Classical Music News of the Week, August 6, 2016

Kevin Puts's New Song Cycle with Renée Fleming, Letters from Georgia

Kevin Puts's new song cycle, Letters from Georgia, will receive World Premiere performances by Renée Fleming.

Based on the letters of Georgia O'Keeffe, the work will be premiered at Eastman Theater on November 12, and then at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on November 14.

Letters from Georgia, a new song cycle based on the letters of painter Georgia O'Keeffe and composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, will receive its world premiere performances on November 12th and 14th, sung by four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renée Fleming and accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia under the direction of Neil Varon. The songs are based on O'Keeffe's expressive letters, written mainly to her eventual husband Alfred Stieglitz and artist and suffragette Anita Pollitzer. Puts wrote the cycle for, and in close collaboration with, Ms. Fleming.

There will be two concerts featuring Letters from Georgia: Saturday, November 12th at 8pm at The Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in Rochester, NY; and Monday, November 14th at 8pm at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York City.

Puts, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for his opera Silent Night, says of O'Keeffe's writings: "I found that her letters reveal aspects of her personality one doesn't necessarily associate with her. She could be stoic and aloof but her letters also revealed tremendous passion and longing, self-deprecating humor, and also often great sadness.

For more information, visit and

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Shuman Associates 2016-17 Season Preview
Semyon Bychkov, conductor
September 30: PBS Great Performances broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2016.
October 2016: Recording release of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony ("Pathétique") and the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture with the Czech Philharmonic on Decca Classics, the first release in a Tchaikovsky recording cycle.
November 29, 30: Mahler's Fifth Symphony and Detlev Glanert's Theatrum bestiarum with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.
January 24 – February 11: Beloved Friend: Tchaikovsky and His World, the New York Philharmonic's three-week festival curated by Mr. Bychkov.

James Conlon, conductor
September 17 – October 16: Verdi's Macbeth at LA Opera, featuring Plácido Domingo.
January 28 – February 19: Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio at LA Opera.
February 18 – March 19: Strauss's Salome at LA Opera, featuring Patricia Racette in Sir Peter Hall's 1986 production.
April 6–8: Works by Shostakovich, Britten, and Prokofiev with the National Symphony Orchestra, featuring pianist Lisa de la Salle.
April 22 – May 13: Puccini's Tosca at LA Opera.

Kirill Gerstein, pianist
September 9: Recording release of Liszt's Transcendental Études on Myrios Classics.
February 2–4, 7: N.Y. premiere of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto in its 1879 urtext edition with conductor Semyon Bychkov and the New York Philharmonic.
February 23–26: Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with conductor Xian Zhang and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
March 1: Brahms's Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 with the Hagen Quartet at Carnegie's Zankel Hall.
March 10, 11: Busoni's Piano Concerto with Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
April 7–9: Gershwin's Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue with conductor David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony.
May 16, 21, June 11: Liszt's Transcendental Études and Brahms's Second Piano Sonata at the Seattle's Meany Hall, UDC's Theatre of the Arts in Washington, D.C. and the Chicago Symphony Center.

Stephen Hough, pianist
January 11–14: Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto ("Emperor") with conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic.
April 22: Works by Debussy on a program with Mr. Hough's own choral compositions, performed by VocalEssence.

Jennifer Koh, violinist
September 9: Recording release of Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra with Alexander Vedernikov and the Odense Symphony Orchestra on Cedille Records.
October 1: World premiere of Christopher Rountree's Violin Concerto with wild Up as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's "From Noon to Midnight" festival.
October 15: People's Symphony Concert with pianist Shai Wosner, featuring works by Beethoven, Debussy, Fauré, Kaija Saariaho, and György Kurtág.
October 28–30: Kaija Saariaho's violin concerto Graal théâtre with the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble.
November 30: Variation String Trio performs works by Kaija Saariaho, Andrew Norman, and György Kurtág at 92nd Street Y.
December 24: Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 with conductor Jaime Laredo and the New York String Orchestra.
March 21: Bridge to Beethoven Program I with pianist Shai Wosner, featuring the Philadelphia premiere of Vijay Iyer's Bridgetower Fantasy.
March 30, April 2: Steven Mackey's Beautiful Passing with conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
May 11–14: Sibelius's Violin Concerto with conductor Xian Zhang and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä, Music Director
September 9: Recording release of Sibelius's Third, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies on BIS Records.
September 22, 23: 2016–17 season launch.
November 11, 12: World premiere of Claudio Puntin's Clarinet Concerto and performance of Mahler's Sixth Symphony, recorded for future release.
January 8–10: Florida tour to Naples, Sarasota, and Miami. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein performs as soloist on January 8 and 9.
January 30 – February 3: 2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, including a subscription concert conducted by Mr. Vänskä.

New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Co-Founder and Artistic Director
October 15, 16: Launch of 2016–17 WALLCAST season.
October 29: NWS alumnus Teddy Abrams returns to conduct American works.
November 4: PULSE: Late Night at the New World Symphony, fall program.
November 20: "Taking the Prize: a Pulitzer Centennial Celebration," a program featuring Steve Reich's Double Sextet.
March 3: PULSE: Late Night at the New World Symphony, spring program.
April 29: New Work concert.

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
October 27: N.Y. premiere of Jessie Montgomery's Records from a Vanishing City and performance of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with Christian Zacharias.
December 3: Fazil Say performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 and his own Piano Concerto No. 2.
January 15 – February 5: Eastern U.S. tour and Carnegie Hall performance. Program features world premiere of Michael Hersch's End Stages and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Vadim Gluzman.
March 18: Schumann's Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein.

San Francisco Opera
September 9–30: Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier in a production by Sir David McVicar.
September 10–29: World premiere of composer Bright Sheng and playwright David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber.
February 24–26, March 1–3: SF Opera Lab presents Ted Hearne's The Source.

San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director
September 7–11: Steve Reich 80th birthday celebration conducted and curated by Michael Tilson Thomas.
September 28 – October 1: World premiere of Bright Sheng's "Overture" to Dream of the Red Chamber, an SFS commission and concert suite based on Sheng and playwright David Henry Hwang's new opera for the San Francisco Opera (September 10–29).
October 28: All-Debussy album released on SFS Media.
December 9, 10: SoundBox season opens with a Lou Harrison centennial celebration curated and hosted by MTT.
January 13–15: Semi-staged production of Mahler's Das klagende Lied, conceived and conducted by MTT.
January 20, 21: SoundBox program curated by DJ and composer Mason Bates.
February 10, 11: SoundBox program of music by young composers curated by John Adams.
February 16–18, 22–25: John Adams 70th birthday celebration.
March 10, 11: SoundBox program of Italian repertoire curated by MTT.
April 5–8: Concerts in Chapel Hill and New York (Carnegie Hall), featuring cellist Gautier Capuçon.
April 14, 15: SoundBox program curated by SFS principal trombonist Tim Higgins.
June 23–25: West Coast premiere of MTT's Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. The program also continues SFS's Lou Harrison centennial celebration with a performance of his Suite for Symphonic Strings.

Spoleto Festival USA
January 8: Season announcement.

Utah Symphony, Thierry Fischer, Music Director / Utah Opera
Fall 2016: Recording release of Mahler's Eighth Symphony ("Symphony of a Thousand") with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Madeleine Choir School on Reference Recordings.

--Shuman Associates

ClassicsOnline Goes Mobile
ClassicsOnline has released the newest version of their mobile app, a companion to their classical music streaming service. Available for iOS and Android, classical music enthusiasts will enjoy the highest possible sound quality allowed by their connection with no buffering or loss of signal, ranging from 16-bit, 44.1 kHz all the way up to 24-bit, 192 kHz, while exploring new releases, award-winners, global best-sellers, and expertly curated playlists.

The ClassicsOnline mobile app for iOS and Android makes it effortless to take their streaming service with you. Free with both the monthly and annual ClassicsOnline subscription plans, this app allows you to browse new releases, critically acclaimed award-winners, global best-sellers, and their expertly curated playlists.

For more information, visit

--Jeff Greene, Publicist

NEC Presents 1,000 Free Musical Performances and Events During 2016-2017 Season
New England Conservatory presents 1,000 free musical performances and events during the 2016-2017 season: Orchestral and chamber music, opera, vocal and choral performances, recitals, masterclasses and more.

Fall highlights include: Miriam Fried's 70th Birthday Bash with Bach, Celebration of Erik Satie's Music, 100th Anniversary of the Debussy Trio for Flute, Harp & Viola World Premiere in Jordan Hall featuring Kim Kashkashian, et al., and a Masterclass with Yo-Yo Ma.

New England Conservatory announces an exciting fall season filled with wonderful special events, orchestral, vocal and opera performances, masterclasses. and more.

For concert times, event locations, and more information, please visit:

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

Chiara Quartet Plays Complete Bartok Quartets from Memory at Ravinia
The Chiara String Quartet (Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violins; Jonah Sirota, viola; Gregory Beaver, cello) will perform all six of Béla Bartók's string quartets by heart, or from memory, a feat never attempted before, at the Ravinia Festival in Bennett Gordon Hall (201 St. Johns Ave.) on September 7 (Quartets Nos. 1, 3, and 5) and September 8 (Quartets Nos. 2, 4, and 6) at 6pm. Bartók's quartets highlight an incredible life in music, from his journey uncovering rare folk music of Europe and Northern Africa to his final exodus from Hungary to America on the eve of World War II. This cycle brings his amazing, colorful works to life in vivid performances.

September 7 & 8, 2016 at 6pm
Bennett Gordon Hall, 201 St Johns Ave., Highland Park, IL
Tickets: $10 at or 847.266.5100

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Lindsey Stirling Summer Tour 2016 and More at Green Music Center
Thu, Aug 11 at 7:30pm. Gates Open at 5:30 pm
Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

Lindsey Stirling is one of the biggest artist  development breakthrough stories in recent  years. A classically trained violinist, Lindsey has  entered a futurist world of electronic big beats  and animation. On stage, Stirling moves with the  grace of a ballerina but works the crowd into a  frenzy, "dropping the beat" like a rave fairy.

For more information, visit

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Fri, Aug 19 at 7:30pm, Weill Hall + Lawn

Representing a global array of cultures, Silk Road Ensemble members co-  create art, performances, and ideas. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma established the  nonprofit organization Silkroad and the Ensemble to explore the role of the  arts in fostering cross-cultural understanding, deepening learning, and  promoting innovation. The group has been called " vibrant and virtuosic" by  the Wall Street Journal,

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

The ABS Festival Continues
Bach's Mass in B Minor
American Bach Soloists Academy Festival Orchestra & American Bach Choir
Soloists from the ABS Academy ~ Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

Sunday, August 7 7PM
St. Mark's Lutheran Church 1111 O'Farrell at Franklin

Also Sunday, August 14 2PM
San Francisco Conservatory of Music

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Green Music Center: 2016-17 Season, New Shows Announced
Two extraordinary concerts added to the 2016-17 Season
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Rohan de Silva, piano
Thusday, Oct 20 at 7:30pm, Weill Hall

Na Leo Holiday Show
Friday, Dec 16 at 7:30pm, Weill Hall

Green Music Center
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park, California

For more information, visit

--Green Music Center

The Wallis Presents Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro," Aug 10 - 28
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presents the final West Coast engagement of the critically-acclaimed Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro" from August 10 – 28. In "Maestro," Felder channels the great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, drawing audiences deeply into the maestro's fascinating life, one filled with tragedy, triumph, and extraordinary music.

The Wallis' production marks the final West Coast engagement prior to a highly-anticipated transfer to New York City's 59E59 Theaters from August 31 – October 16.

For more information, visit

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa