Mozert: Concertina in Absentia non Grata (HSALTPTR review)

Grover Cleveland Alexander, mezzo-soprano; Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III, Botloe's Green-Durbridge Redmarley Municipal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choral Society. Glyptograph Records of East Angelia Township GREAT-112233.

Astrobiologist, composer, and chocolatier Lillian Arlene Leonardo de Capistrano Mozert, the Lesser (1738-1744), affectionately known as "Lenni" to his friends, more or less made a career of writing concertinas, ocarinas, and bandoneóns, so it's no wonder Glyptograph Records remastered one of his best compositions: the Concertina in Absentia non Grata, Op. 1, WPA1934, BMWM3, recorded in 1737 by the noted Sumerian conductor Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III leading the beloved Botloe's Green-Durbridge Redmarley Municipal Philharmonic and Choral Society. It was about time this classic recording got a classy new remastering.

Young Mozert wrote the Concertina in 1732, and it became his single biggest hit. The fact that it was his only hit and that no one outside his family ever heard it is beside the point. Upon its completion, Mozert gave up the music business entirely and became an attic salesman. When asked "Why attics," Mozert replied, "Because I've always believed in starting at the top."

In any case, while busying himself with the dialects of ancient Greek attics, Mozert still found time to write several notable tunes, like the familiar cult favorites we all know: "Sam and Janet Evening," "She Rolled Her Big Blue Eyes at Me, So I Picked Them Up and Rolled Them Back to Her," and the theme music for the off-Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh, "I Only Have Ice for You." Nevertheless, he found no joy in popular songwriting and continued his work upstairs.

The Concertina certainly needs no introduction. Folks have been playing it, humming it, strumming it, and gumming it for well-nigh a generation, and Maestro Barnstable's interpretation couldn't have come sooner. The piece begins with an extended arpeggio de gramma, a chord lesson so protracted it rolls over the listener like a splashy ocean wave, here played by Atlantean pianist Austin Tayschious with such gay abandon it must have soaked the first nine rows. That's followed by a brief vocal interlude, Tempo Fugit, sung by counter-soprano Gay Abandon, who momentarily stays the onslaught of undulating roil.

Lft. Sir Cedric Etc. Etc.
It's really quite a magnificent performance, highlighted by Maestro Barnstable's magisterial management of the second-movement Orchestral Manoeuvres, which the conductor takes at a leisurely lentus poco allongo, with clarinetist Nino Nontroppo barely keeping stride. The entire work makes for an enjoyable two and a half minutes of entertainment.

Coupled with the Concertina is the midnight contrario for contrary voices and pennywhistle Longinus en Dies Carpe ("Longevity in the Day of the Carp") by Antarctican native, composer, and explorer Archibald Pate (b. 2003). Unfortunately, the length of the piece precluded its inclusion on the disc itself, so the folks at Glyptograph Records make it available on a second disc, sold separately. I did not get to hear it.

Finally, as a bonus item, the producers offer the complete, uncut 1939 radio broadcast of Gone with the Wind ("Perit cum Ventus"), starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Victor Jory, and, of course, the incomparable George Reeves. I understand that same year MGM released a movie version of Margaret Mitchell's popular novel, but I'm not sure how many people actually saw it before it blew away in the wind. In any case, the movie could not possibly have equalled the opulent splendor of the radio show.

Producer Phil E. Minyon and former Audio magazine chief engineer Dr. Lirpa Loof remastered the 1843 recording for playback via HSALTPTR technology (Heterogeneous Superordinate Audiophile Long-Playing Telephonic Phonographic Tectonic Record). Moreover, Glyptograph technicians pressed the disc on 99 and 44/100% pure, organic, vegan vinyl for the best possible sound reproduction. As you no doubt know, HSALPPR discs are capable of holding up to 132 tracks of information (most of it text) for not only front, back, and side speakers but floor, ceiling, and places in-between as well. I listened in the single-channel monaural mode.

The sonics obtained at the extreme high end (above 50K Hz) sound creamy smooth; the lower-to-mid highs (8K to 49.99K Hz) display a more peaches-and-yogurt texture; the middle-to-upper highs (2K to 7.99K Hz) a rather coarse, caramel impression; the lower midrange (501 to 1.99K Hz) a definite soufflé-like element; the upper bass (75.3 to 500 Hz) an earthy, chocolatey flavor; and the lower bass (0 to 75.2 Hz) a crisp, hearty, high-ho-Silver sensation of oatmeal on a cold winter's morning. In fact, the listener will doubtless find the recording better tasting than sounding.

JJP

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

Verdi: Requiem (CD review)

Angela Gheorghiu, Daniela Barcellona, Roberto Alagna, and Julian Konstantinov, soloists; Claudio Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Warner Classics 5571682 (2-disc set).

This recording, originally released by EMI and now available from Warner Classics, was, I believe, Abbado's third rendering of Verdi's Requiem Mass on disc, and I suppose the third time's the charm. His previous two efforts were on DG and with different orchestras, but as memory serves me they are very much of a kind.

Abbado appears to see the work as just what it is, a Celebration Mass for the dead, and as such he fills it not only with the powerful Wrath of God but with gentle and comforting words of mercy and forgiveness, too. It is in these quieter, calmer moments of repose that I found Abbado's vision especially moving, a sweeter, slower-paced, more contemplative reading than those of some of his rivals, yet just as gripping. You might say he follows the advice of many critics by not making the piece sound too much like a large-scale grand opera.

Claudio Abbado
There is no questioning the glory and grandeur of the Berlin Philharmonic or the choirs involved, who do complete justice to the glory and grandeur of Verdi's score. Nor do Abbado's soloists let us down: Angela Gheorghiu, Daniela Barcellona, Roberto Alagna, and Julian Konstantinov sing well, although here the listener may have his or her own favorites and find this quartet a tad underpowered.

Of course, there are still a couple of good alternative accounts to contend with. One is Carlo Maria Giulini's classic version with the Philharmonia (EMI), imbued as it is with just the kind of operatic overtones that Verdi didn't particularly want conductors to impose on the work. Personally, I like Giulini's rendition for that very reason. Another is John Eliot Gardiner's more highly charged realization with his period-instrument band, the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, on Philips. This latter interpretation may bring with it a tad too much dynamic power and intensity, but it also remains among my favorites.

Back to Abbado's account: the sonics, recorded live over two nights in January 2001, with the maestro's imposing Berlin forces, sound at once clean and clear, yet sometimes at the expense of being almost too fierce in the treble. The soloists also seem a bit too forward at times, and deepest bass can occasionally seem lacking. Nevertheless, as I've already said, the singers are splendid, the orchestra is as glorious as ever, and the lucidity of the sound is generally impressive, so no one should really fear buying the set on aural grounds just because it's live. What's more, the audience is relatively silent throughout the proceedings, so there is another worry assuaged

 I quite enjoyed this release.

JJP

To listen to a couple of brief excerpts from this album, click on the forward arrow:


Young: The Uninvited (CD review)

Also, The Greatest Show on Earth; Gulliver's Travels; Bright Leaf. William Stromberg, Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Naxos 8.573368.

During the 1990's Naxos recorded a number of film scores with William Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, packaging them under their full-price Marco Polo label. More recently, now that they discontinued the Marco Polo line, the folks at Naxos have been re-releasing the material under their own lower-price label. In the case of the present disc, Naxos originally coupled Victor Young's score for the 1944 ghost movie The Uninvited with several other horror-movie scores by different composers under the title "Murder and Mayhem." Now, they have repackaged The Uninvited with three other pieces of music by Victor Young--The Greatest Show on EarthGulliver's Travels and Bright Leaf--making it all-Young album. Whatever, then as now, it's the score to The Uninvited that steals the show.

The Uninvited holds the distinction of being one of the first, maybe the first, serious ghost story the movies ever saw. Up until 1944 movies about ghosts were usually relegated to the area of comedy; so The Uninvited was something of a novelty at the time. More important, it continues to hold up as one of the best ghost stories ever made. Starring Ray Milland as a music composer, Ruth Hussey as his sister, and Gail Russell as a young woman the composer falls in love with, the movie relates the story of the brother and sister buying an old house on the coast of Cornwall, England, that comes complete with a nightly wailing ghost. No monsters, no blood, no gore, just tension and suspense as things unseen become more terrifying for the parties involved. Adding to the film's creepy, gothic atmosphere is Victor Young's equally forbidding yet hauntingly beautiful film score, here reconstructed by John Morgan (who has since gone on to form his own company, Tribute Film Classics).

Victory Young (1900-1956) was one of a handful of early film composers who helped shape the Hollywood music scene. Among his other credits you might recognize are Artists and Models, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Paleface, Samson and Delilah, The Quiet Man, Shane, The Country Girl, and The Conqueror. In all, the Academy nominated Young for twenty-two Oscars, winning for Around the World in Eighty Days. Of all of them, The Uninvited remains my favorite.

William Stromberg
Of course, Young's score for The Uninvited is vividly expressive and picturesque, and the suite Morgan prepared gives you an idea of the program: "Prelude," "Squirrel Chase," "The Village," "The Sobbing Ghost," "Sunday Morning--Stella's Emotions," "The Cliff," "Grandfather and the Cliff," and "End of Ghost--Finale." However, the real star of the show is the serenade theme music "Stella by Starlight." Although it appears several times in the movie (and here in the suite) in a purely orchestral arrangement, it acquired lyrics (by Ned Washington) after the release of the film and became a hit tune (the Web site jazzstandards.com ranking it as the tenth most-popular ballad of all time, with recordings of it by everyone from Harry James and Frank Sinatra to Charlie Parker, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole).

"The Prelude" sets the tone of the film and introduces us to the main theme. "The Squirrel Chase" is lively; "The Village" depicts the sleepy little town not far from the house; "The Sobbing Ghost" effectively introduces a dose of melodrama into the proceedings; "Sunday Morning" is aptly romantic and again provides the "Stella" theme; "The Cliff" is where the composer fully fleshes out the "Stella" music; "Grandfather and the Cliff" continues the story's plot and action; and the "End of Ghost" sequence is the most overtly "ghostly" music of the score, although the mood doesn't last long.

So, how does the score to The Uninvited hold up in Morgan's arrangement and under Stromberg's guidance? Very well, indeed. For those listeners worried that perhaps a Russian orchestra would not capture the spirit and idioms of movie music, I can assure you the opposite is true. They play with a delicacy and feel for the intricacies of the score as well as one could want. And the ensemble sound wonderfully smooth and accomplished, lush and luxuriant, with Stromberg keeping the action moving at a healthy clip.

The three accompanying scores aren't bad, either. Things begin with the Prelude (March) to what was probably the most undeserved Best-Picture winner in the history of the Academy Awards, The Greatest Show on Earth. The music sounds appropriately gaudy and garish. After that is the centerpiece reviewed above, followed by a five-movement suite from Gulliver's Travels (1939), reconstructed by John Morgan. Under Stromberg's direction, it's cheerful and animated. The program concludes with an eight-movement suite from Bright Leaf (1950), with orchestration by Leo Shuken and Sidney Cutner, the music measured and thoughtful. Stromberg brings all of this off about as well as one could expect, although, to be honest, the music is not particularly great and not nearly as memorable, colorful, or melodic as that from The Uninvited.

The current disc joins several others in the Naxos line of movie music from Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony, all of them including extensive booklet notes (although in a rather tiny type font that may strain some eyes; I know it did mine).

Producer Betta International and engineers Edvard Shakhnazarian and Vitaly Ivano recorded the music at the Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, in April 1997. Previously issued on the Marco Polo label, Naxos reissued the material in 2016. The sound is typical of this source, big and robust, if a little close. The stereo spread is notably wide, with dynamics consistent with an orchestra maybe a bit farther away. Instruments appear well defined without being bright or forward. The piano sections sound well integrated with the orchestra. In all, it's a warm, moderately resonant, and reasonably well detailed recording that is quite pleasing.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, March 26, 2016

ABS Summer Festival & Academy

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

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

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

For a full listing of events and ticket information, visit http://americanbach.org/sfbachfestival/index.html

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.92Y.org

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit http://www.americanpianists.org/

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit TheWallis.org

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

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

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

For more information about New England Conservatory: http://necmusic.edu/
For more information about the Avery Fisher Career Grants: http://www.aboutlincolncenter.org/programs/program-avery-fisher-artist-program/the-avery-fisher-career-grants

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi

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

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

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

For more information, visit https://uwworldseries.org/

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit http://lcgreatperformers.org/seasons/2015-16/emerson-string-quartet-apr-07

--Hanna Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

To Download, or Not to Download: That Is the Question

Reviewers these days face the same question most listeners do: Should we download music for listening and review or stick to the physical disc?

For me, I will choose the physical disc, and I plan to do so into the foreseeable future. Let me explain why.

Certainly, the way people acquire, store, and listen to music has changed dramatically over the past few decades. We would not be having this discussion at the moment if it weren't for the Internet, and public access to the Internet is a relatively recent development. I read just the other day that over a third of computer bandwidth worldwide is devoted to downloading files (and a lot of it pirated). More important, most of this downloading involves music and videos. Not that I'm suggesting that many classical-music listeners are pirating music; I know that classical listeners are more ethical than that. But if the young people I talk to are any indication, the idea of downloading files via torrent sites is so commonplace anymore, few people even think of it as unethical. Nevertheless, I digress; let's confine this topic to the legal downloading of music for sale from reputable sites.

Now, to my point. The way I see it, classical-music listeners who download material legitimately do it for one or more of several reasons: (1) They see it as a more economical way of obtaining the music they love, since record companies have wisely decided to give listeners a price break for downloads. (2) They see it as a more convenient way of storing their music; that is, putting it all on a hard disc, a memory card, a CD in a slim-line case, etc. Or, (3), they see it as a way of obtaining an even higher-quality recording than CD's, SACD's, or Blu-ray discs currently can afford them; for example, there are companies like HDTT--High Definition Tape Transfers--that offer FLAC downloads, among other formats, that may come closer to the sound of a master tape than even the best CD's can achieve.

Be that as it may, there are several drawbacks to downloading that I have yet to overcome. First, for me, economics do not play a part in the picture. If I want a piece of music badly enough and don't want to fork over the full asking price, I might look for it used on physical disc.

Second, the assumed convenience of downloading is not a factor for me, either; indeed, it's something of a disadvantage. In order for me to store music digitally, I would have to set up some sort of computer system either in my living room with my stereo equipment or in my upstairs computer room connected to my living room. Neither of these alternatives interests me: the first method is too costly and the second is too awkward. Besides, I really do want to own the physical product. I want to hold the disc and the case in my hand and know they are safe from computer crashes or accidental deletion. I want to have a booklet to read and track titles and timings at my fingertips, not on a computer screen, if at all.

Of course, I could always legitimately download music and burn it myself to a CD. Then I could find and print up the artwork, track information, and booklet. But, frankly, that sounds like too much bother, and the results would be nowhere near the professional quality the record companies produce.

Third, there just aren't enough record companies offering better-than-CD quality sound in their downloads. It would not be worth my while nor worth the hit on my pocketbook to invest in new equipment simply to acquire a meager few audiophile recordings.

People have also asked me if I intend to digitize my record collection, that is, to copy and transfer every album I own to a hard drive. I tell them no; not only do I have no desire to do so for the reasons stated above, but I have thousands of record albums, and I do not propose to spend the rest of my life working on so massive and unrewarding a project.

OK, I hear some readers say, he's just old-fashioned and behind the times. He'll probably have to give in eventually because record companies may not always be offering physical product. A fair-enough assessment, I admit. However, I own two desktop computers, two Galaxy smartphones, an iPad, the aforementioned above-average stereo system, and a separate 7.1-channel surround-sound home theater. Plus, I subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, MHz Choice, HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, and I use an LG washing machine and dryer with more lights, dials, buttons, and knobs on them than the cockpit of a 747. So it's not as though I'm completely tech-challenged or averse to modernity.

Yet I can also understand the point of view of the record companies. They see a huge chunk of their profits siphoned off by pirating, so they're trying to make do as best they can by offering their product at a cheaper price through downloads. I can also understand their wanting reviewers to download and review their material rather than sending out physical discs because it's more cost effective for them.

Still, I will resist this new direction the record industry is taking until I cannot do so any longer. At that point, I may have to close down Classical Candor. Until then, though, let's all continue our happy listening, whatever our inclinations on the matter may be.

JJP

Beethoven: Triple Concerto (CD review)

Also, The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Egmont Overture, Coriolan Overture. Giuliano Carmignola, violin; Sol Gabetta, cello; Dejan Lazic, piano. Giovanni Antonini, Kammerorchester Basil. Sony Classical 88883763622.

For years, critics have been putting down Beethoven's Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano, and Orchestra in C Major, Op. 56 "Triple Concerto" as being lightweight fluff, and for as many years audiences have been loving the work. Of course, it takes a talented group of musicians to pull it off successfully, and on this 2016 Sony release we get some of the best musicians in the business with Giuliano Carmignola, violin; Sol Gabetta, cello; and Dejan Lazic, piano; with Maestro Giovanni Antonini leading the Basil Chamber Orchestra.

Although Beethoven's Triple Concerto (1804) never impressed critics as much as his violin and piano concertos did, concertgoers have long enjoyed it for its delicious melodies and memorable tunes, especially its soaring first movement and its sweet Largo. The music, as you probably know, is a kind of orchestrated chamber trio, a sinfonia concertante where the several instruments oppose the orchestra and each other, a style that had passed out of vogue by Beethoven's time but one into which Beethoven injected new life.

As I say, it takes three really accomplished players to set any new recording of the Triple Concerto apart, and Carmignola, Gabetta, and Lazic accomplish this with their easy demeanor. Their rendition is expressive and happy without being in the least bit over driven, fast, or rushed. Indeed, their performance styles seem perfectly matched to produce optimal results, the suave, subtle nuances of their playing effectively setting off each performer from the others.

Giuliano Carmignola
Would I suggest that the current trio outpace the justly famous partnership of David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Sviatoslav Richter on EMI/Warner? No, certainly not; that recording may be a touchstone for decades to come. Nor can the fine work of Maestro Antonini and the Basil Chamber Orchestra match Herbert von Karajan and the mighty Berlin Philharmonic. But, if anything, this newer entry is a more intimate, more affectionately communicative effort.

With Carmignola, Gabetta, and Lazic we get a greater sense of a chamber group, with the orchestra almost an afterthought. The performance and sound frequently reminded me of the chamber music of Schubert: friendly, good-natured, playful, and melodic.

While it perhaps doesn't have the authoritative, magisterial stamp of Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and Richter, the present rendition is surely as listenable, as pleasurable, and as carefree in its own way.

Now, since the Triple Concerto is not a very long work, the album's producers have filled out the disc with three other things, Beethoven overtures, which bookend the concerto. The Creatures of Prometheus, the Egmont, and the Coriolan Overtures sound elegant, polished, and heroic. They make lively accompaniment to the main show.

Andreas Neubronner and Markus Heiland of Tritonus Musikproduktion produced, mastered, and edited the album, recording it at the Philharmonie, Luxembourg in June 2013. The sound is reasonably dynamic, both in its range from softest to loudest notes and in its impact. Yet it doesn't give up much in the way of a natural response, either; it provides a warm, smooth sonic impression, set in a modestly resonant acoustic. The instruments appear well balanced with one another and with the orchestra, not too close or too highlighted, so the whole production is lifelike, even if it never achieves an ultimate transparency.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, March 19, 2016

Scott Yoo, New Artistic Director of Mexico City Philharmonic, Leads Summer Festival in California

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, FESTIVAL MOZAIC transforms the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture. July 13-24, 2016, Music Director Scott Yoo will lead a group of more than 60 visiting artists gathered from top orchestras and chamber ensembles from around the world in performances in scenic venues all over picturesque San Luis Obispo County. Scott Yoo, conductor and violinist, was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic.

Conveniently located on the coast just off iconic Highway 1 –  just three hours from the Bay Area and just three hours from downtown Los Angeles – this region is home to the town of San Luis Obispo, (named  "Happiest City in North America" by National Geographic and Oprah Winfrey) and Paso Robles (named "2013 Wine Region of the Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine).

San Luis Obispo County (or SLO, as the locals call it) has a pleasing mix of farm-to-table bistros, art galleries, boutique shopping, hiking trails and seaside activities, and of course, wine tasting.  It is into this comfortable, captivating ambiance that the musicians of FESTIVAL MOZAIC will bring their international-caliber artistry, celebrating the works of composers both familiar and out-of-the-ordinary. With 20 events in 11 different venues, the Festival offers something for every kind of music lover and provides an welcoming and authentic SLO experience offering the best in culinary, coastal and cultural life.

The Festival will present 20+ events, in four different series in 14 venues.

The festival has a strong tradition of presenting emerging artists early in their careers alongside well-respected professionals. This summer's festival will feature players from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony and a host of other top ensembles across the country.

Subscription Tickets are on sale March 15. Individual tickets are on sale May 1. Tickets may be ordered by calling (805) 781-3009 / (877) 881-8899 or online at www.festivalmozaic.com.

For complete informaiton, visit www.festivalmozaic.com

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Jazz Bakery Movable Feast & The Wallis Present The Kenny Barron Trio on April 16
American jazz legend and nine-time Grammy Award-nominated master jazz pianist Kenny Barron brings his longstanding trio to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8:30pm for a singular evening of jazz, presented in conjunction with The Jazz Bakery Movable Feast. Honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize his audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms, inspiring the Los Angeles Times to name him "one of the top jazz pianists in the world" and Jazz Weekly to call him "the most lyrical piano player of our time." The Kenny Barron Trio features Barron on piano, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Tickets are now available for purchase at TheWallis.org.

"Kenny is truly one of the greats," said Paul Crewes, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts' new Artistic Director who takes the reins full time in April 2016. "We are thrilled to welcome him, along with Kiyoshi and Jonathan, to The Wallis stage. We are equally thrilled to welcome for the first time the amazing Jazz Bakery as new artistic partners."

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Single tickets: $25 – $55
Online – TheWallis.org
By Phone – 310.746.4000
Box Office – Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Gil Shaham performs JS Bach's Six Sonatas & Partitas with films by David Michalek April 14 in Zellerbach Hall
Violinist Gil Shaham performs J.S. Bach's complete works for solo violin, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001-06, in Six Solos, with films created by photographer and video artist David Michalek and co-commissioned by Cal Performances, on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus in Berkeley, CA.

Shaham is acknowledged as one of the foremost violinists performing today, and many regard J.S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin as the pinnacle of musical achievement, among the composer's most demanding and emotionally penetrating works. After listening to and studying them, and playing them privately for over 30 years, Shaham recorded the complete unaccompanied sonatas and partitas for a 2015 release, and has been performing them with Michalek's films, inspired by and created to accompany the works, in selected cities. The Baltimore Sun reported: "It's hardly news that Shaham is an impeccable violinist, one capable of bringing out the mechanics and the majesty of Bach in equal measure. Still, it was great to be startled all over again by the brilliance of his playing, the penetrating power of his interpretations."

Tickets for Gil Shaham in Bach: Six Solos with films by David Michalek on Thursday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley range from $36.00 to $86.00 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 calperformances.org, and at the door. For more information about discounts, visit calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php.

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

Wainwright's Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert Added to Montreal Jazz Fest
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto, will welcome Rufus Wainwright to its 37th Edition, as he presents the Montreal premiere of Prima Donna: A Symphonic Visual Concert on July 2nd and 3rd at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in the Place des Arts.  An artist accustomed to doing things on a grand scale, Wainwright brings his memorable work Prima Donna to new life in a symphonic visual evening residing at the crossroads of lyric opera, cinema and symphonic pop.
                                                                                                                                               
Prima Donna relates the story of the world's most acclaimed soprano, Régine Saint-Laurent, as inspired by soprano Maria Callas and explores the themes of doubt, old age and art. In part one, Prima Donna is presented as a concert adaptation of the opera, with an orchestra led by American conductor Jayce Ogren, featuring soprano Lyne Fortin, tenor Antonio Figueroa and American soprano Kathryn Guthrie. The performance is accompanied by the artists' new film installation of the work, directed by Francesco Vezzoli, with pioneering American artist Cindy Sherman playing Maria Callas.

In part two, Wainwright will present symphonic arrangements of his greatest hits on piano accompanied by orchestra, performing favorites including "April Fools," "Little Sister," "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," and "Oh What a World."

July 2 & 3 at 7:30 PM
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier - Place des Arts
175 Ste. Catherine St. West
Montreal Canada

For more information, visit http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/program/concert.aspx?id=12187

--Liza Prijatel, Rebecca Davis PR

Gargoyle Ensemble to Forge "French Connections" at Chicago Concerts Apr 10 & 30
The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, which has been commissioning a whirlwind of new compositions and arrangements for their unusual instrumentation, will give the Chicago premiere of an organ and brass arrangement of late-Romantic French composer Félix-Alexandre Guilmant's Symphony No. 1, Op. 42, for organ and orchestra at their April concerts. Arranger is New England-based composer Craig Garner.

The concert program,"French Connections: Music of Guilmant, Ravel, and Widor," includes Garner's organ and brass arrangement of Maurice Ravel's impressionistic "Pavane pour une infante défunte"; Charles-Marie Widor's "Salvum fac populum tuum" (Save our people), Op. 84, for brass, drum, and organ; and French Baroque composer-organist Louis Marchand's "Grand Dialogue in C" for brass and organ.

Concertgoers will also hear Carlyle Sharpe's "Prelude, Elegy, and Scherzo," a Chicago Gargoyle commission that received its world-premiere recording on the Gargoyle's critically acclaimed debut CD, "Flourishes, Tales and Symphonies," released in December on the MSR Classics label.

The program's final piece will be Michael Burkhardt's organ and brass arrangement of the hymn "You Call Us, Lord, to Be," based on a Welsh folk tune.

The ensemble will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard St., Chicago; and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at St. John Cantius Church, 825 N. Carpenter Street, Chicago. Tickets, which are $20 for adult general admission and $10 for students, are available at gargoylebrass.com.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

NEC Competition Wins and New Appointment Announcements
Cellist Thomas Mesa, New England Conservatory preparatory alumnus, wins the Senior Division First Place at Sphinx Competition.
NEC students win the top three prizes at the Schadt String Competition.
American Academy of Arts and Letters inducts NEC alum David Rakowski and awards the Charles Ives Scholarship to NEC senior Sonnet Swire.
NEC alum Megan Henderson is anmed new Music Director of Revels.

Read all the recent NEC news at http://necmusic.edu/

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Media Relations

Coming Up at Weill Hall, Green Music Center
James Ehnes, violin; Orion Weiss, piano
Sat, March 19 at 7:30 pm

Acoustic Africa, featuring Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela
Sun, Mar 20 at 7:00 pm

Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal
Kent Nagano, conductor; Daniil Trfonov, piano
Fri, March 25 at 8 pm

Richard Glazier
Sat, March 26 at 7:30 pm

Andre Watts, piano
Fri, April 1 at 7:30 pm

Weill Hall, Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

For more information, visit gmc.sonoma.edu

--Green Music Center

The Crypt Sessions 2016 Season
We're excited and honored to announce the first full season of the Crypt Sessions, presented by Unison Media and the Church of the Intercession, and sponsored by Yamaha. The performances will take place in the magnificent Crypt Chapel of the Church of the Intercession, Harlem, NY, and will feature an extraordinary lineup of artists: Alexandre Tharaud, Matt Haimovitz, The Attacca Quartet, Christina & Michelle Naughton, Gregg Kallor, Di Wu & Adrian Daurov, and Haskell Small.

There will be a complimentary wine & cheese reception for an hour before each concert, before descending into the crypt space.

Alexandre Tharaud, April 4, 2016, 8PM

Haskell Small, May 10, 2016, 8PM

The Attacca Quartet, June 8, 2016, 8PM

Di Wu & Adrian Daurov, August 24, 2016, 8PM

Christina & Michelle Naughton, August 25, 2016, 8PM

Matt Haimovitz, September 23, 2016, 8PM

Gregg Kallor, October 26, 2016, 8PM

For complete informaiton, visit http://deathofclassical.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme (CD review)

Also, Faure: Elegie; Saint-Saens and Lalo: Cello Concertos. Paul Tortelier, cello; Herbert Menges, Philharmonia Orchestra; Louis Fremaux, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. EMI Classics 7243 4 76868-2.

As you no doubt know, before Warner Classics acquired EMI's catalogue of music, EMI had repackaged a lot of their older material into mid-priced sets under the banners "Great Recordings of the Century" and "Great Artists of the Century." It's was as good a way as any of getting people's attention. In the case of this disc, the "Great Artist" is cellist Paul Tortelier (1914-1990), and he certainly seems worthy of the praise.

EMI made most of Tortelier's recordings from the 1950's onward, so the company had a good back catalogue of things to choose from. On this album, the cellist plays Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme; Faure's Elegie in C minor; Saint-Saens's Cello Concerto and Allegro appassionato; and Lalo's Cello Concerto. The performances are, as we would expect, uniformly excellent, displaying the musician's ability to produce strong, sleek, outgoing passages as well as quiet, introspective ones. Moreover, Maestros Herbert Menges and Louis Fremaux admirably accompany him with the Philharmonia and City of Birmingham Orchestras respectively.

Paul Tortelier
The controversial part of the disc, however, may be its sound. Understandably, there are going to be some differences from track to track, given that the recordings range in date from 1955 to 1975. The earliest ones, with the Philharmonia, are in both in mono (the Saint-Saens Concerto and the Faure) and stereo (the Saint-Saens Allegro and the Tchaikovsky). The most-recent recording, with the City of Birmingham Symphony, naturally is in stereo (the Lalo).

Yet it appears that the EMI engineers made a conscious effort to ensure that they all sounded as much alike as possible. Namely, they all seem a touch bright and lean. Now, understand, this is how most of EMI's Fifties' stereo sounded, but it is not necessarily how the Birmingham Symphony recordings sounded. Here's the interesting part: I have the same Lalo Concerto as here on an early EMI Studio CD, and comparing the older mastering to this new remaster, the old disc sounds slightly warmer, richer, and less bright. Did EMI intentionally brighten up the Lalo to make it fit in with the sound of the rest of selections this time out? I don't know. The other minor problem is that the early stereo in the Tchaikovsky piece tends slightly to favor the left side of the sound stage.

In any case, the sonics are never a distraction, and with playing of such distinction, I doubt anyone will care if they are. Even the mono sounds pretty good, fuller and better tonally balanced than most of the stereo on the disc; so, as I say, I can't imagine too many listeners complaining, especially if said listeners are already Tortelier fans.

JJP

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


Manhattan Intermezzo (CD review)

Music of Sedaka, Emerson, Ellington, and Gershwin. Jeffrey Biegel, piano; Paul Phillips, Brown University Orchestra. Naxos 8.573490.

I'll bet when a lot of folks hear the words "new music" in the classical field, they think about something avant-garde, experimental, maybe atonal, devoid of melody, harmony, or any other signs of popular entertainment. Not so with the new music on the present disc, Manhattan Intermezzo. The program runs the gamut from relatively new, somewhat sentimental, and probably unfamiliar tunes to an old and well-loved warhorse. More important, it's all highly enjoyable.

The album brings together the works of four twentieth and twenty-first century musician/composers who describe various aspects of downtown New York City. It seems the program concept was the brainchild of American pianist Jeffrey Biegel, who had wanted for some time to bring the music together. Certainly, it could not have fallen into more capable hands. Biegel is a smart, sophisticated musician, and conductor Paul Phillips and the Brown University Orchestra ably accompany his vision.

The opening work on the disc, the title tune Manhattan Intermezzo, comes to us via the first of two perhaps surprising sources: Neil Sedaka. Yes, that Neil Sedaka, the one whose pop music we all grew up with. He wrote the Intermezzo in 2008 (with orchestration by Lee Holdridge) as "a journey through the musical diversity of Manhattan." I mentioned above the "sentimental" part of the program. This is it: very melodic, lush, and rhapsodic. It reminded me of a score for a possible Nicholas Sparks movie. Biegel plays the music with a careful abandon, a measured but enthusiastic approach that keeps Sedaka's tunes from becoming too romanticized. While it's undoubtedly lightweight, perhaps sounding fluffy to some ears, it is undeniably relaxing and enjoyable, too.

The next piece is from another surprising source: the late Keith Emerson. Yes, that Keith Emerson, cofounder of the British rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer. His contribution is the Piano Concerto No. 1, a three-movement work he wrote in 1976 (co-orchestrated by John Mayer). Emerson recorded it with the London Philharmonic a year later, and Jeffrey Biegel took it under his wing in 2001, playing it as often as possible since then. Even though I'm not entirely sure what the music has to do specifically with Manhattan, it's fascinating and entertaining, nonetheless.

Jeffrey Biegel
Emerson's music sounds distinctly more "modern" than Sedaka's, yet it always maintains an eye toward the everyday audience. Its tone can be a touch harsh at times, its varying contrasts a tad disconcerting to the casual listener. Still, if one is a fan of Emerson's pop roots, one will appreciate what he does in this more-serious genre. Biegel plays the music with a straightforward eagerness, emphasizing its expressive vigor, cheery middle, and concluding fury. Moreover, the Brown University players accompany the pianist with their own eager pleasure.

After that is New World a-Coming' by Duke Ellington, written in 1943 and based on journalist Roi Ottley's book of the same name about his vision of "improved conditions for blacks in postwar America." Ellington said he "visualized this new world as a place in the distant future, where there would be no war, no greed, no categorization, no non-believers, where love was unconditional, and no pronoun was good enough for God." Here, Biegel and company show their skills as interpreters of something jazzier than the previous selections, and the work becomes a perfect lead-in for the Gershwin piece that follows.

The final item on the agenda is George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which needs no introduction. The special thing here, besides the virtuosic piano playing and the orchestra's youthful zeal, is that Biegel plays the piano part as closely as possible to the way Gershwin intended it, without all the cuts made to it later. The result is a tad longer than most recordings of the piece but sparkling and fresh.

Producers Paul Phillips, Jeffrey Biegel, and Joseph Patrych and engineer and editor James LeGrand made the recording at Sayles Hall, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in October and November 2014. The piano appears particularly well integrated with the orchestra, out in front, certainly, but not too far in front, with the rest of the instruments realistically distributed behind it. The piano sound is also realistic, clear and clean yet with a hint of room resonance. The orchestra itself sounds nicely balanced, with perhaps a slight emphasis on the upper midrange and with a wide stereo expanse and reasonable stage depth.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, March 12, 2016

Discovery of a Pleyel Grand Piano Played by Chopin

A sensational discovery in the classical music field. A grand piano that actually sat in Frederic Chopin's living room in Paris was discovered after a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation by Alain Kohler, a Swiss physicist. "To make music on a piano of such luminous sound is to enter into the very intimacy of this prince of melancholy," said Mr Kohler. The piano had been restored by Edwin Beunk & Johan Wennink in the Netherlands in 2009. Presently it is privately owned in Germany. This discovery has been confirmed by an expert.

Chopin piano expert Alain Kohler, a great admirer of Chopin, has made a truly thorough investigation. Through an accurate and contextual analysis of Pleyel's ledgers of all the grand pianos Pleyel had put at Chopin's disposal in his home between 1839 and 1847, he found with certainty several applicable serial numbers. Among those, the Pleyel grand piano no. 11265 caught his attention because he remembered that this piano had been put on the market by Edwin Beunk.

It was a surprise and a delight for Mr Beunk when he learned that the piano that he had so painstakingly restored was a piano played by Chopin. Although he obviously regretted having sold it, he was happy that is was to a good friend.

Last year's discovery has been confirmed by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Emeritus Professor of Musicology at the University of Geneva and one of the foremost Chopin scholars.

For more information, read http://www.24presse.com/ImgUsers/18/18399/doc/Pleyel_piano_Chopin_discovered_Kohler.pdf

--24presse

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Conductor and Early-Music Specialist, Dies at 86
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a pioneering and influential early-music specialist and respected mainstream maestro, died on Saturday in the village of St. Georgen im Attergau, east of Salzburg, Austria. He was 86. His death was announced by his wife, Alice, on his Web site.

Mr. Harnoncourt, a cellist, founded the period-instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien — with his wife as concertmaster — in 1953, and it remained crucial to his performance activities even as orchestral conducting came to dominate. He announced his retirement from performance last December, citing inadequate "bodily strength."

"I hate specialists," Mr. Harnoncourt said in 1996 in an interview at his home in the Austrian Alps near Salzburg, where he had amassed a valuable collection of musical instruments.

Call him a specialist or not, and not to deny his multifarious other activities, he researched, performed and recorded early music encyclopedically. In the 1970s and '80s he and the Concentus took part in a complete recording of the nearly 200 surviving Bach sacred cantatas for the Teldec label, sharing the performances with the Dutch harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and his Leonhardt Consort.

For more information, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/arts/music/nikolaus-harnoncourt-conductor-and-early-music-specialist-dies-at-86.html?_r=0

--James R. Oestreich, New York Times

Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer Keyboardist, Dead at 71
"Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come," Carl Palmer says of ELP bandmate.

Keith Emerson, founding member and keyboardist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and a prog rock legend, died Friday. He was 71. While the cause of death was not announced, both his bandmate Carl Palmer and the trio's official Facebook confirmed Emerson's death. "We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family's privacy and grief be respected," the band wrote.

For more information, visit http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/keith-emerson-emerson-lake-and-palmer-keyboardist-dead-at-71-20160311

--Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone

Stewart Copeland & Jon Kimura Parker "Off the Score" at Pace University 4/8
"Off the Score" is a sizzling performance collaboration between drum legend Stewart Copeland (The Police), visionary pianist Jon Kimura Parker, Met Opera violinist Yoon Kwon, rising star bassist Marlon Martinez and champion of the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI) Judd Miller. New works by Copeland and Parker collide with renditions of Stravinsky, Ravel, Piazzolla and Aphex Twin for an inspiring look at a musical universe that shines beyond genre. Friday, April 8, 2016 at 7:30pm at the Schimmel Center.

On the genre-smashing program "Off the Score," founder and drummer of The Police, Stewart Copeland, teams up with another musical iconoclast, the concert pianist Jon Kimura "Jackie" Parker. Together they perform original works and amp up some of the great pieces from the classical canon including Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Ravel's Piano Concerto in G and Piazzolla's Oblivion. Add in jazz pianist Mike Garson's Paganini Variations and a wild arrangement of an Aphex Twin tune and the annihilation of genre is complete!

Copeland, Parker & Company perform at Pace University's Schimmel Center (New York City campus in lower Manhattan, facing City Hall) on Friday, April 8 at 7:30pm. Ticket prices range from $39-$65; visit schimmel.pace.edu or call 212-346-1715 to purchase tickets.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

NYOA Presents the Inaugural New York Opera Fest, May-June 2016
The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA), a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, is proud to present the inaugural New York Opera Fest (nyoperafest.com) May-June, 2016, with over 20 New York City-based companies putting on events in venues ranging from bars to playgrounds to traditional theaters. In addition to performances, the festival will showcase behind-the-scenes events where the public can attend open rehearsals, forums, showcases, and masterclasses featuring some of opera's brightest emerging talents.

Performances will include:
On Site Opera presents the North American premiere of Marcos Portugal's The Marriage of Figaro in the stunning townhouse, 632 on Hudson.
Opera on Tap takes a break from the bars to help Harlem's PS 129 students present an opera on their school playground.
Bronx Opera presents an English-language production of Rossini's beloved Cinderella at Lehman College's Lovinger Theatre.
Rhymes with Opera premieres composer Ruby Fulton and librettist Baynard Woods Adam's Run, a dark comedy set in a dystopic future world.
Operamission performs Handel's first Italian opera Rinaldo on period instruments.
Hunter Opera Theater offers an evening of "Pocket Operas"--short, newly–composed chamber works.

For more info, full schedule and tickets, visit: http://nyoperafest.com

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2016 Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in cooperation with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the third Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) Readings in 2016. Three orchestras – the Naples Philharmonic (May 25 & 26), American Composers Orchestra (June 15 & 16), and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (September 20 & 21) – will workshop, rehearse, and give public readings of new works for symphony orchestra written by sixteen jazz composers.

Six jazz composers selected for readings, workshops, and performances of new works by three Orchestras in 2016.

Naples Philharmonic
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2pm (working rehearsal) & Thursday, May 26 at 7pm (run-through)
Artis-Naples Hayes Hall, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, FL
Admission: Free and open to the public

American Composers Orchestra
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 2:30pm (working rehearsal)  & Thursday, June 16 at 7:30 pm
Columbia University's Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, NYC
Admission: Free and open to the public, reservations suggested

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 & Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7pm (run-through)
Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY
Admission: Evening run-through is free and open to the public

Read the Wall Street Journal feature: http://on.wsj.com/12iNufw

--Christina Jensen, ACO

Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass at Strathmore
Hear the genius of Haydn as the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale perform his famous Lord Nelson Mass on Saturday, April 2 at 8pm at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD  20852).

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); Robert Baker (tenor); and Kevin Deas (baritone).

Missa in Angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times) "is arguably Haydn's greatest single composition,"  says biographer  H. C. Robbins Landon. Austria was in complete chaos the year (1798) Haydn wrote the mass. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year and had invaded Egypt to destroy Britain's trade routes to the East. The name Haydn gave this mass--Missa in Angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times)--reflected the turmoil in Austria. However, unbeknownst to the composer, that summer Napoleon had suffered a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this coincidence, the mass acquired the nickname Lord Nelson Mass.

Also on the program is Maurice Duruflé's Requiem, which has been recognized as a masterpiece for more than half a century. This gentle and meditative work combines medieval melody and modern orchestration by giving the eloquent Gregorian chant prominence throughout.

A free pre-concert lecture will be offered at 6:45 pm on Saturday, April 2 in the concert hall at the Music Center at Strathmore. To purchase tickets to National Philharmonic's Lord Nelson Mass on April 2, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at (301) 581-5100. Tickets start from $29. 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.

For more information, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org

--Deborah Birnbaum, National Philharmonic

Cash Prizes Doubled for Oberlin's 2016 Cooper Piano Competition
The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition returns to Oberlin College and Conservatory for its seventh year in July—and it now awards the highest-valued first prize of any competition for its age group.

Beginning this year, the piano competition's cash prize package will be doubled to $40,000, including a $20,000 first prize.

The 2016 Cooper Competition begins Saturday, July 15, with five days of public performances presented by 25 to 35 pianists on the beautiful Oberlin campus. The excitement culminates on Friday, July 22, as three finalists perform complete concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland. The winner takes home the $20,000 first prize, with $10,000 and $5,000 awarded for second and third place, respectively. Each finalist's prize package also includes a full four-year tuition scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

For more information, visit https://home.oberlin.edu/

--Erich Burnett, Oberlin Conservatory

Ariana Kim Releases Video of Augusta Read Thomas's Incantation
Violinist Ariana Kim has released a new video today for International Women's Day, featuring a performance of Augusta Read Thomas' heartbreaking solo violin work Incantation. The piece was written as an homage to a Thomas' friend Catherine Tait, a violinist who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tait premiered the work weeks before her untimely death at age 44.

Kim has also recorded the piece for her debut album Routes of Evanescence, a recording which features the music of modern American women composers including Thomas, JenniferCurtis, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Tonia Ko.

In addition to her work in Brooklyn-based orchestra collective The Knights and critically-lauded new music ensemble Ne(x)tworks, Ariana has also recently joined the acclaimed all-female Aizuri Quartet, in-residence at the Curtis Institute.

To view the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro1I8lyYCRw&feature=youtu.be&mc_cid=70184a7814&mc_eid=a3acd26ed0

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

American Boychoir Performs for One Night Only in NYC, 4/6 at the Church of St. Thomas More
The American Boychoir, the celebrated vocal ensemble of the Princeton, NJ-based American Boychoir School, has been heralded as one of the nation's premier musical ensembles. Its mission is to sustain and advance the one-thousand-year-old boychoir school tradition. The American Boychoir brings its distinctly American voice to the Church of St. Thomas More (65 E. 89th Street) in New York, NY on April 6, 2016 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $30 general admission, $20 for students and seniors, and $45 for premium seating; visit americanboychoir.org for more details. Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2512289.

The program, "How Can I Keep From Singing?", showcases the versatility of the American Boychoir, with selections ranging from Mendelssohn and Samuel Barber to folksongs from around the world to traditional American hymns and spirituals. The title of the program comes from James Q. Mulholland's "How Can I Keep From Singing," whose lyrics perfectly embody the American Boychoir's belief in the power of music.

--Caroline Heaney, BuckleSweet Media

Celebrate Bach's Birthday with ABS
Friday March 18 2016 8:00 pm - St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Jonathan Dimmock, organist

Internationally acclaimed organ recitalist, Jonathan Dimmock, is currently the organist for the San Francisco Symphony and Principal Organist at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He holds the unique distinction of having been the only American Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey and is one of the few organists in the world to tour on six continents. He is founding director of Artists' Vocal Ensemble (AVE), co-founder of American Bach Soloists, and founding president of Resonance, an organization that uses music in international conflict resolution. To celebrate Bach's birthday, Mr. Dimmock has created an all-Bach program that celebrates the master's genius as composer for "the king of instruments," performing on one of the Bay Area's most treasured tracker organs. Favorite gems and a few lesser known yet brilliant works will add up to a sensational special event.

For more information, visit http://americanbach.org/seasons/15-16/BachBirthday.html

--Jeff McMillan, American Bach Soloists

Classic Chocolate Survey Update
For those of you unaware (or uninterested), the "Survey of Dark Chocolate" gets updated quite frequently, or at least as frequently as I can get hold of a different and exciting new chocolate bar to sample. The most-recent update contains a few words on the latest Amedei, Cailler, Neuhaus, Philip Marks, Cocoa Parlor, Equal Exchange, Pacari, and Dick Taylor products, among others. You can always find the survey in the left-hand column here at Classical Candor, or you can use the following link: http://classicalcandor.blogspot.com/2012/01/classic-chocolate-dark-chocolate-review.html

--JJP

Incidentally
If you haven't noticed, I've started using a different media player for the audio clips at the end of reviews. Unlike the old player, this new one should work in all Android devices, smartphones, and Apple products as well as Windows PC's. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

--JJP

Marches in Hi-Fi (XRCD review)

Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra. JVC JM-XR24020.

I read once that Arthur Fiedler had sold more classical albums than any conductor who ever lived. I can easily believe that, considering the man lead the Boston Pops Orchestra for something like a half a century. Nevertheless, music critics always seemed to consider Fiedler something of a lightweight when it came to classical conducting, despite his enormous experience and popularity. I suppose it was the nature of the repertoire he worked with, mostly well-loved light classics like this collection of marches for orchestra.

Fiedler recorded the present album in 1958, and it has remained a perennial favorite with music listeners ever since. In fact, among the drawbacks of the JVC audiophile remastering reviewed here is that it costs well over two or three times as much as RCA's regular "Living Stereo" issue, and it does not include an additional four marches that RCA added to their mid-price CD.

Arthur Fiedler
Another drawback is that not all of the performances on the disc seem very persuasive to me. Fiedler seems at times to be rushing through them at anything but a march tempo, as though he were in a hurry to get along with yet another project and be home in time for dinner. Among the interpretations that fared pretty well for me are those of Verdi's "Grand March" from Aida, Victor Herbert's "March of the Toys" from Babes in Toyland, Sousa's "Semper Fidelis," Robert Morse's "Up the Street," and Kenneth Alford's enduring "Colonel Bogey," featured in the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.

The conductor's rather prosaic readings of a few other items, though, didn't charm me as much: "Yankee Doodle Dandy," Meredith Wilson's "76 Trombones" from The Music Man, Morton Gould's "American Salute," and George and Ira Gershwin's "Strike Up the Band," for instance.

The JVC engineers probably brought the sound up to its best possible specs through the meticulous care they lavished in their XRCD remastering process, and when it's at its best the sound is, indeed, pretty good. Bass appears solid, highs extended, and dynamics wide. But, oddly, there doesn't seem to be a lot of depth to the orchestral field, individual instruments sometimes get spotlighted and miked too close up, with a touch of congestion crowding some of the loudest passages.

In all, the whole package--the performances and the sound--comes up a somewhat mixed bag, maybe showing its weaknesses more so than some other recordings from the era.

JJP

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

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream (SACD review)

Also, The Hebrides Overture; The Fair Melusine Overture. Camilla Tilling, soprano; Magdalena Risberg, soprano; Swedish Radio Choir (women's voices); Thomas Dausgaard, Swedish Chamber Orchestra. BIS-2166 SACD.

As you no doubt know, German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) began work on his music for William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream as a teenager, composing the Overture in 1826 when he was only seventeen. Then he stopped, completing the work some sixteen years later in 1841 while employed by the Prussian court. It was here that King Frederick William IV suggested he compose some complete incidental music for a new production of the Shakespeare play, and Mendelssohn complied since he had already written the opening tune.

For me, any new recording of the music has the formidable job of living up to the airy, mercurial, and magical performances of Otto Klemperer and Andre Previn (both on EMI), the latter giving us pretty much all of the music Mendelssohn wrote for the play, including little interconnecting pieces. On the present disc, Maestro Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra give us most of the music, too, at least the parts most listeners probably want. The music itself, of course, is highly programmatic, representing Shakespeare's major plot ideas and characters, most notably Puck, Bottom, the Duke, and the fairies.

Having a smallish chamber orchestra helps Dausgaard, as the music can sound sweet and transparent performed on an intimate scale. Anyway, Dausgaard maintains some fairly quick tempos throughout the performance, starting right out with a fast-paced Overture. However, while it can appear to inject some new life into an old warhorse, it also tends to detract a bit from the music's lighthearted, fairy-tale charm. When the conductor does slow down within a movement, it can come more as a disconcerting contrast than an imaginative nuance.

I have to admit, though, that Dausgaard does project some lively and entertaining rhythms in the piece, and the Scherzo sounds especially buoyant and responsive. The chorus and soloist make a sweet contribution in "Ye Spotted Snakes"; yet the familiar Nocturne seems more perfunctory than it should be.

In the "Wedding March" Dausgaard's penchant for a swift gait works best, I think. This actually sounds like a fairy-tale wedding to me--enchanting and solemn at the same time.

Thomas Dausgaard
In all, I can't see Maestro Dausgaard displacing Klemperer or Previn in my own pantheon of Mendelssohn performances. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of life in this performance, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra play enthusiastically.

Now, in terms of the couplings, I liked what the conductor did with the two overtures, particularly The Hebrides, which closes the program. He strikes a fine, delicate balance between the fury of the coastal waters and the eternal beauty of the sea.

I can't say I'm too keen on the darkness of the album cover, by the way. When did record companies give up providing covers to match the tone of the music? I dunno.

Producer Marion Schwebel and engineer Thore Brinkmann of Take 5 Music Production recorded the album at the Concert Hall of the School of Music, Theatre and Art, Orebro, Sweden in September 2014. They made the disc for hybrid SACD playback, so with SACD equipment one can play it back in two-channel stereo or multichannel, and with a regular CD player one can play it in two-channel stereo. I listened in two-channel stereo SACD.

BIS's sound from this smallish chamber orchestra is excellent: clear, clean, warm, smooth, dimensional, airy, you name it. There is a spacious feeling present without any undue highlighting of instruments. One will also find the dynamic range impressive and the transient quickness and overall impact quite natural. Voices, too, show up realistically, with no brightness or edge. It's among the better-sounding new recordings I've heard in a while.

JJP

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



Classical Music News of the Week, March 5, 2016

Cirque du Symphonie & California Symphony, June 18 at Scottish Rite Center, Oakland, CA

The aerialists, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, strongmen, and acrobats of Cirque de la Symphonie join the California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera in the Orchestra's annual fundraising special event, Cirque du Symphonie, presented by Steadauto.com, Saturday, June 18 at 7:30 pm at the historic and beautiful Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, California. For this performance, the Cirque production team and California Symphony have developed a unique program specifically for the Orchestra and the special characteristics of the Scottish Rite Center.

The artists of Cirque de la Symphonie will execute their spectacular feats to music ranging from Bizet's Carmen to John Williams (music from Indiana Jones and Superman), Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture, Arturo Marquez's Danzon No. 2, Debussy's Clair du lune, Offenbach's "Can-Can No. 4," and Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 6; and the orchestra plays music from Aaron Copland ("Hoe-Down" from Rodeo), Richard Rodgers ("Carousel Waltz"), and Strauss ("Emperor Waltz"). All proceeds from the event, presented by steadauto.com, support the California Symphony and its music education programs, including Sound Minds, Music in the Schools, and the organization's respected Young American Composer-in-Residence Program.

Tickets for the California Symphony's special event fundraiser Cirque du Symphonie Presented by Steadauto.com at Oakland's Scottish Rite Center are $149 and $500 and can be purchased through the California Symphony's website at www.californiasymphony.org/symphonie and at 925-280-2490.  The $149 tickets include the performance, pre-show hors d'oeuvres, two drink tickets, pre-concert entertainment with carnival games, roaming performers, and photo booth, silent auction, and dessert after the show. Cocktail ticket prices are subject to change after April 1. The $500 tickets include prime table seating front and center at the performance, valet parking, pre-concert hors d'oeuvres, hosted bar throughout the evening, pre-concert entertainment with carnival games, roaming performers, and photo booth, silent auction, and a three-course meal during the performance with wine included, as well as a private meet-and-greet with circus performers after the show. Tickets are on pre-sale to California Symphony subscribers and donors on Thursday, February 11, and go on sale Thursday, February 18 at 10 am to the general public.

Tickets for the California Symphony's special event fundraiser Cirque du Symphonie Presented by Steadauto.com at Oakland's Scottish Rite Center are $149 and $500 and can be purchased by calling 925-280-2490 or visiting the California Symphony's Web site at www.californiasymphony.org/symphonie.

The $149 tickets include the performance, pre-show hors d'oeuvres, two drink tickets, preconcert entertainment with carnival games, roaming performers, and photo booth, silent auction, and dessert after the show. Cocktail ticket prices are subject to change after April 1. The $500 tickets include prime table seating front and center at the performance, valet parking, pre-concert hors d'oeuvres, hosted bar throughout the evening, pre-concert entertainment with carnival games, roaming performers, and photo booth, silent auction, and a three-course meal during the performance with wine included, as well as a private meet-and-greet with circus performers after the show. Tickets are on pre-sale to California Symphony subscribers and donors on Thursday, February 11, and go on sale Thursday, February 18 at 10 am to the general public.

For more information, visit www.californiasymphony.org

--Jean Shirk Media

43nd Annual Bach Week Festival Slated for Evanston April 22 & 24, Chicago May 6
The 43nd annual edition of the Chicago area's Bach Week Festival will welcome first-time guest choir Bella Voce, an acclaimed Chicago vocal ensemble, when the spring festival celebrating the rich variety of J.S. Bach's music opens April 22 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Il.

Festival concerts will also take place on April 24 at Nichols Hall and May 6 at Anderson Chapel at North Park University on Chicago's North Side. The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park's School of Music.

An intimate, late-evening Candlelight Concert in Evanston on April 22 will offer music for recorder and viola da gamba. Bach Week music director and conductor Richard Webster says concertgoers can expect some festival firsts, including Bach's Cantata BWV 66 and a piano performance of selections from Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier," a work heard only once before at the festival, in the 1990s, on harpsichord. In fact, this will be just the second solo piano performance in Bach Week history.

"This year's typically varied program will have variations in abundance," Webster adds, pointing to a pair of well-known Bach works, "The Musical Offering" and the "Art of Fugue," each comprising multiple compositions based on a single melodic idea. Webster, who performed in and helped organize Evanston's inaugural Bach Week Festival in 1974, has been music director since 1975.

Evanston, Illinois concerts: April 22 & 24
Chicago, Illinois concert: May 6

Single tickets for each of the festival's three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID.  All tickets for the April 22 Candlelight Concert are $20. Festival subscriptions for the three main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. Tickets are available by calling 800-838-3006 or by visiting www.bachweek.org.

--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

Kent Nagano, Montreal Symphony Orchestra & Daniil Trifonov March 26 in Zellerbach Hall
Cal Performances presents the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, directed by Kent Nagano, for one performance only of a program of early 20th-century works, including Debussy's Jeux and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, on Saturday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA.

Star pianist Daniil Trifonov returns after his highly successful Cal Performances debut with Gidon Kremer in the 2014–2015 season, this time joining the Montreal Symphony for Prokofiev's viscerally powerful Piano Concerto No. 3. As London's The Guardian recently remarked, "from agile thoroughbred to bucking bronco, gawky puppet to noble athlete, careworn sage to innocent child, Daniil Trifonov's playing has it all…he is, no other word, a phenomenon."

A pre-performance talk will be held with Nagano, Trifonov, and members of the orchestra on the enduring attraction of Prokofiev's music for artists and audiences today. The program is part of Cal Performances' season-long exploration of the music of Sergei Prokofiev through performances, public programs, and an academic symposium.

Conductor Kent Nagano, beloved former director of the Berkeley Symphony from 1978 to 2009, returns to Berkeley with two works composed within a year of each other for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Jeux (1912–1913) is Debussy's final work for orchestra, a vibrant, restless work with nearly 60 tempo changes over the course of its 17 minutes. It was originally composed to accompany a ballet for the Ballets Russes to choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, but was soon eclipsed by Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1910–1913), which the company premiered less than two weeks later. Complementing these kinetic works for dance is Prokofiev's emotionally expansive Piano Concerto No. 3 (1921), which calls on the full expressive power of the orchestra to match that of the soloist, in passages that range from exuberant and extroverted to poetic and introspective. The New York Times has praised Trifonov's interpretation of this work: "he offered far more than mere virtuosity…Trifonov demonstrated an elegant touch and witty grace in more lighthearted moments and poetic insight in more introspective passages."

Tickets for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $42.00 to $150.00 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 www.calperformances.org, and at the door. For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php.

--Louisa Spier, Cal Performances

CYSO Joins Orion for "American Landscape" Concert March 23
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, is pleased to welcome the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras'
Belimane Quartet for the final performance of "American Landscape," its third concert program of the 2015-16 season. The high school-age performers join Orion as its Janet's Stage Artist Partners Wednesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Il.

The Belimane Quartet musicians are violinist Ben Ellenbogen, who lives in Oak Park and is a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School; violinist Ellen Maloney, who lives in Wheaton and is a junior at Glenbard West High School; violist Jane Larson, who lives in Oak Park and is home-schooled; and cellist Tim Edwards, who lives in Downers Grove and is a senior at Downers Grove North High School. They will perform Poco Adagio-Allegro from Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74 "Harp".

"American Landscape," Orion's third concert program of its 23rd season, showcases Orion's core musicians: clarinetist Kathryne Pirtle, violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, cellist Judy Stone and pianist Diana Schmück. The program includes Jackson Berkey's "Earth Voices" for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1994); Rick Sowash's "Anecdotes and Reflections: A Portrait of America" for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1988-89); and Antonin Dvorák's Trio in E Minor, Op. 90 for violin, cello and piano (Dumky).

Prior to the March 23 performance with the Belimane Quartet, Orion performs this program at the First Baptist Church of Geneva March 13 and at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Il March 20.

Performance and ticket information:
The Orion Ensemble's concert program "American Landscape" takes place Sunday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Sunday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston; and Wednesday, March 23--with the CYSO's Belimane Quartet--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 orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

American Bach Soloists Receive First $1 Million Gift
American Bach Soloists (ABS) have received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to support ABS's artistic and educational mission.

This visionary gift, the greatest single contribution in the organization's 27-year history, enables ABS to solidify its standing as a first-rate Early Music ensemble and provides the opportunity for long-term growth and expansion.

Jeffrey Thomas, Artistic and Music Director, and co-founder of American Bach Soloists, said, "A gift of this magnitude is a testament to the value of ABS within our community, to the quality of ABS performances, and to the sustainability of our organization. We, the musicians of ABS, are deeply grateful for this profound vote of confidence in our mission and goals. And I am personally gratified to know that this important, example-setting gift will lead to the continued development of our lively performance and educational programs, and will inspire increased commitment from all of our supporters."

This gift also represents the launch of new development initiatives designed to support ABS as it rises into the next tier of revered arts organizations.

James R. Meehan, President of the ABS Board of Directors, said, "This gift is an inspiration to the musicians of American Bach Soloists, to the organization that supports them, and to our loyal audiences. It is an investment in the future of the high-quality performances that ABS brings to the Bay Area in its subscription concerts and in the education of young professional musicians who attend the Bach Festival and Academy each summer. On behalf of the Board, I am honored that this generous donor will enable us to share these rich musical experiences with so many people."

These funds come at a time when ABS is performing to its largest audiences to date in venues around the Bay Area and in nearby Davis, and provides robust support for the ensemble's live and recorded performances and outstanding educational initiatives. "We are all extremely happy to receive the largest gift in ABS's history," said ABS Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter. "The donor's dedication to ABS and Maestro Jeffrey Thomas, and confidence in the Board of Directors and management, goes a long way in ensuring our future. We are just so grateful."

--Jeff McMillan, ABS

Collage New Music's 2015-2016 Season Finale
Grammy nominated, Boston-based ensemble, College New Music will play the last concert of its 2015-2016 season on March 13. Titled, "Elliott's Ears and Eras," the program focuses on the extraordinary range of expression of Elliott Carter, who composed music from age 15 to 103. This all-Carter program presents a large sample of that breadth and variety, from an early, thrilling piano sonata, through a mid-century masterpiece-an astonishingly unbuttoned "baroque" quartet-to five late, exquisite miniatures for solo instruments, and, finally, to his serenely graceful setting of three Italian poems for soprano and four instruments. Soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Christopher Oldfather, violinist Catherine French, cellist Joel Moerschel, flutist Christopher Krueger, oboist Peggy Pearson, clarinetist Robert Annis, and conductor David Hoose will perform.

Concert Details: March 13, 2016.
Pre-Concert Talk with poet Lloyd Schwartz, composer John Heiss, and Collage Music Director David Hoose begins at 7pm. Performance at 8pm.
Longy School of Music, 27 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Individual tickets can be purchased through the group's web site. Student and senior discounts are available: http://www.collagenewmusic.org/tickets/

--Lisa Helfer Elghazi, Celesta Marketing & PR

University of Washington Receives $750,000 Mellon Grant for Creative Research
A three and a half year, $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Washington to pilot a new Creative Fellowships Initiative that will explore the nature of creative research at a top public research university. The interdisciplinary Initiative will advance the field of performing arts by supporting artists in the development of new work and by integrating the performing arts disciplines into the broader curriculum. This is the first time the University's performing arts units, the Schools of Music and Drama, DXArts, UW World Series and the Dance Program have joined together for an experiment of this scale.

 "The Creative Fellowships Initiative builds on the University of Washington's belief in innovation and the power of the arts to make positive change in the world," said Gerald J. Baldasty, UW interim provost and executive vice president. "The program so clearly supports UW President Ana Mari Cauce's mission to prepare the next generation of leaders through interdisciplinary learning that generates new knowledge and ideas."

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

SM Students Give Sneak Peek of New Opera The Leopard
Brooklyn's American Opera Projects (AOP) and the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) will present scenes from a new opera The Leopard by composer Michael Dellaira (The Secret Agent) and librettist J. D. McClatchy (Emmeline), an adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's internationally acclaimed 1958 novel.

The staged scenes will be performed on Sunday, March 13 at 2:30 PM and Thursday, March 17 at 7:30 PM at the Manhattan School of Music's Greenfield Hall (122nd Street and Broadway, New York, NY 10027). An additional performance will be held Friday, March 18 at 8:00 PM at South Oxford Space (138 South Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217) in Fort Greene and will be presented alongside music from Rated R for Rat, a new opera about the Chinese zodiac by composer Wang Jie that is also in development at AOP. Each performance will feature a Q&A with the operas' creators.

Tickets are $10-$20 for the March 13 performance and free with reservation for the March 17 and 18 performances at www.aopopera.org.

--Matthew Gray, American Opera Projects

Seattle Symphony Extend Contract with Thomas Dausgaard Through 2019-2020
The Seattle Symphony is pleased to announce the extension of Thomas Dausgaard's appointment as its Principal Guest Conductor for an additional three years. Dausgaard is currently in the second year of his three-year contract, which concludes at the end of the 2016–2017 season. The new contract will be effective starting from the 2017–2018 season through the end of the 2019–2020 season.

"This is wonderful news that we can continue our collaboration with our great friend and colleague Thomas Dausgaard," said Music Director Ludovic Morlot. "Thomas is an outstanding musician who brings such a beautiful range of music, great performances and inspiring ideas that are being embraced by our orchestra with extraordinary enthusiasm."

For more information, visit www.seattlesymphony.org

--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Associates

John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

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.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa