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

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa