Classical Music News of the Week, November 12, 2016

PBO Performs Handel's Joshua December 1-4

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale will present George Frideric Handel's rarely performed oratorio Joshua throughout the San Francisco Bay Area this December 1-4.

PBO sees it as essential to regularly include rarely performed Handel oratorios in its programming. Nicholas McGegan, a Baroque music scholar, is an adept interpreter of Handel oratorios and the Orchestra has performed eighteen of them to date including other rarities such as Semele, Jephtha, Belshazzar, and Athalia.

Chorale Director and PBO Scholar-in-Residence Bruce Lamott says, "Though rarely performed today, Joshua was popular with audiences long after Handel's death. Its chorus "See, the conquering hero" became one of his most memorable tunes. The orchestration is one of Handel's most colorful, as well, with both trumpets and horns, flutes and oboes. Joshua features powerful and expressive choruses voicing the triumphs and emotions of the post-exodus Israelites."

Guest artists for this program include tenor Thomas Cooley as Joshua, countertenor Daniel Taylor as Othiniel, baritone William Berger as Caleb, soprano Yulia Van Doren as Achsah, and soprano Gabrielle Haigh with 24 voices from the Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, performing the chorus roles.

See Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale perform Handel's Joshua throughout the San Francisco Bay Area December 1-4. Programs take place Thursday, December 1 at 7 pm at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco; Friday, December 2 at 7:30 pm at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto; Saturday, December 3 at 7:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley; and Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 pm at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in Lafayette.

Tickets for the Berkeley and Lafayette concerts will only be available at the door on the day of the performances. Tickets for the San Francisco and Palo Alto concerts are available at or call 415-392-4400. Prices range from $27 to $108.

For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Hungarian Pianist and Conductor Zoltan Kocsis Dies at Age 64
Zoltan Kocsis, a famed pianist and conductor and musical director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, has died at age 64. The Philharmonic said Kocsis died Sunday afternoon. No specific cause of death was given, but Kocsis underwent major heart surgery in 2012.

Last month, the orchestra announced that he was suffering from poor health and, following doctors' orders, cancelling most of his concerts to rest and recuperate. "We announce with deep mourning that Zoltan Kocsis died this afternoon after a long illness borne with dignity," the Philharmonic said in a statement. "The vacuum he leaves is immeasurable."

Hungary's Ministry of Human Resources, which oversees cultural affairs, said Kocsis, who also was a composer and arranger, had been "a giant already in life" and his death was an "irreplaceable loss for Hungarian culture and contemporary music history." Kocsis founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 1983 with Ivan Fischer and became musical director of the Philharmonic in 1997.

"Zoltan Kocsis was a musical giant, one of the rare geniuses," Fischer said on his Facebook page. "His impact on his whole generation is immeasurable."

For more information, visit

--Pablo Gorondi, AP

National Philharmonic Presents Handel's Messiah at Strathmore
Hear the genius of Handel as the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale perform his most beloved oratorio, the Messiah, on Saturday, December 17 at 8pm and Sunday, December 18 at 3pm at the Music Center at Strathmore. Led by Artistic Director Stan Engebretson, the concert will feature the National Philharmonic's nearly 200 voice all-volunteer Chorale, as well as soloists Danielle Talamantes (soprano); Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano); Matthew Smith (tenor); and Christòpheren Nomura (baritone).

Handel's Messiah, among the most popular works in Western choral literature, was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The composer's most famous work is divided into three parts that address specific events in the life of Christ. Part one is primarily concerned with the Advent and Christmas stories; part two chronicles Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension and commitment to spreading the Christian message; and part three is based primarily upon the events chronicled in the Revelation of St. John. The National Philharmonic and Chorale, in addition to a stellar cast of soloists, will perform the complete work, which includes such favorites as "The Trumpet Shall Sound," "And the Glory of the Lord," and, of course, the famous "Hallelujah Chorus."

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on December 17 and at 1:45 pm on December 18 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's Messiah concerts on December 17 and 18, please visit or call the box office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets start from $28. Kids 7-17 are FREE through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program (sponsored by The Gazette). ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone.

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

December Concerts at 92nd Street Y
Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Art of the Guitar
Ana Vidovic, guitar

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 8:30 PM
92Y - Buttenwieser Hall, NYC
Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists
Mishka Rushdie Momen, piano (92Y debut)

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 8 PM
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Masters of the Keyboard
Julia Hsu (92Y debut) & Peter Serkin, piano four-hands

For further information or tickets, call 212-415-5500 or visit

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

Four Premieres by Award-winning Composer Debra Kaye
Award winning composer Debra Kaye is celebrating the season with the premieres of four new works, Mouth of the Sky and The Dance the Turtle Dreamed from Kaye's String Quartet No. 1, presented by the New York Composers Circle, Encountering Lorca for string orchestra presented by Composers Concordance, and Ikarus Among the Stars for orchestra commissioned by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. In addition to her compositions, Kaye's busy schedule this season will include creating a series of pieces for the New Music Box blog.

Hailed as "a unique voice in American music, transcendent...witty... colorful...profound," Debra Kaye is a star whose brilliance continues to grow. Her body of work blends her deep classical roots with a wide range of influences including jazz, world music, folk, experimental improvisation, world events and sounds of daily life. Kaye's catalogue of works includes close to 40 chamber music, art songs, choral and theatrical compositions, and continues to expand through her steady stream of commissions.

--Genevieve Spielberg Inc.

Berkeley Symphony and Guest Conductor Elim Chan Perform U.S. Premiere of MacMillan's Symphony No. 4 Dec. 8
Guest conductor Elim Chan makes her Bay Area debut leading Berkeley Symphony in the U.S. premiere of James MacMillan's Symphony No. 4, a Berkeley Symphony co-commission, and Shai Wosner is soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 on Thursday, December 8 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro has announced that she is withdrawing from the concert. The MacMillan work is a co-commission by Berkeley Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the Berkeley Symphony concert December 8 are priced at $15 to $74 and are available at or by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

--Jean Shirk Media

One Found Sound Presents Copland's Quiet City
One Found Sound, a chamber orchestra that performs without a conductor, continues its 2016-2017 season on Friday, December 9 with a program highlighted by Copland's rarely-performed Quiet City for English horn, trumpet and orchestra.

Shining a light on the individual talents from within the ensemble, One Found Sound will feature orchestra members Jesse Barrett (English horn) and Brad Hogarth (trumpet) as soloists for this work. The program also showcases the combined wind and brass sections of the orchestra in George Enescu's Decet for Winds, Op. 14 with Kodály's Dances of Galánta rounding out the evening. Hosted at Heron Arts, the concert will be performed in conjunction with a sneak preview of the Beehive Society's latest art installation scheduled for launch on December 10, 2016.

Friday, December 9, 8:00 p.m., Heron Arts (7 Heron Street, San Francisco, CA)
Single tickets are $20 or $45 and can be purchased through

--Brenden Guy PR

Cal Performances Presents Kronos Quartet, December 3
Cal Performances welcomes back the Kronos Quartet for a concert featuring three works by composers from Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, on Saturday, December 3, at 8pm in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA.

Through its "Fifty for the Future" initiative, Kronos is commissioning a collection of 50 new works—10 per year for five years—from an eclectic group of 50 composers (25 men and 25 women); the new works explore contemporary approaches to the string quartet, designed for student players and emerging professional ensembles. Cal Performances is a major project partner for "Fifty for the Future," which aligns closely with its Berkeley RADICAL initiative to cultivate artistic literacy in future generations.

Tickets for Kronos Quartet, "Fifty for the Future" on Saturday, December 3 at 8pm in Zellerbach Hall range from $36–$68 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.

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa