Classical Music News of the Week, October 1, 2016

The Salon/Sanctuary Concerts 2016 - 2017 Season

The 2016 - 2017 Season: On the Margins
Joining the world-wide 500th anniversary commemorations of the creation in Venice of the world's first ghetto, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts' eighth season explores the musical worlds shaped by ancestors and descendents of exiles. From Esther to Shylock, from Troubadors to Dowland, we glimpse at fault lines of acceptance refracted through the prism of music.

A journey through time and a trip through venues, the season traverses a millennium of music and cultural history--from Ghetto to Cappella, from Opera House to Souk, from Salon to Sanctuary.

Friday, October 28th, 8:00pm
The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, 417 East 61st Street between 1st and York Avenues, NYC
Tickets $25/35/50/100
"On the Margins of the Opéra Comique: Jewish Composers, Covert Spaces, and the Legacy of the Wagnerian Suppression"
Rebecca Ringle, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Merrill, fortepiano

Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm
The Harvard Club of New York City, 35 West 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, NYC
"Mad Dog"
Hopkinson Smith performs a solo lute recital in support of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts
Works of Holborne, Byrd, and the great John Dowland, a Catholic exile from the Protestant court of Elizabeth I, form this program performed by "Living Legend" Hopkinson Smith, as a benefit event for Salon/Sanctuary Concerts.

Sunday, December 11th, 7:00pm
The Bernie Wohl Theater of Goddard Riverside Community Center
647 Columbus Avenue between 91st and 92nd Street, NYC
Tickets $20/35/50/100
"The Floor of Heaven: Scenes from a Merchant and Songs of his Venice"
Nicholas Tamagna, Countertenor
Christopher Morrongiello, Renaissance Lute
Deborah Houston, Director
Script and Dramaturgy by Erica Gould

Thursday, January 12th, 8:00pm
The Sanctuary of Brotherhood Synagogue, 28 Gramercy Park South, NYC
Tickets $25/35/100
"Of Meistersingers and Mizmorim: The Wandering Troubador, the Origins of Klezmer, and the Medieval Roots of Wagnerian Fantasy"
Corina Marti, recorders & clavisymbalum
Ivo Haun, tenor
Ayelet Karni, recorders
Christa Patton, harp

And continued concerts through May 2017.

For tickets and information, call 1 888 718 - 4253 or visit

--Jessica Gould, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Berkeley RADICAL Innovation Thematic Strand Launches with the Cullberg Ballet and Deborah Hay
Innovation, one of three season-long thematic strands of Cal Performances' Berkeley RADICAL initiative, launches with the Bay Area premiere of pioneering choreographer Deborah Hay's latest work, and culminates with a rare collaboration by two visionary next-generation dance-theater artists and their companies. Part retrospective, part celebration of trailblazing artistic discovery, the Innovation strand of the Cal Performances 2016/17 season tracks and joins a group of established innovators, some at key milestone birthdays, by exploring their ideas and gaining insights into novel directions in contemporary performance. Innovation places a focus on a selection of contemporary artists who have created major new ideas for the interdisciplinary performance stage.

Encompassing new commissions and a major restaging, Innovation will launch with Hay's large-scale, meditative Figure a Sea, performed by the ground-breaking Swedish company Cullberg Ballet. Two contemporary legends, Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov, unite in a new creation, co-commissioned by Cal Performances—Letter to a Man, based on the diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky—in its West Coast premiere November 10–13, 2016. Steve Reich, at 80, presents fresh ideas with Ensemble Signal's American premiere performance of Runner, January 29, 2017, co-commissioned by Cal Performances. To celebrate John Adams' 70th birthday, the composer's 1980s collaboration with architect Frank O. Gehry and choreographer Lucinda Childs, Available Light, is revived in a Cal Performances co-commissioned restaging, February 3–4, 2017. In a forward-looking fusion of dance and theater, choreographer Crystal Pite and her company Kidd Pivot join with theater artist Jonathon Young and his Electric Company Theatre for Betroffenheit, March 10-11, 2017.

Berkeley RADICAL: This performance is part of Cal Performances' Berkeley RADICAL Innovation thematic strand, which follows a group of artistic trailblazers, some celebrating key milestones, who continually ask us to perceive, think, and understand in new ways. More information at

Tickets: Prices range from $30–$86 (subject to change).

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Rubinstein Prize-Winner Pianist Boris Giltburg Gives NY Solo Recital Debut at Carnegie
Silver-prize and audience-prize winner at the 2011 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, critically acclaimed pianist Boris Giltburg gives his New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on October 27 with an all-Russian program, presented by the American Friends of the Arthur Rubinstein International Music Society. The program includes works by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Scriabin, as well as Giltburg's own piano arrangement of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor.

Boris Giltburg's recently released Rachmaninov CD on Naxos was selected as BBC Music Magazine's Instrumental Choice for August, as well as Gramophone's Recording of the Month in June. Gramophone wrote: "This vision will place him among the truly memorable Rachmaninov interpreters, an elect including Moiseiwitsch, Horowitz, Kappel, Richter and Cliburn. His originality stems from a convergence of heart and mind, served by immaculate technique and motivated by a deep and abiding love for one of the 20th century's greatest composer-pianists."

Admission: $25-$50
Tickets on sale at, CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, and at the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, NYC.

For more information on the artist, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

The World's First Virtual Reality Episodic Horror Opera, "The Parksville Murders"
Opera on Tap is proud to announce its most innovative project yet: an episodic horror opera created for Virtual Reality, entitled The Parksville Murders. The piece, featuring music by Kamala Sankaram and libretto by Jerre Dye, directed by Cari Ann Shim Sham, is being produced by Shim Sham, Opera On Tap's Anne Hiatt, and former Blue Man Group creative director Todd Perlmutter, in collaboration with leading virtual reality production company Light Sail VR.

Watch the VR trailer here:

Inspired by the genre-bending horror classics from Cronenberg, Lynch and others, The Parksville Murders places viewers in a dimly-lit kill room in the Catskills, NY, standing amidst a group of mysterious, hooded "watchers" as they gaze upon two terrified young women, one paralyzed, lying in a bathtub full of dead leaves.

The episode will be released in late January 2017, though there will be a special preview exhibit for RSVP guests on October 27, 7-10PM at the DUMBO Archway, in collaboration with the DUMBO Business Improvement District. The evening will feature an exclusive preview exhibit with VR viewing of the full episode, as well as live music from bands, including composer Kamala Sankaram's ensemble Bombay Rickey, and refreshments.

For more information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

ACME Performs with Blonde Redhead, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Thereminist Carolina Eyck, and More
The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) embarks on a busy month of concerts on October 6 at Le Poisson Rouge in New York with Nordic Noir, a concert featuring music by Danish composers Frans Bak, Ejnar Kanding and MBD73. ACME will tour with Blonde Redhead from October 9-14, performing the band's album Misery is a Butterfly in its entirety, before joining Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for a tour supporting his recent Deutsche Grammophon album Orphée from October 16-23. Upon returning to New York, ACME performs with German thereminist and composer Carolina Eyck in the world premiere of her Fantasias for theremin and string quartet. ACME and Eyck's recording of the Fantasias will be released by Butterscotch Records on October 14.

October 6 at 7pm: "Nordic Noir" at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., NYC

October 9-14: "Misery is a Butterfly Tour" with Blonde Redhead

October 16-23: "Orphée Album Tour" with Jóhann Jóhannsson

November 4 at 7:30pm: "Fantasias for Theremin & String Quartet" with Carolina Eyck (World Premiere, Album Release) at Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th St., NYC

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

PBO + Beethoven = Brilliant
What do you get when America's leading period-instrument orchestra performs Beethoven? We say, "brilliance!" Join Nic McGegan and the Orchestra at our All Beethoven concerts taking place October 15-22 throughout the Bay Area.

Hear Harvard professor Robert Levin interpret the Concerto for Fortepiano No. 3 then experience our take on Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral."

Come experience these masterworks the way Beethoven intended them to be heard - with all the richness and color that period instruments reveal when passionately played by gifted musicians who love what they do.

If you're coming, be sure to arrive 45 minutes early to hear the pre-concert talk. Washington Post Classical Music Critic Anne Midgette will give the talk at our San Francisco concert on October 21.

Saturday October 15 @ 7: 30 PM
Weill Hall at Green Music Center, Rohnert Park

Sunday October 16 @ 4:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Wednesday October 19 @ 7:30 PM
Bing Concert Hall, Palo Alto

Friday October 21 @ 8:00 PM
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

Saturday October 22 @ 8:00 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Tribute to British Choral Music Presented by National Philharmonic at Strathmore
The National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra bring alive majestic cathedral music in Strathmore's concert hall, on Saturday, November 5 at 8 pm. Coronation music found in the great British choral tradition, including Handel's famous "Zadok the Priest," will be featured in this concert for choir, brass and organ and led by National Philharmonic Chorale Music Director Stan Engebretson. The evening will include the world premiere "Of Radiance and Light," a commissioned work composed by the young, dynamic Maryland composer Alistair Coleman.

Coleman's "Of Radiance and Light," commissioned by the National Philharmonic, charts a journey from darkness to enlightenment, which is embodied structurally and symbolically through several devices in both the text and the music. The text, compiled by the composer himself, consists of verses from several psalms that are woven together to create a linear narrative representing this journey toward wisdom. Musically, the texture undergoes a transformation from dense and somber sonorities toward greater clarity and exhilaration of feeling, punctuated by introspective and meditative passages. An interesting textual device is the recurrence of the line "Arise, shine; for thy light is come" (Isaiah, 60), coupled with a variety of harmonic tones to represent the many sentiments that this sentence can evoke.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, November 5 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's Music From the Cathedral concert, please visit or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets start from $19. Kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program . ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

NYC Celebrates Israel Philharmonic's 80th Anniversary
Rochelle and David A. Hirsch, Linda and Michael G. Jesselson, and Ruth and Theodore N. Mirvis, along with host Paula Zahn, are proud to announce this year's Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) New York Gala will be held on Tuesday, November 15 at the The Plaza Hotel--in celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The benefit committee is comprised of prominent New York business and philanthropic leaders including Rita and Charles Bronfman, Sara and Charles Fabrikant, Arlene and Morris Goldfarb, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, Lauren and John Veronis, and Elaine and James Wolfensohn (amongst others).

This celebratory occasion will include a cocktail party and chamber music concert with members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and guest violinist Julian Rachlin, followed by dinner. Rachlin, a dynamic violinist and praised conductor, has performed and toured extensively with the IPO. The evening's program of Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence, performed by a dazzling string sextet, will provide attendees with a unique opportunity to hear Tchaikovsky's most ambitious chamber work in an intimate setting.

American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
122 East 42nd Street, Suite 4507, New York, NY 10168

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

McGegan 30 Years Guest Conducting the St. Louis Symphony
All-Mozart Program:
Symphony No. 31, K. 297, "Paris"
Violin Concerto No. 1, K. 207
Serenade No. 9, K. 320, "Posthorn"
Jennifer Koh, violin

October 7 & 8, 2016

--Schwalbe and Partners

Sea Sketches: Music of Walters, Walton, Williams, and Warlock (CD review)

Roy Goodman, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. CBC Records SMCD 5227.

This album of English string music seems well titled, as it is the Sea Sketches by Grace Williams that contain among the most memorable tunes on the disc.

Ms. Williams (1906-1977), probably best known as the first female Welsh composer of distinction, created in the Sea Sketches a series of five descriptive movements that may remind some listeners of Claude Debussy's La Mer or Frank Bridge's The Sea, if not in actual substance at least in mood. The Sea Sketches comprise individual tone poems labeled "High Wind," "Sailing Song," "Channel Sirens," "Breakers," and "Calm Sea in Summer," each of them highly evocative. My favorite is "Channel Sirens," in which one can hear the sounds of the sea nymphs singing in the instruments. It's all quite charming under the guidance of Roy Goodman and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble small enough and light enough to give the music the intimacy and transparency it needs.

Roy Goodman
Not that the other works on the disc are in any way negligible, but like any collection of similar material, in this case short string pieces in the English pastoral mode, things can begin sounding alike after a short while. Anyway, the other compositions include the Divertimento for Strings by Gareth Walters; the Serenade for Strings by Peter Warlock; and Two Pieces for Strings from the film Henry V and the Sonata for Strings, both by Sir William Walton.

It's all quite lovely, personally chosen for inclusion in this collection by their conductor, Roy Goodman, probably better recognized for his period-instruments recording with the Hanover Band but here, as I say, doing a fine job with the Manitoba players.

I wish I could wax as enthusiastically about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's sound as I can about the performances. Unfortunately, the recording, originally released in 2000, seems to me fairly ordinary by today's best standards. The audio is in no way poor, mind you, but it doesn't exactly jump out at one as sounding particularly live; unless you play it softly and pretend you're sitting in an auditorium at a moderate distance from the players. In any case, the sound displays a good left-to-right stereo spread, a decent illusion of depth, but an overall soft and slightly veiled presence. Perhaps it suits the relaxed nature of the music.


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

Moszkowski: From Foreign Lands (CD review)

Rediscovered orchestral works. Martin West, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Reference Recordings RR-138.

One of the advantages of having listened to and collected classical recordings for well over sixty years is getting to know more about the people who wrote the music. But I have to admit that in all that time I barely remembered the name Moszkowski. Yes, after much thought I recalled one piece, "Spanish Dances," in my collection on a Decca album with Ataulfo Argenta and the LSO. But remembering it required a stretch. So it's good to know that Martin West and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra have done up some of Moszkowski's work in a disc called "From Foreign Lands, Rediscovered Orchestral Works." And it's especially gratifying to hear the material so well produced by Reference Recordings.

For the uninformed (and that would be me), a word from Wikipedia: "Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) was a German-Jewish composer, pianist, and teacher of Polish descent on his paternal side. The prominent Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski said of him, 'After Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing embraces the whole gamut of piano technique.' Although less known today, Moszkowski was well respected and popular during the late nineteenth century. He was quite prolific, composing over two hundred small-scale piano pieces, which brought him much popularity--notably his set of 'Spanish Dances' for piano duet" (on the present disc arranged for orchestra by Phillip Scharwenka and Valentin Frank).

Maestro West has chosen seven orchestral items (comprising twenty-one tracks and almost seventy-three minutes) for the album under review, music representing not only some of Moszkowski's best work but some of his most diverse. Here's a run-down of the items on the program, some of it recorded for the first time:

Fackeltanz (Torch Dance)*
Aus Aller Herren Lander (From Foreign Lands)
Habanera, Op. 65, No. 3*
Pres du Berceau (By the Cradle)
Six Airs de Ballet, Op. 56 from the incidental music to Grabbe's "Don Juan and Faust"*
Spanische Tanze (Spanish Dances)

*World premiere recordings

Martin West
Most of this material is lightweight, to be sure, yet it's also most delightful in the capable hands of West and his players. The opening "Torch Dance" has a rousing spirit. The six movements of "From Foreign Lands" are colorful and characterful, each exemplifying a different country. They reminded me of things by maybe Glazunov, Gounod, or Rimsky-Korsakov. In their time (the late nineteenth century), the "Foreign Lands" suite was apparently quite famous, although today audiences might find the music hopelessly Romantic. Personally, I love Romantic music, hopeless as it (and I) may be. This is a charming and easily pleasing set of tunes.

The "Habanera" was among my favorites on the program. Yes, it may remind some listeners of Bizet's more-famous take on the subject, yet it has a distinct appeal of its own. It's light and airy and memorable. I found "By the Cradle" the most overtly "balletic" of the selections on the agenda, although I didn't find it as noteworthy as the "Habanera." Nor did I think the six episodes of "Don Juan and Faust" as easily pleasurable, while they still held their own personality, particularly the cheerful closing number. "Gondoliera," on the other hand, well captured the ebb and flow of Venice canals, and West and company provide it with a sweet and engaging performance.

Then we come to the only Moszkowski work I sort of recognized, the five aforementioned "Spanish Dances." They, too, are lightweight but totally enchanting and deserve their widespread popularity. West handles each movement carefully, giving all of them a manifestly fresh yet still clearly Spanish flavor of their own.

Producers Marina A. Ledin and Victor Ledin of Encore Consultants and co-founding Reference Recordings engineer "Professor" Keith O. Johnson made the album in 24-bit HDCD at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, CA in March 2014.

The two most noticeable characteristics about the sound are its dimensionality and its dynamics. The miking appears to be more moderately distanced than most modern close-up affairs. As a result, we get a realistic sense of the studio ambience, the resonant bloom around the instruments, and the impression of orchestral depth as well as width. Then there's the matter of dynamic range, which is very wide, and dynamic impact, which can be quite striking. Of course, there may be drawbacks to these qualities for some listeners, in particular those listeners not used to a natural sound; I'm afraid some people might find the sonics too soft, too repressed, or too reverberant for their taste. So be it.

In any case, I personally found the sound lifelike, even if it hasn't all of the clarity, the transparency, so prized by some audiophiles. The frequency range is extended in both directions, the balance is as perfect as one could imagine, and the overall aural picture is one of a live orchestra in one's living room.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 24, 2016

Jeremy Denk and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Open 92Y Classical Season

On October 15, celebrated pianist Jeremy Denk joins the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, "the leading orchestra of its kind in America" (The New York Times), in its 92Y debut and its first New York performance since Carnegie Hall five years ago, opening 92Y's superb 2016/17 classical concert season.

This trailblazing ensemble performs the New York premiere of O Mikros, O Megas (The Small World, The Huge World) by George Tsontakis, whose ties to the Orchestra have included three other world premieres earning a Grawemeyer Award and Grammy nomination. This piece premieres the previous evening at Dartmouth. Jeremy Denk, 2013 MacArthur Fellow and one of SPCO's Artistic Partners since 2014, is the soloist for the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major, and the orchestra also performs Schubert's Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major.

Saturday, October 15 at 8:00PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall
New York City, NY

Bach Odyssey I
Angela Hewitt, piano
Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7:30 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall

Bach Odyssey II
Angela Hewitt, piano
Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 3 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Giancarlo Guerrero Commits to Nashville Symphony Through 2025
The Nashville Symphony today announced that music director Giancarlo Guerrero has agreed to a five-year contract extension to continue his leadership of the orchestra through the 2024-25 season. This would make Guerrero – who has served the orchestra in this capacity since 2009 – the second-longest-serving conductor in the orchestra's history. The Symphony also adds its 26th, 27th and 28th recordings on Naxos to its award-winning discography with collections devoted to composers Michael Daugherty (released September 9), Richard Danielpour (due October 14) and Jennifer Higdon (due spring 2017).

The seventh music director in the Nashville Symphony's 70-year history, Guerrero has overseen a period of remarkable success for the organization. Under Guerrero's leadership, the orchestra has garnered five of its eight GRAMMY Awards and presented eight world premieres, while also recording nine critically acclaimed albums, to cement the Nashville Symphony's reputation as one of the most active recording orchestras in the country.

His extended commitment to the orchestra is rare in the classical music industry and will play a key role in helping the Nashville Symphony sustain its mission of artistic excellence, fostering new American repertoire and serving the Middle Tennessee community. Since Guerrero's appointment, the Nashville Symphony has gained significant national and international attention for its prolific recording output and for forward-thinking collaborations with Nashville-based artists including Ben Folds, Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer.

For more information, visit

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Orion's Original Three Perform Khatchaturian, Granados, Yadzinski, John Williams
The Orion Ensemble salutes its roots with November concerts as three of its founding musicians perform in Geneva, Evanston, and Chicago, Illinois.

Showcasing its three original ensemble members--clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu and pianist Diana Schmück--The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, presents "Serenade by Three: Orion Beginnings."

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Serenade by Three: Orion Beginnings" takes place Sunday, November 6 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Sunday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston; and Wednesday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

YPC Performs World Premieres of Six New Works
The award-winning Young People's Chorus of New York City and Artistic Director and Founder Francisco J. Núñez continue their groundbreaking Transient Glory new music series with the world premieres of six choral works for young voices in concerts at National Sawdust on Friday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. and Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by WNYC's John Schaefer, the performances feature new works by six distinguished composers representing a wide range of perspectives and styles, including Mason Bates, YPC Composer-in-Residence Michael Gordon, Joan La Barbara, YPC alumna Jessie Montgomery, Robert Xavier Rodriguez, and Charles Wuorinen.

Mr. Núñez created Transient Glory as a platform for today's important composers?those who write major orchestral works, operas, and chamber music?to write for children's chorus. Mr. Núñez says, "I wanted to inspire today's Mozarts and Beethovens to write masterworks for the 21st- century children's chorus, with subjects that would appeal to the young minds of today." Now, nearly two decades later with over 100 compositions commissioned and premiered by YPC, Transient Glory has established an awareness among composers of the child's voice as a significant instrument for making music. Transient Glory works have now been performed by youth choirs worldwide and many of the works have become part of the standard repertoire for children's chorus.

Tickets for the Friday, November 4 concert at National Sawdust (80 North Sixth Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) are $35 and available by calling (646) 779-8455 or at

Tickets for the Sunday, November 6 concert at Merkin Concert Hall (129 West 67th St.) are $25 ($15 for students) and available at the box office, by calling (212) 510-3330, or at

For more information, visit

--Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

Rachel Podger to Leads PBO in Vivaldi & Bach Program
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale welcomes back Rachel Podger who will lead the Orchestra in a program of mostly violin concertos by Vivaldi and Bach in concerts taking place November 2-6 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Earlier this year, Rachel Podger won the BBC Music Magazine Concerto Award for Vivaldi "L'Estro Armonico" and was just recently awarded the Gramophone Classical Music Awards Baroque instrumental category for her recording of Biber "Rosary Sonatas" on Channel Classics. This is her third appearance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale.

Dubbed the "queen of Baroque violin" by the Sunday Times, Podger is known for her definitive interpretations of Vivaldi. This program explores the variety of styles and forms encompassed by the word "concerto" from the violin virtuosity of Tartini to the collaboration of flute, oboe, violin and bassoon in the chamber of Vivaldi. The program also includes a piece by Veracini and one of only four orchestral suites written by J.S. Bach.

See Rachel Podger with PBO throughout the bay area November 2-6. The Vivaldi & Bach program takes place Wednesday November 7 at 7:30 pm at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, CA; Friday November 4 at 8 pm at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco; Saturday November 5 at 8 pm and Sunday November 6 at 4 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA.

Tickets range from $27 to $108. For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For tickets, call 415-392-4400 or visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

The Crypt Sessions Celebrate Halloween with "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Gregg Kallor
On October 26th and 28th, Unison Media's performance series The Crypt Sessions will celebrate Halloween early with the world premiere of pianist/composer Gregg Kallor's dramatic canata based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," featuring mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Pojanowski, cellist Joshua Roman, and Kallor himself at the piano. Both concerts will be at 8PM, with a wine & cheese reception from 7-8PM.

A collaboration with On Site Opera, "The Tell-tale Heart" will have a semi-staged setup by director Sarah Meyers, who has worked with the Metropolitan Opera as stage director for over a decade. Gregg will also perform his appropriately-named cello sonata "Undercurrent" with Roman. Unison Media's acclaimed Crypt Sessions is a concert series presenting intimate performances in the underground crypt beneath The Church of the Intercession in Harlem, NY.

The concert is a part of Unison Media's Crypt Sessions, a concert series in partnership with The Church of the Intercession and sponsored by Yamaha, which most recently featured twin sister piano duo Christina & Michelle Naughton performing Messiaen's Visions of the Amen.

The Crypt Sessions Presents: Gregg Kallor - "The Tell-Tale Heart," with Elizabeth Pojanowski, mezzo-soprano, and Joshua Roman, cello. A collaboration with On Site Opera directed by Sarah Meyers. The program includes Kallor: "Undercurrent" for cello and piano and "The Tell-Tale Heart" for voice, piano and cello (world premiere).

Tickets are $35 (including a pre-concert wine & cheese reception), with all proceeds going to the church. October 26th & 28th, 2016 | Wine & Cheese 7PM | Show 8PM

Concert Information:
Crypt Sessions Homepage:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. III (CD review)

Paul Freeman, Chicago Sinfonietta. Cedille Records CDR 90000 066.

There are four good reasons listeners may be interested in this disc from 2003. First, it continues the Cedille Records series of classical music by contemporary African American composers. Second, it's very naturally and realistically recorded. Third, it contains some darned good music. And fourth, it's always a pleasure hearing the work of the late Paul Freeman (1936-2015) and the ensemble he founded and conducted for so long, the Chicago Sinfonietta.

The album comprises about an hour's worth of material by four different composers. The opening piece is called Global Warming (1990) by Michael Abels. It's an exceptionally rhythmic and harmonic work, synthesizing Irish and Middle Eastern musical styles into a surprisingly coherent and entirely satisfying and entertaining whole. The second, and longest, piece is Cello Concerto (1975) by David Baker. It is typically mid-twentieth century in its greater emphasis on atmosphere than on melody, although there are some good jazz-inspired tunes to be found if you listen carefully, especially in the third movement. The cellist is Katinka Kleijn, and the mood is mostly melancholic; but, interestingly, the Sinfonietta's accompaniment contains no cellos.

Paul Freeman
The third work represented bears the title Essay for Orchestra (1994), written by William Banfield. Containing an abundance of percussion, the piece was originally a part of a longer production, but the composer thought, rightly so, that it could stand alone. It's kind of a fun exercise in "Name that instrument." During its ten minutes duration, practically every instrument in the band gets its moment in the sun.

Then, the disc concludes with Generations: Sinfonietta No. 2 for Strings (1996) by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. The composer based each of its four movements loosely on descriptions of his own family: daughter, mothers, grandson, and fathers. Each movement uses one or more folk tunes combined with original melodies. The work is fascinating if slightly fragmented and sometimes repetitious.

The playing throughout is scrupulously meticulous, and Maestro Freeman is affectionate in his handling of the tunes. The whole affair is a testament to his the conductor's elegant sensibilities and innate sense of fun.

Cedille's sound, as always, goes for a natural hall ambience while occasionally overlooking ultimate transparency. Instruments sound best when they're isolated, and massed orchestral tones tend to get just the tiniest bit muddled. Nevertheless, the sound is easy on the ears, more pleasant sounding than most new recordings, and will have listeners recalling their last live concert. Which I count a very good thing.


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

Van der Sloot: Shadow, Echo, Memory (CD review)

Hans Jorgen Jensen, Northwestern University Cello Ensemble. Sono Luminus SLE-70004.

Here, I make a confession: Until auditioning this album, I had never before heard a cello ensemble. Indeed, I no idea what to expect from a large cello ensemble, what their tone or sound or level of expertise would be. Nor were any of my expectations very high, and the disc lay on my living-room shelf awaiting a listen for some weeks as I kept putting off what I thought might be a chore. Then I did listen.


To say that the Northwestern University Cello Ensemble exceeded my wildest expectations by a mile would be an understatement. To say that the performers and their performances exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. And to say that the recording quality exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. This one goes down as a clear entry in my list of favorite recordings of 2016.

So, what is this cello ensemble all about? According to the disc's accompanying booklet, the Northwestern University Cello Ensemble was "established by artistic director and Northwestern University cello professor, Hans Jorgen Jensen." The ensemble "began as a result of bringing together Northwestern students, talented Chicago-area high school cellists, and 21 highly successful Northwestern alumni in May 2013 to record Mahler's Adagietto. This unique and memorable event inspired the continuation of the project and the decision to record this debut album."

Don't think this is a small group, either. Augmenting the twenty-one alumni referred to above are dozens more, the booklet naming about fifty-eight cellos, seven basses, a guitarist, a percussionist, and a harpist, depending on the piece of music. They make a glorious sound.

The program consists of eight selections, the first one in three movements. The agenda is as follows:

Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983): Lacquer Prints
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924): Après un rêve
Michael van der Sloot (b. 1991): Shadow, Echo, Memory
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943): Vocalise 
Hans Thomalla (b. 1975): Intermezzo
Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960): Ballad
György Ligeti (1923-2006): Lux aeterna
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): Adagietto from Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor

Hans Jorgen Jensen
As you can see by the birth and death dates above, the program alternates modern numbers with older, Romantic transcriptions. Yet the modern material is hardly raucous, nonharmonic, or atonal. Appropriate to the mellifluous sound of the cello, Maestro Jensen has chosen music that complements the instruments, and most of it is quite beautiful, gracefully rhythmic, flowing, and satisfying.

Among the album's few tunes that sound at all "modern" is Michael van der Sloot's Shadow, Echo, Memory, which tends to be a bit more ambitiously experimental than the other items on the program. However, Van der Sloot fully utilizes the potential of the cello band, providing it with every opportunity to show off its range of possibilities. So, within its almost ten-minute structure, we hear slow and fast segments that are both dark and light, impressionistic, emotional, and visual. I was sorry when it ended.

Rachmaninov's Vocalise and Mahler's Adagietto are probably the most-familiar music on the agenda, although Ligeti's Lux Aeterna may come close (think Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey). The Cello Ensemble performs them all wonderfully, and the music seems to exude an even more-profound mood than ever coming from such a large body of cellos.

Congratulations to producer Hans Jorgen Jensen and recording, mixing, and mastering engineer Christopher Willis for the excellent work they did. They made the album at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in 2013 and 2014. There is a realistic clarity to the music, by which I mean it sounds natural, with just the right amount of ambient bloom to give the instruments a lifelike appearance. There is also a truthful scope to the group's dimensionality, filling in all areas of side-to-side and front-to-back perspectives. With a wide, well-balanced frequency response and strong dynamics, the sound comes across as I would imagine it might in a live performance. It is a complete and utter pleasure listening to it.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 17, 2016

Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Five Works by Stravinsky Oct. 7-9

Cal Performances continues the second season of its Berkeley RADICAL initiative with the launch of the season-long Immersion thematic strand, which embraces the idea of deep exploration. Over the course of the 2016/17 season, Immersion performances and public programs offer audiences a variety of opportunities for intense engagement with one of the most innovative composers of the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky; the complete string quartet cycle by the most well-known name in classical music, Beethoven; and perhaps the most enduring, elastic, and unpredictable musical instrument, the human voice.

The 2016/17 Immersion events begin October 7-9, 2016, as Cal Performances welcomes back the Philharmonia Orchestra, London and its principal conductor and artistic advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, for a three-concert residency featuring performances of five symphonic works by Stravinsky over two programs. This focused exploration includes the composer's iconic The Rite of Spring, Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and Agon on October 8; and on October 9, a re-creation of one of the opening concerts at Zellerbach Hall, when Stravinsky was in attendance, in May of 1968--Symphony of Psalms and Oedipus Rex. Salonen and the orchestra also perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica, and Sibelius's Symphony No. 5 on October 7.

Tickets for Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, on Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8 at 8pm, and Sunday, October 9 at 3pm in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA, range from $35-$150 and are subject to change. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, visit

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Philharmonia Opens Season with All Beethoven Concerts
America's largest and foremost period-instrument orchestra - Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale - will return for its 2016/17 season this October 15-22 with an "All Beethoven" program featuring Harvard professor of musicology and fortepianist Robert Levin.

In his 5th appearance with PBO since 1998, Levin will perform Beethoven's Concerto for Fortepiano No. 3 with the Orchestra for the first half of the program. This is the only one of Beethoven's concertos Philharmonia has not previously performed. Renowned for his improvised embellishments and cadenzas, Robert Levin has performed on period pianos in the past with the Academy of Ancient Music, English Baroque Soloists, Handel & Haydn Society, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood, Sir Charles Mackerras, and others.

For the second half of the program Nicholas McGegan and the Orchestra will offer their distinct take on Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral." McGegan has chosen to include an extra measure that Beethoven had originally composed for the second movement but later removed. The musical "aviary" that Beethoven included in this work will sound particularly unique when performed by PBO. Period wind instruments provide different colors than their modern counterparts. Their use in this concert will undoubtedly add a richer sound as well as a more historically accurate interpretation of this masterwork.

This season opener can be seen October 15-22 throughout the bay area. See "All Beethoven" on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park; on Sunday October 16 at 4 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley; on Wednesday October 19 at 7:30 pm at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto; on Friday October 21 at 8 pm at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco; and on Saturday October 22 at 8 pm at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.

Tickets range from $27 to $108. For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400. For Green Center tickets, please visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Danish String Quartet Makes Carnegie Debut on Fall U.S. Tour
Embark on U.S. tour: October 10 - 28, 2016.

In international demand for their exceptionally integrated sound and rare musical versatility, the Danish String Quartet return to the United States in October 2016 for a twelve-concert tour. Since making their debut in 2002 at the Copenhagen Festival, the group of musical friends have demonstrated a passion for Scandinavian composers, whom they frequently incorporate into adventurous contemporary programs, while proving themselves to be skilled and profound performers of the classical masters.

This fall the Quartet bring exciting and varied programs, featuring Beethoven, Bach, Janácek, Shostakovich, Nordic folk music, and a new work by Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin, commissioned by the Danish String Quartet, entitled Swans Kissing after the series of abstract paintings by Swedish artist Hilma af Klint. On October 26, the Quartet make their Carnegie Hall debut in Zankel Hall with eminent Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Conductor Fabien Gabel Announces His 2016-17 Season
Recognized internationally as one of the star conductors of the new generation, Fabien Gabel kicked off an exciting 2016/17 season and fifth year as Music Director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra last night with a performance including Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto.

Gabel's season also includes an extended American presence this spring, as he conducts the Houston Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. His 2017/18 season will also include a focus on major orchestras in the US including performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of DC and more.

The conductor will also lead a number of high-profile European dates, including the Orchestra National de France and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter, the Gulbenkian Orchestra with violinist Alina Ibragimova, the Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester at the Berlin Philharmonie, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, plus four operatic performances of Abroise Thomas's Hamlet with the Lausanne Opera. Gabel will also head to Asia for a performance with the Seoul Philharmonic.

In conjunction with his season announcement, Gabel is excited to his new Web site, viewable at

Full 2016-2017 season information:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Autumn at The Wallis: Upcoming October Events
Harlem Quartet with Aldo López-Gavilán  (Chamber Music: Modern)
Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 7pm

Carmen de Lavallade  (Dance)
Friday, October 28, 2016 at 8pm
"As I Remember It": Celebrating Carmen de Lavallade's 85th Birthday, directed by Joe Grifasi

Zukerman Trio (Chamber Music: Classic)
Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 7pm

Theater continuing through October:
"For The Record: Scorsese" (September 21 – October 16, 2016)

The American Revolution (September 30 – October 9, 2016)
History in 50 minutes

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Beverly Hills, California

For complete information, visit

--Sarah Javis, The Wallis

Young People's Chorus of New York City Announce First-Ever Composer-in-Residence
American composer Michael Gordon has been named the first-ever Composer-in-Residence of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC). The three-year residency, beginning this month, will comprise a new work composed by Mr. Gordon each year to be workshopped by the choristers and Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez and premiered by YPC at the end of each season. Mr. Gordon's residency will also include another new work composed for YPC's younger children, YPC's Satellite Schools children, and its community choruses; as well as masterclasses for YPC singers; and his participation as an artistic advisor.

The residency commences this season with the world premieres of two works commissioned from Mr. Gordon. YPC will sing the premiere of Great Trees of New York City in two Transient Glory concerts at National Sawdust on November 4 and again at Merkin Concert Hall on November 6. Mr. Gordon's second commission will be workshopped with YPC and Mr. Núñez during this season and premiered in June 2017 in New York City and at the Tampere Vocal Festival in Finland, where YPC was one of only three choirs selected from choruses worldwide to commission and premiere a new work for the festival's Songbridge Gala Concert.

For information about Young People's Chorus of NYC, visit

--Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

Emerson String Quartet 40th Anniversary Season: 2016-17
The 2016-17 season marks the Emerson String Quartet's 40th Anniversary--a major milestone for this ground-breaking ensemble, named "America's greatest quartet" by Time magazine, which has earned its place in the pantheon of the classical music world.

The Emerson Quartet continues to perform with the same benchmark integrity, energy and commitment that it has demonstrated since it was formed in 1976, and its 40th Anniversary season reflects all aspects of the Quartet's venerable artistry with high-profile projects and collaborations, commissions and recordings. In the words of Gramophone magazine, "They have achieved – and maintain -- their exalted place in the hierarchy of American quartets for good reason: at this point in their career, the Emerson's members understand as second nature the importance of clarifying the specific character of individual phrases and balancing them all into an elegant whole, and they can turn on a dime to create quicksilver variations of mood."

For more information, visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Free ABS Concert at UCD's Brand New Recital Hall
The American Bach Choir—the choral forces of ABS—will sing a free concert to open the 2016/17 Season of Shinkoskey Noon Concerts in the brand new Ann E. Pitzer Center's Recital Hall, University of California at Davis. The Recital Hall opens its doors for the first time this month with a weekend of dedicatory events, and the UC Davis Department of Music's free Thursday noon concerts will be inaugurated in the new state-of-the-art hall on September 29th by the American Bach Choir.

A free event, there are bound to be many wishing to attend, especially considering how exciting it will be to hear choral music performed in the new space. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas has chosen a superb program drawing from composers of the 16th through the 20th centuries.

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

DCINY Presents Soprano Melissa Wimbish in Her Carnegie Hall Debut
On October 10, Soprano Melissa Wimbish makes her DCINY Artist Series solo debut recital at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, in a performance featuring the American contemporary vocal music of Jake Heggie, André Previn, Jessica Meyer, Tom Cipullo, and Gregory Spears. The concert highlights new contemporary vocal works including the world premiere of Meyer's "Space In Chains."

Melissa recently won first prize at the 43rd NATS Artist Award, a prestigious competition for singers with 240 competitors and 3 rounds of competition. The award provided her this upcoming Carnegie Hall solo debut recital sponsored by DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York), as well as a feature in the 2016 NATS Conference winner's recital in Chicago. Additionally, she received a full-tuition scholarship to AIMS in Graz, a studio recording package from Futura Productions and a $1000 gift certificate from Hal Leonard.

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

Overtures & Intermezzi (CD review)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI 7243 5 74764 2 3.

While many other classical record companies had cut back severely on their output or curtailed production altogether in the early 2000's, it was reassuring to see EMI maintaining a healthy monthly release schedule of new and reissued material. Of course, the company would finally turn over its catalogue to Warner Classics, but in this case, their reissued stuff was among the best there was. Now, Warner Classics have made this 2003 reissue available on their own label, although you can still get it new on the older EMI label if you look around for it.

Anyway, the album in question is all about Maestro Herbert von Karajan, who did most of his recording during the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties with DG but always keep his ties open with EMI, having signed a contract with them all the way back in the Forties. He continued working with EMI almost exclusively through the Fifties and sporadically thereafter. While the earliest overtures and intermezzi contained on this album derive from 1960 and 1976, most of it is from the early 80's.

Herbert von Karajan
The items include Johann Strauss's Gypsy Baron Overture, Massenet's "Meditation" from Thais, Cherubini's Anacreon Overture, Weber's Der Freischutz Overture, Schmidt's Notre Dame Intermezzo, Puccini's Suor Angelica and Manon Lescaut Intermezzi, Mascagni's L'amico Fritz Intermezzo, Humperdink's Hansel und Gretel Overture, and Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture.

As usual, Karajan played them with his somewhat Romantic, glamorous, grandiose touch, the thematic qualities of the music sometimes playing second fiddle to the sheer beauty of the sound. It's what Karajan did best and why he was one of the most-popular conductors of his time. With bits like Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the violin in Thais, the old magic returning in Hansel und Gretel, and the Berlin Philharmonic at their peak, the collection remains a surefire crowd-pleaser.

EMI's sound for Karajan and the BPO is less warm, less padded, and less congested than what we often heard from the same ensemble on DG. Instead, the EMI sound is slightly bright, fairly open, and reasonably transparent. Surprisingly, perhaps, I found the oldest recording on the disc sounding the best, the 1960 rendering of Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture. To my ears it is the most realistically ambient, with its stereo spread the widest, its depth of image the most noticeable, and its resonant hall sonics the most clearly captured. And as with almost all newer remasterings, there is virtually no background noise to contend with and no appreciable loss of high end. In all, then, this is a pleasant collection.


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

Mozart: Exultate, jubilate (XRCD review)

Also, Regina Coeli; Laudate Dominum; Ave verum corpus; Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Mariella Devia, soprano; Daniele Callegari, Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana. JVC XRCD24-NT018.

While the Italian operatic soprano Mariella Devia (b. 1948) has perhaps gained greater acclaim in Europe than she has in America during her extensive career, it has done nothing to stop her from being heard on dozens of recordings. This album, from 1997, appears to be among her best, at least sonically, which is why I suppose JVC chose to remaster it in 2015 in their XRCD audiophile series. It's hard to argue they didn't make a worthy choice.

It's an all-Mozart program, with Daniele Callegari and the Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana accompanying Ms. Devia on the first three items and the orchestra itself taking over the purely orchestral reins of the final number. I was not familiar with the Italian orchestra, founded in 1985, nor the conductor, but they seem well up to the task, the somewhat smallish ensemble sounding fluid and transparent.

The first selection is Mozart's Exultate, jubilate ("Exult, rejoice"), KV165, a religious motet Mozart wrote in 1773 for solo voice, orchestra, and organ. Divided into four parts with alternating slow-fast movements, it may remind the listener of the composer's symphonic works but on a smaller scale. Ms. Devia's voice is airy and confident, and her rendering of the Andante is particularly felicitous.

Next is the four-movement Regina Coeli ("Queen of Heaven"), KV108, from 1771. It, too, is a piece of liturgical music, this one a little more ambitious than the preceding work, Mozart writing the Regina for soprano, choir, orchestra, and organ. Mozart based it on one of the Catholic Church's four seasonal "Marian antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary," typically sung at night prayer. Here, the orchestra plays a more-prominent and dramatic part, too, with the mid-bass a weightier factor and the choir adding to the gravitas of the affair. Indeed, the soprano's solo contribution to the music doesn't even appear until the second movement, where Ms. Devia remains in lovely voice.

After that are two brief works, Laudate Dominum ("Praise the Lord") for soprano, choir, orchestra, and organ; and Ave verum corpus ("Hail the true body") for choir, orchestra, and organ. Of these, I preferred the second item for its celestial grace and beauty.

Mariella Devia
To close the show, we get what may be Mozart's most-familiar piece of music, the Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, ("A Little Serenade" or, more commonly, "A Little Night Music"), K. 525, a composition the composer wrote for chamber ensemble in 1787. As there are probably 800 different recordings of it in the catalogue at any given time, the competition is intense. This version under Maestro Callegari is as good as most, although there is nothing much different about it to distinguish it from most of the others. In other words, it moves along at a stately, fluent pace, unhurried, unruffled, and unremarkable.

What is remarkable is that JVC can produce so meticulous a remastering as this one while at the same time making it so hard to get the disc loose from the center spindle. I mean, you want the disc to fit tightly, but not so tight that you practically break the disc in two trying to get it out. The rest of the JVC packaging, though, is immaculate: A glossy, hardcover Digipak-type design; liner notes bound to the inside; the disc fastened (tightly) to the inside back.

Originally recorded and produced by Giulio Cesare Ricci in December 1997 for the Fone label, the JVC (Victor Corporation of Japan) team of Tohru Kotetsu, Kazuo Kiuchi, and Shizuo Nomiyama remastered it in 2015 using XRCD/24 technology.

Of course, the folks at JVC pick only what they feel are the finest recordings to remaster, so I'm sure this one started out sounding pretty nice to begin with. Their remastering has clarified what was undoubtedly already good, clean, solid sound. On my system, however, I thought the voice was a little too bright for my ears, as was the entire upper midrange, although it certainly illuminates the sonics considerably, which never actually become hard or edgy. The rest of the aural spectrum appears equally clear, with especially quick transient response and realistic spatial dimensionality (if favoring the left side of the stage a bit much). Overall, this is very lucid sound and should please many audiophiles, even if the price for it is rather high.

You can find JVC XRCD24 recordings at any number of on-line marketplaces, but you'll find some of the best prices at Elusive Disc:


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 10, 2016

Cal Performances Announces Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile Performing the Music of J.S. Bach

Cal Performances announces today that the trio of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, and mandolin player Chris Thile will perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach set against a breathtaking dusk view of the Bay, at the second annual Gala at the Greek, Sunday, April 30, 2017, at 6pm in the Hearst Greek Theatre on the UC Berkeley campus, Berkeley, CA.

The trio of Ma, Meyer, and Thile--who alongside Stuart Duncan made their first appearance at Cal Performances in 2013 as part of the eclectic Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions, which blended bluegrass, jazz, and classical music--returns to the Greek Theatre as a new ensemble, re-imagining Bach's chamber works for its inventive instrumental configuration. The concert at the historic Greek Theatre is followed by a gala dinner to benefit Cal Performances' education and community programs.

Ma, Meyer, and Thile have each spent a lifetime with Bach's solo works—in Thile's case, recording and performing the solo violin partitas on mandolin, and in Meyer's case, showcasing the double bass in the unaccompanied suites for cello. Meyer's recordings have set a new standard for double bass solo performance on this repertoire. And the New Yorker praised Thile's solo Bach recording: "His timing is meticulous--no one can play top-flight bluegrass whose timing is uncertain--but his version also has the liveliness that improvising musicians sometimes can bring to written material." Ma last performed Bach's cello suites, a major part of his repertoire throughout his long career, at the Hearst Greek Theatre during Cal Performances' 2015/16 season. Ma continues to be a close collaborator with Cal Performances, and was a creative force behind choreographer Mark Morris's Layla and Majnun, which receives its world premiere in Zellerbach Hall on September 30 – October 2, featuring the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Silk Road Ensemble.

Ticket information:
Concert tickets for Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 6pm in the Hearst Greek Theatre will go on sale to the general public at noon on November 15. Tickets range between $50–$250 (prices subject to change). Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at 510-642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Opera Responds to Pulse Nightclub Tragedy: One Voice Orlando on Sept 11
For one night only, on Sunday September 11, 2016 at 8 p.m., One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song will be performed in the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 South Magnolia Avenue in downtown Orlando, FL. The benefit concert will feature some of opera's brightest national stars and musicians from throughout Florida. Internationally-renowned David Charles Abell will conduct and legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes will be one of the evening's hosts.

"We'll be almost exactly at three months from the date of the shooting when the concert is held," said Gabriel Preisser, the Executive and Artistic Director of Opera Orlando. "Over this time, we've witnessed a remarkable outpouring of support and generosity for the victims, their families and those directly impacted by this horrific shooting, As I spoke to fellow artists and administrators from around the country it became clear that our art form had to become a part of this effort to respond to the pain, sadness and confusion caused by the death and injury of so many innocent people. Some great individuals and organizations have stepped forward

Opera Orlando and its partners in this benefit concert have selected Central Florida organizations that work to build understanding of our region's diversity and address the interpersonal challenges that many people in their community face every day. These are the Orlando LGBTQ Community Center, Proyecto Somos Orlando, Holocaust Center's "UpStanders: Stand Up To Bullying Initiative," the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the Zebra Coalition, which helps LGBTQ youth. But it was the Orlando Health's Level One Trauma Center that was the impetus for the benefit concert.

Tickets are $25-$125 and are available now by calling 844-513-2014 or at

--Liza Prijatel Thors, Rebecca Davis PR

Murray Perahia Signs Landmark Deal with Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is proud to announce that Murray Perahia, one of the great musicians of our time, has signed to the yellow label. The American pianist intends to record key works from his repertoire, thereby preserving insights gained over the course of a career that began in the mid-1960s and continues to flourish as he approaches his 70th birthday next April. Perahia's artistry has been fêted for its many qualities, not least its poetic eloquence, tonal nuance and spiritual depth. His move to Deutsche Grammophon follows an exclusive association with Sony Classical and its predecessor Columbia Masterworks that began in 1973.

This significant new partnership, destined to deliver interpretations of the highest artistic calibre to the DG catalogue, will be launched this autumn with the release of Bach's French Suites. Perahia has always felt a great affinity with the music of Bach, having played some of his pieces since childhood and been powerfully influenced by a performance he attended at the age of fifteen of the St Matthew Passion conducted by Pablo Casals. He also found solace in studying the composer on a daily basis during a period in which illness prevented him from playing. He sees the French Suites as "Bach on the highest level," adding, "I don't think Bach wrote one note that didn't have wider meanings and that wasn't to be tackled with all one's heart and soul." His recording revels in the music's diverse moods, from melancholy tenderness to out-and-out joy, and brings out every nuance of its elegant phrasing and expressive dance rhythms.

An artist of Murray Perahia's stature joining Deutsche Grammophon at an advanced stage in his career is not without precedent. During the 1980s, CBS Masterworks lost the two greatest pianists signed to the label at the time, when both Rudolph Serkin and, shortly afterwards, Vladimir Horowitz decided to entrust their mature years as recording artists to the yellow label, with now legendary results.

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Orion Celebrates 24th Season with Benefit Afternoon Nov. 19
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, celebrates its 24th anniversary with a benefit performance and party Saturday, November 19 at 12 noon at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, Illinois. Proceeds will help support Orion's performances and outreach efforts to young musicians.

The event features a special concert by Orion in the setting of the historic Dunham Woods Riding Club, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. After the performance, guests enjoy lunch and have an opportunity to help choose encore performances of works Orion has performed by buying votes for their preferred selections. The musicians mingle and chat with guests in this intimate setting. This event offers Orion fans an extra chance to enjoy the Ensemble's music while supporting its work.

Orion's 2016-17 season, Miniatures and Masterworks, begins with "Collage of Colors" in September, with guest violist Stephen Boe joining Orion for works by Wintle, Zemlinsky and Mozart, and continues with "Serenade by Three: Orion Beginnings" in November, spotlighting Orion's original three members with works by Yadzinski, Granados, Khatchaturian, John Williams and Glick; "Connections" in March, welcoming back Stephen Boe for a program of Kritz, Mahler and Rebecca Clarke; and "Wit and Passion" in May, also featuring Boe for works by Jean Francaix and Brahms. Each concert program takes place at three locations: Geneva, Evanston and downtown Chicago, Il.

The Orion Ensemble's benefit takes place Saturday, November 19 at 12 noon at Dunham Woods Riding Club, 33w333 Army Trail, Dunham, Illinois. The requested donation is $75. For more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Tune in to KDFC Sunday to Hear Susan Graham at PBO's 2016 Gala Concert
If you missed Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's 30th Anniversary Gala and Baroque Fireworks Concert with Susan Graham last February, here's your chance to hear that concert in the comfort of your home. KDFC is broadcasting the live recording of this incredible concert this Sunday, September 11 at 8pm. Be sure to tune in to one of their three broadcast radio stations or click the live stream button:

Handel: Overture to the Occasional Oratorio
Handel: "Ariodante": Scherza infida
Handel: "Arianna": Mi lusingha il dolce affetto, and Stà nell'Ircana pietosa tana
Handel: Water Music

For more information, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Takacs Quartet Season-Long Residency at Cal Performances
Cal Performances at UC Berkeley welcomes back the Takács Quartet for a momentous series of six concerts, the complete string quartet cycle of Ludwig van Beethoven, performed over three weekends in Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA, on October 15–16; March 4–5, 2017; and April 8–9, 2017.

The performances coincide with the publication of Taka´cs' first violinist Edward Dusinberre's new book, Beethoven for a Later Age: Living with the String Quartets (University of Chicago Press), which explores both the history of the quartets and the Takacs work, interpreting them as an ensemble. Dusinberre's book is the inspiration behind Cal Performances' extensive residency, which will feature quartet members, scholars, and students, and is a significant part of the 2016/17 season's Berkeley RADICAL Immersion thematic strand of programming offering deep exploration of important composers and genres of artistic expression. Performances are Saturdays, October 15, March 4, and April 8 at 8pm; and Sundays, October 16, March 5, and April 9 at 3pm, with free pre-performance talks preceding each concert.

Tickets for the Taka´cs Quartet on Saturdays, October 15, March 4, and April 8 at 8pm; and Sundays, October 16, March 5, and April 9 at 3pm in Hertz Hall start at $92 (price subject to change). Half- price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at, and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Adam: La jolie fille de Gand, complete (CD review)

Andrew Mogrelia, Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Marco Polo 8.223772-73 (2-disc set).

People no doubt know French composer and music critic Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) far better for his classic ballet Giselle (1841) than for the work of this two-disc set, La jolie fille de Gand, written about the same time. So, why is this? Is La jolie that much inferior to Giselle that one of the pieces should continue as a staple of the classical repertoire while the other should fade into obscurity? The answer is simply, yes. Sometimes, the public is right. The listener comes away from Giselle humming memorable tunes. Just trying to remember anything at all from La jolie is a task, even though it is pleasant-enough music as you're listening to it.

This is not to suggest that there is anything unduly wrong with La jolie, however. On the contrary, Adam filled it with charming, agreeable music, almost all of it lighter than air fluff and wholly forgettable. Anyone who enjoys ballet or light classical music, though, will surely enjoy the piece. Still and all, a two-disc set of the complete ballet may endanger one's sugar intake considerably, or it might at least try one's patience. Perhaps it is a ballet better seen than listened to straight through or better taken in small doses, like from a single highlights disc.

The ballet-pantomime La jolie fille de Gand ("The Pretty Girl of Ghent") contains three acts and nine tableaux. With choreography by Ferdinand-Albert Decombe and a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Decombe, the work premiered on June 22, 1842 at the Theatre de l'Academie Royale de Musique, Paris.

Andrew Mogrelia
The story line should give you an idea of how deep the music's going to be. The plot, set in Ghent, Belgium, concerns a dancer named Beatrix, who is betrothed to Benedict, the nephew of a rich goldsmith. She is distracted, however, by the attentions of the Marquis of San Lucar. There follow scenes of conflict with both men, a series of dreams, and an attempted elopement. But, naturally, it all has a happy ending, and the proper girl and boy get to marry. I'm sorry. I tried to follow the plot line but I got bored. I figured I'd enjoy it more by just listening to the music and ignoring the story altogether. I suppose it would be even more appropriate to see it on stage some time, but that would seem almost impossible.

Anyway, Maestro Andrew Mogrelia (who specializes in ballet scores) and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (of which Mogrelia is now the Music Director and Principal Conductor) do a good job performing all this, and I suspect trying hard not to make it appear as lightweight as it seems. And thanks to the fine Marco Polo recording, the orchestra sounds splendid.

The sonics on this 2000 release are quite good, as I say. I liked the stability of the sound stage and the rock-solid imaging left, right, and center. Front-to-back depth sounds more limited, though, as does the deepest bass and the highest treble. Fortunately, the audio has plenty of mid-bass warmth and room resonance to satisfy fans of concert-hall acoustic ambiance in their recordings. Definition, too, is more than adequate, if not so transparent as some all-out demonstration-class discs, and dynamics are moderately robust.

This is a welcome set for a rainy afternoon with one's feet up on the coffee table. I just wouldn't expect more in the way of musical substance than the score can deliver.


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

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (CD review)

Also, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3; Ravel: Concerto for Left Hand. Julius Katchen, piano; Istvan Kertesz, London Symphony Orchestra. HDTT, remastered.

Julius Katchen (1926-1969) was an American concert pianist who died of cancer just a few months after recording the present album in 1968. One would never guess from the recording how ill he was; most of the music reveals the vigor and vitality of a man in more than good health. Yet, things happen. The celebrated Jewish-Hungarian conductor in the work, Istvan Kertesz (1929-1973), would himself succumb to a drowning accident a few years later. So, in a way, this is a sort of memorial to both artists and a fitting tribute to both their talents.

First up on the program is Rhapsody in Blue, which as you no doubt know bandleader Paul Whiteman persuaded American composer and pianist George Gershwin (1898-1937) to write back in 1924, suggesting he make a jazz-inflected showpiece for Whiteman and his orchestra. When Gershwin initially declined, saying he didn't know enough about orchestration to do the work justice, Whiteman assured him that he could get Ferde Grofe to arrange it for piano and orchestra. As everyone knows, Gershwin's fusion of classical and jazz became a musical phenomenon.

Katchen's version of the piece with the London Symphony may not be quite the lean, mean classical jazz Gershwin intended, though. Under Katchen and Kertesz, it's more a slightly jazzy classical piece. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's too sedate, too refined, too symphonic, and too somber, but it's close. I think it's just that Katchen was foremost a classical pianist and his naturally elegant style wasn't quite what Gershwin needed. Still, it's a pleasure listening to him play.

Julius Katchen
Next, we find the Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major (1930) by French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), which Ravel wrote for a pianist who had lost his right arm during the First World War. This one is more up to the style of Katchen and Kertesz. We have it here in one continuous movement, although Ravel once said it was really two connected movements. Whatever, Katchen and Kertesz navigate the somewhat less but still jazz-toned score with more comfort, more-inherent ease, than they managed in the Gershwin. Both men lend a good deal of weight and gravitas to the music without missing any of its rhythmic tonal colors or lush, lyrical qualities.

Finally, we get the Concerto No. 3 in C major (1921) by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). While its arrangement is in a traditional three movements, the second movement is a set of variations ranging from fairly slow to very fast, and the final movement is a brilliant display of virtuosity. Here, too, Katchen and Kertesz shine, with a particularly playful opening Allegro and a dazzling close.

Producer Ray Minshull and engineers Kenneth Wilkinson and Alec Rosner recorded the music for Decca at Kingsway Hall, London, in November 1968. HDTT remastered the album in 2016. The sonics are nicely warm and rounded, with a decent sense of depth and dimensionally. The engineers captured the ambience of Kingsway Hall quite realistically, too, although in terms of balance the piano seems a bit bigger, more forward, than it might appear in an actual concert. Upper mids are sometimes a tad rough as well, although it's not enough to warrant concern. It's a comfortable, enjoyable sound, sure to please most listeners.

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, September 3, 2016

Peter Sellars Directs Los Angeles Master Chorale Season Opening Production

From the creative mind of renowned director Peter Sellars comes his very first a cappella staging and most personal work to date, Orlando di Lasso's (1532-1594) emotionally powerful
Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter). Twenty-one Los Angeles Master Chorale singers conducted by Artistic Director Grant Gershon, transform this 60-minute sweeping a cappella Renaissance masterpiece - committed to memory and dramatically staged - into an overwhelmingly passionate performance piece. Lagrime di San Pietro depicts the seven stages of grief that Peter experienced after disavowing his knowledge of Jesus Christ on the day of his arrest and prior to his crucifixion.

Performance dates and times:
There will be two performances of Lagrime di San Pietro at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Each performance will run 60-minutes without an intermission:

Sat., Oct. 29, 2016 at 8 pm
Sun., Oct. 30, 2016 at 7 pm

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Ticket informaton:
Single tickets go on sale Tue., Sep. 6, 2016 at 10 am.

Tickets begin at $29 and can be purchased in person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office (Mon.-Sat., 10-6) or the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office (day of performance), by phone at 213-972-7282, or online at For disability access, call 213-972-0777.

--Gary Murphy Public Relations Consulting

World Premiere on Amazon Prime - Wildly Entertaining Great Kat's New Liszt
Great Kat's New Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2 Music Video - CD.

Hot Classical/Metal Female Shredder, The Great Kat Shreds BOTH Violin AND Guitar with her All-Male Stud Band, "Vlad the Impaler" & "Franz Liszt" on Liszt's famous Classical masterpiece "Hungarian Rhapsody #2"!

Free on Amazon Prime:

--Karen Thomas, Thomas PR

Announcing the Hermitage Piano Trio
Reference Recordings is delighted to announce signing the Hermitage Piano Trio to an exclusive recording contract for multiple albums. The members of the Trio are Misha Keylin, violin; Sergey Antonov, cello; and Ilya Kazantsev, piano.

The Trio's debut album will comprise the piano trios of Sergey Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G Minor; Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Opus 9; and Vocalise (world premiere recording of piano trio transcription by Julius Conus), to be recorded in 2017. States Reference Recordings' Executive Director Marcia Martin: "We are excited and honored to record the Hermitage Piano Trio, and we anticipate a long and rewarding collaboration." The album(s) will be recorded by RR's GRAMMY-winning engineer and Technical Director Keith O. Johnson and produced by the outstanding multi-GRAMMY-nominated team, Marina and Victor Ledin.

Descending from the great Russian musical tradition, the Hermitage Piano Trio is distinguished by its exuberant musicality, interpretative range, and sumptuous sound—attributes that Reference Recordings expects to be highly appealing to music lovers and audiophiles worldwide.  Following a recent performance, The Washington Post raved that "three of Russia's most spectacular young soloists… turned in a performance of such power and sweeping passion that it left you nearly out of breath."

For more information, visit

--Janice Mancuso - Media Relations

Philharmonia Baroque Wins Twice in SFCV's Best of the Bay
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale has had a wonderful year! And now we are honored to have been selected by voters in two categories in the San Francisco Classical Voice Best of the Bay contest: Best Early/Baroque Ensemble and Best Dance Performance (for our part in the Mark Morris Dance Group performances of "L'Allegro" at Cal Performances)

We'd like to thank everyone who voted for us and look forward to seeing our many patrons - whether you've been with us for 36 years or just bought your first ticket - at the upcoming 2016/17 season.

PBO is passionate, brilliant, and original. And so are our audiences. On behalf of music director Nicholas McGegan, thank you for allowing us to take you on truly unusual and exciting musical journeys. We hope you'll come back for more.

For more information, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

"The Elements" Showcased in Music Institute's Season Opener Sept. 24
The Music Institute of Chicago opens the 2016–17 season of its Faculty and Guest Artist Series with "The Elements," a program of works about or inspired by earth, water, air, fire, and spirit, Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

More than 20 members of the Music Institute's celebrated faculty, now numbering more than 150, perform a diverse program, including Music Institute Composer-in-Residence Mischa Zupko's Waves from "Shades of Grey" (water).

"The Elements" takes place Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at or 847.905.1500 ext. 108. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

The Crypt Sessions Presents Matt Haimovitz in Concert by Candlelight on September 23
On September 23rd, cellist Matt Haimovitz will give an intimate candlelight performance in the underground crypt beneath The Church of the Intercession in Harlem, NY, part of Unison Media's acclaimed Crypt Sessions concert series (as featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, NPR, WQXR, The Christian Science Monitor, Agence France-Presse, and more). The concert will feature selections from Bach's cello suites, as well as newly commissioned works by Philip Glass, Du Yun, Vijay Iyer, Roberto Sierra, and Luna Pearl Woolf all of which act as overtures to Bach's cello oeuvre. There will be a wine and cheese reception at 7PM before the concert at 8PM.

Tickets are $35 (including wine & cheese), with all proceeds going to the church.

More info is available at:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Fort Worth Opera Wraps-Up Million Dollar Summer; Exceeds Goal of $500,000 in Groundbreaking Gift Match Challenge
Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today the successful finale to their 90-day, million dollar gift match challenge, Million Dollar Summer. FWOpera's patrons united to support the local arts community throughout the campaign. The conclusion of this challenge coincides with the end of the company's fiscal year, August 31, and solidifies FWOpera's future to pioneer new operatic works that reflect the city's unique cultural mosaic.

FWOpera's success occurs in a climate where corporate support for the arts has proven challenging. FWOpera attributes the success of Million Dollar Summer to the city's residents, who stood united under their shared passion for the performing arts, including 100 percent participation for board and staff of this milestone campaign. Now that Million Dollar Summer has come to a close, the company boasts a 100 percent increase to its donor base. This increase in donor base and the participation in the campaign was made possible in large part by first time giving household, but the success didn't stop there. While FWOpera surpassed it's immediate goal with their forward thinking initiative, they have cultivated a new generation of audiences and patrons.

--Ryan Lathan, FWOpera

ASPECT Foundation Announces New York Debut Season
Making its home in New York for the first time since its inception, ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts presents a concert series which aims to establish and develop a recital format beyond the traditional classical performance.

"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. After its successful London run presenting various series such as "Composers on Composers," "Musical Capitals," "One Off," and "Great Muses," ASPECT Foundation finds a new locale at Columbia University's intimate The Italian Academy for the 2016/17 season. Guest speakers include Yale Assistant Professor (Adjunct) of Music History Paul Berry and British classical music radio broadcaster, composer, and author Stephen Johnson will lead the series' Illustrated Talks with others to be announced later in the season.

For more information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Lawrence Brownlee Announces "Larry's September Weight Loss Challenge & Autism Fundraiser"
The star tenor asks his friends and colleagues to donate to Autism research for every pound he loses during the month of September, in support of his son Caleb. See below for a note from Brownlee:

"As many of you know, my six-year-old son Caleb was diagnosed with Autism as a child, and while he is doing fantastically, I still believe it's important to raise awareness and research funds for Autism. My amazing father-in-law Kenny Wilson is going to do a Half-Ironman (1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run) in order to raise money for Autism Speaks, and I'd like to help!

Following Kenny's remarkable example, I've been working to lose weight this year - 30 pounds down already, and 15 more to go! For the month of September, I'm going to go through The Whole30 diet plan (, and I'd love to have your support!

I'm asking you to pledge to donate to Kenny for every pound I lose in September - if you pledge $5 per pound and I lose 5 pounds, then that's $25 to Autism research! You can join by filling out the form here:, and then following my progress on my Facebook Page ("

You can also just donate directly to Kenny on his fundraising page here:

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Los Angeles Master Chorale Receives Major Grant from The James Irvine Foundation
The Los Angeles Master Chorale announced today that The James Irvine Foundation has awarded a $450,000 Exploring Engagement Fund grant to support the Chorale's launch of Big Sing California that will culminate in June 2018. This two-year grant will support the Chorale's ongoing efforts to utilize state-of-the-art live-streaming technology to enable thousands of Californians to connect with others throughout the state for a shared singing experience, led by its Swan Family Artist-in-Residence and Grammy award-winning composer/conductor Eric Whitacre.

"We are honored and delighted and extremely thankful to The James Irvine Foundation," said Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Master Chorale's Artistic Director. "Our goal for the Big Sing California is simply to inspire people to tap into a gift each person is born with, namely, the ability to sing.  As one of the nation's most prominent choruses, the Master Chorale is taking a leadership role in creating the fertile environment in which the love of singing and the choral arts can grow and thrive."

--Gary W. Murphy, GM/PR

The Wallis Announces Full Schedule for WelcomeFest
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts announces the full schedule and new artist additions to the lineup for WelcomeFest, a two-day celebration of the performing arts taking place Saturday, September 10 from 2pm – 10pm and Sunday, September 11 from 10am – 2pm. WelcomeFest  will showcase many of the upcoming 2016/17 season's artists and other Los Angeles-based performers who will bring their work to the Beverly Hills campus. Performances and activities are free to the public. For a complete listing of events and up-to-the-minute information, please visit or join the WelcomeFest Facebook event.

Joining the WelcomeFest lineup is Syncopated Ladies, the female tap dance band who gained international recognition with their viral video featuring a performance to Beyonce's Formation; Venice, CA-born musician Tutu Sweeney, whose sound fuses soul, funk, disco and rock; a performance poetry project by Jacqueline Suskin that consists of composing one-of-a-kind poems on a manual typewriter; portrait and calligraphy sessions with artist Emily J. Snyder; an intimate tableaux and video projection installation exploring historic Los Angeles by experiential filmmaker Gina Marie Napolitan; a special screening of a Harold Lloyd film (to be announced) accompanied by pianist Michael D. Mortilla; and an ASL Storytelling Hour in American Sign Language led by Broadway's Sandra Mae Frank and Amelia Hensley (Spring Awakening) and actress Ipek Mehlum.

For more information, visit

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Fred Hellerman, Last Surviving Member of the Weavers, Dies
Fred Hellerman, a singer and composer who was the last surviving member of the iconic and influential folk music quartet the Weavers, has died.

The musician passed away on Thursday "after a long run of failing health" and was at "home and surrounded by family" when he died, his son Caleb Hellerman said on his Facebook page.
Fred Hellerman was 89 and lived in Weston, Connecticut.

Hellerman, Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, and Lee Hays formed the Weavers in the late 1940s and recorded many folk standards, such as "If I Had a Hammer," "On Top of Old Smoky," "Goodnight, Irene," "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (also known as "Wimoweh") and "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,"
Hellerman played guitar and sang for the group, which set the stage for a folk music wave in the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite the Weavers' popularity, the group had been targeted by anti-Communists and was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. "They were forced to take a hiatus from their recording career due to the blacklist, until their return for their iconic Christmas Eve 1955 concert at Carnegie Hall, according to CNN affiliate WCBS.

After Seeger left the Weavers in 1958, Gilbert, Hays and Hellerman went on with other singers until the group disbanded in 1964. After that, members reunited to perform. The Grammys gave the group a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and an article on its Web site called the group "seminal" and said the members "fought back against political intolerance."

"If this award to us has any message, it's that if you stay the course you can outlast your enemies with your honor and dignity intact," Hellerman said at the time.

Born in Brooklyn on May 13, 1927, Hellerman "first displayed his love for music by collaborating on stage plays in the Yiddish theater," WCBS said, citing Hellerman's son. He attended Brooklyn College and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, according to the Internet Movie Database. His bio said he taught himself to play guitar during his Coast Guard stint.

Hellerman was an arranger and songwriter for other performers. He produced Arlo Guthrie's 1967 record "Alice's Restaurant."

There won't be a funeral but a memorial service -- with music -- will be held in the next few months, Hellerman's son said.

Gilbert died on June 6, 2015; Seeger on January 27, 2014; and Hays on August 26, 1981.

--Joe Sterling, CNN

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.

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.

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, NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, 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.
The reader will find Classical Candor's Mission Statement, Staff Profiles, and contact information ( toward the bottom of each page.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Writer

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. 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 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. Most recently I’ve moved to my “ultimate system” consisting of a BlueSound Node streamer, an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a CD transport, Legacy Wavelet DAC/preamp/crossover, Tandberg 2016A and Legacy PowerBloc2 amps, and Legacy Signature SE speakers (biamped), all connected with decently made, no-frills cables. With the arrival of CD and higher resolution streaming, that is now the source for most of my listening.

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