatic works for Roman Carmelite Vespers services including his tour-de-force Dixit Dominus for chorus, orchestra, and vocal soloists, and several motets including Saeviat tellus inter rigores, a setting for virtuoso soprano. Meanwhile, in Venice, Vivaldi was establishing his own lofty standards for church music at the Ospedale della Pietà. Writing for an ensemble of young female virtuoso instrumentalists and singers, his Salve Regina and Gloria are models of the Italian style with a balance of poignant expression and fiery virtuosity. Among the featured soloists are Mary Wilson (soprano), Judith Malafronte (alto), Kyle Stegall (tenor), and John Thiessen (trumpet).

For a full listing of events and ticket information, visit

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

April and May Concerts at 92nd St. Y
Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 7:30 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Kirill Gerstein, piano

Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 7:30 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Jennifer Koh, violin
Shai Wosner, piano

Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 8 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Yamandu Costa, seven-stringed guitar

Monday, April 11, 2016 at 8:30PM
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Daedalus String Quartet, with members of SPEAKMusic

Monday, April 18, 2016 at 8:30 PM
92Y – Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
St. Lawrence String Quartet

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 7:30PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
St. Lawrence String Quartet

Monday, May 2, 2016 at 8:30 PM
92Y – Buttenwieser Hall
Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, piano (US Debut)

Monday, May 23, 2016 at 8:30 PM
92Y – Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
JACK Quartet

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

American Pianists Association Announces Finalists for 2017 American Pianists Awards
American Pianists Association (APA) announces the five pianists who are finalists for the American Pianists Awards - Alex Beyer, Sam Hong, Steven Lin, Kate Liu, and Drew Petersen will compete for the prestigious award which is given every four years to an American classical pianist at the conclusion of the APA's unique 13-month-long competition process.

Valued at more than $100,000, the American Pianists Awards winner receives the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship which includes a $50,000 cash award and career assistance for two years, to include publicity, public performances, a recording contract and other opportunities worldwide.

Through American Pianists Awards Premiere Series, which runs throughout the season, the five pianists are invited to Indianapolis for outreach and community events as well as an adjudicated solo recital and concerto performance with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Then, during the Awards' Discovery Week (4/3-4/8), all five finalists arrive in Indianapolis for a week of adjudicated events. Performances include solo recitals, outreach concerts, and chamber concerts, premier of a commissioned work, as well as a concerto performance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. At the conclusion of these and other activities, a distinguished panel of international judges will award the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship to the winner of the competition.

"There are many prestigious piano competitions throughout the world, but ours is unique," says APA's President/CEO and Artistic Director Joel Harrison. "Because we have a multi-step process that occurs over a 13-month period, we get to see and hear each finalist in a variety of settings, both in the concert hall and out in the community. They gain an unparalleled opportunity to grow professionally, and we gain a unique chance to watch each evolve as artists and to gain enhanced artistic stature, at an important time in their professional development. It's perhaps the most rewarding part of our work to see these already accomplished artists take their talent to the next level, and to bring that talent to not only Indianapolis, but to the world. And it is through this process that all of the finalists – not just the winner – can grow."

For more information, visit

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Spring @ The Wallis
Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner: "Bridge to Beethoven: Finding Identity Through Music"
Sat, March 26, wine and conversation with Shai Wosner and composer Andrew Norman at 7pm; performance at 8pm.

Colburn @ The Wallis
Colburn Chamber Music Society with the Principal Brass of the New York Philharmonic
Sun, April 10, wine and conversation with Mark Lawrence, Colburn Chamber Music Society faculty brass chair, and conductor, with Alan Baer and Joseph Alessi from the Principal Brass, at 2pm; performance at 3pm.

The Jerusalem Quartet
Thurs, April 14, wine and conversation with cellist Kyril Zlotnikov at 7pm, performance at 8pm.

Ezralow Dance Company: OPEN
Fri, April 29 and Sat, April 30, wine and conversation with Daniel Ezralow and arts journalist Victoria Looseleaf at 7pm; performance at 8pm.

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Bram Goldsmith Theater
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210

Ticket prices: $25 – $99 (prices subject to change).
By phone at 310.746.4000. On-line at Or at the box office.

For more information, visit

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Two NEC Students Awarded Prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grants
Two New England Conservatory students, pianist George Li and violinist Alexi Kenney, are being awarded Avery Fisher Career Grants today. The awards are being announced at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR in New York City. Joseph W. Polisi, Chairman of the Avery Fisher Artist Program will make the announcement. He will be joined by members of the Fisher family, specifically two of Avery Fisher's three children, Charles Avery Fisher and Nancy Fisher, and Avery Fisher's grandson, Philip Avery Kirschner.

Each recipient will receive a $25,000 grant, which provides professional support and acknowledgment for their solo careers. The grants are given to exceptionally talented instrumentalists and up to five Career Grants may be given each year. Since the program's origin in 1976, 141 winners have been chosen, including this year's awards.

For more information about New England Conservatory:
For more information about the Avery Fisher Career Grants:

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi

University of Washington's UW World Series to Launch New Identity as Meany Center
The University of Washington announced today that the UW World Series, one of Seattle's leading performing arts presenters, will begin the 2016-17 Season under a new name and identity: Meany Center for the Performing Arts. The change reflects an expanded, more dynamic role as a world-class center for performance, public engagement, learning and creative research in the arts.

"The University of Washington World Series has been bringing extraordinary artists from around the globe to Seattle for over 37 years, and that commitment continues," says Michelle Witt, executive and artistic director of Meany Center. "But our program has grown to become something much more: a dynamic, creative hub with a broader mission to connect diverse audiences, students and faculty with visionary artists and ideas, nurture a culture of shared discovery and inspire our local, national and international communities. We do this by collaborating with artists who demonstrate the most original, innovative, courageously realized examples of human creativity and expression."

Located on the UW Seattle campus, Meany Center is uniquely positioned to leverage the vast intellectual and creative resources of the University of Washington to support learning and advance excellence and innovation in the performing arts. The Center will facilitate scholarly and artistic partnerships, support creative research, deepen audiences' access to and understanding of artists and art forms, rethink the context of performance spaces and explore contemporary ideas through the lens of the performing arts.

For more information, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Emerson Quartet Gives Three-Concert Series with Lincoln Center's Great Performers
This spring, the world-renowned Emerson String Quartet performs a three-part series of late Haydn and early Beethoven string quartets entitled "Passing the Torch," presented by Lincoln Center's Great Performers.

The Emerson's three programs alternate between works by Haydn and Beethoven, two masters of the string quartet. Haydn's Op. 76 Quartets are ambitious chamber works containing some of his boldest and brightest musical writing, the brilliant result of a lifetime spent developing the form. Beethoven's Op. 18 Quartets exhibit mastery of the Classical legacy he inherited from Haydn, which Beethoven pushed to a new threshold while incorporating motifs of tension, humor, and grace. Last fall, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praised the Emerson's performance of Haydn's Quartet Op. 76, No. 4 ("Sunrise"): "The group's unanimity and high technical accomplishment was immediately evident… The Adagio movement, equally exposed, conveyed an eloquent simplicity. The folk-like character of the Minuet and Finale that followed was meshed with classical elegance and restraint."

Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall

Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 5 PM
Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall

Friday, May 12, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall

For more information, visit

--Hanna Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

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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