Classical Music News of the Week, April 22, 2017

Music Institute Presents Yana Reznik, Academy Orchestra May 20

The Music Institute of Chicago showcases its award-winning Academy Orchestra in a concert featuring pianist Yana Reznik Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The Music Institute recently hired Reznik to join its piano faculty at the Academy, a prestigious training center for gifted pre-college pianists and string players.

The program includes Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, with Reznik as soloist and Academy Director James Setapen as conductor. Also on the program is Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92, conducted by Roland Vamos.

The Music Institute of Chicago presents Yana Reznik and the Academy Orchestra Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, IL. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available at musicinst.org/faculty-guest-artist-series or 847.905.1500. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Merola Opera Program 60th Anniversary Season: June 11 Gala and Concert
The Merola Opera Program launches its 60th Anniversary season on Sunday, June 11 with a Benefit Gala at City Hall and a concert immediately following at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, featuring some of the acclaimed Merola program's most illustrious participants.

The 60th Anniversary concert will feature performances by Merola alumni from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and current and recent participants, including: soprano Deborah Voigt (1985); mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick (1983); Mark Morash, pianist and Merola Opera Program Music Director (1987); and soprano Tracy Dahl (1985); soprano Kristin Clayton (1993), mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook (1990), Bojan Knezevic, bass-baritone (1992, 1993, 1994), and John Churchwell, pianist (1996); baritone Quinn Kelsey (2002); 2013 Merola graduates mezzo-soprano Zanda Švede and tenors Pene Pati and Issachah Savage; soprano Julie Adams, and bass Anthony Reed,  all from 2014; Amina Edris and Toni Marie Palmertree, sopranos; and Brad Walker, bass-baritone, both from 2015; and 2016 artists Sarah Cambidge, soprano; Amitai Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven, tenors; Andrew G. Manea, baritone; John Elam and Jennifer Szeto, pianists; and director Aria Umezawa.

The evening will begin with an elegant cocktail reception in the historic Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. A special collection of Signature Events will be the focus of the silent auction, where guests can bid on an exciting array of once-in-a-lifetime, intimate recitals and receptions featuring Merola alumni in private homes and other exclusive settings. Dinner will be held in the North Light Court, where guests will be seated with the new 2017 Merola artists, who will be training and performing beginning in June and throughout the summer. The evening's celebrations will continue in the beautiful Herbst Theatre with the concert, featuring aforementioned Merola alumni from the past four decades. Following the concert, there will be a festive dessert after-party with dancing in the Veterans Building Green Room, where guests can mingle with the concert artists and the 2017 Merolini.

The concert begins at 8 pm with performances from two of Merola's most well-known successes, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick, joined by the 2017 Merolini for "Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour," from Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann. Soprano Julie Adams, who sings Mimi this summer in San Francisco Opera's La Boheme, and tenor Pene Pati will sing the duet "Suzel, buon dì" from Mascagni's L'amico Fritz.

For more information, visit http://www.merola.org/home

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Tucson Desert Song Festival Announces its Sixth Season
The Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF) will celebrate the life and music of Leonard Bernstein, the iconic conductor, composer, pianist and educator, from January 16 through February 4th, 2018, in Tucson, Arizona. Over a period of eighteen days, TDSF, in partnership with Tucson's leading arts organizations, will present 30 events honoring Bernstein at 100. The festival will provide a rich and unusual context in which to experience Bernstein's work.

Leonard Bernstein's compositions span classical, Broadway, jazz and pop music idioms with a singularly American voice. TDSF Director George Hanson has curated a festival that draws from every aspect of Bernstein's compositional range, from large to intimate works, featuring, films, lectures, symposiums and master classes. Highlights include a fully-staged production of Bernstein's comic operetta Candide (in partnership with Arizona Opera); Trouble in Tahiti (in partnership with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra) featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Kelly Markgraf; Mass, in a new reduced version (in partnership with True Concord Voices & Orchestra) featuring Jubilant Sykes; the "Kaddish" symphony, narrated by Jamie Bernstein, and an evening with Broadway star Chita Rivera.

George Hanson, a former assistant to Bernstein states, "Leonard Bernstein is one of America's most important and influential musicians. His impact is felt by all who were alive during his glorious career; and is still felt today even by those too young to recall his time on earth. Nowhere else in the world, as far as we know, can a listener experience the full spectrum of Bernstein's genius in such a short period of time, and in such a beautiful place as Tucson."

Jamie Bernstein, narrator, writer and broadcaster, will be TDSF's Artist-in-Residence, sharing insights and memories of her father and his work. Dr. Matthew Mugmon, the New York Philharmonic's Leonard Bernstein Scholar, will also be in residence. Ms. Bernstein and Dr.. Mugmon will provide context to help understand the complex life and career of Leonard Bernstein and will participate in symposia, Leonard Bernstein's Impact on American Music, among them.

For complete information, visit http://www.tucsondesertsongfestival.org/

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Moab Music Festival Announces 25th Anniversary Season
Concerts celebrate past composers-in-residence, works written by composers in their 25th year, Bernstein's centenary, and signature concerts in the breathtaking Grotto.

This season, the Moab Music Festival (MMF) celebrates 25 years of music in concert with the landscape with "sandstone walls for acoustics, willows for privacy and river sand for a stage" (Sunset Magazine), and more than two decades of what makes this Festival "stand out from many of its competitors." (Chamber Music Magazine)  As Denver Magazine 5280 wrote, "Although I don't know Tchaikovsky from Brahms, the beauty of this festival is that I don't have to. It's about what you feel when the music starts, not about what you know. The combination of music - whether it's chamber music or jazz ensemble - set against the canyon lands background is, in a word, stirring."

For complete information, visit www.moabmusicfest.org

--Dworkin & Company

In the Salon of Mademoiselle Lévi
Performed by Hesperus: Tina Chancey, John Mark Rozendaal, and Webb Wiggins

May 11, 2017 - 8:00pm
The Santucary of Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25/$35/$50/$100
For more information, visit www.salonsanctuary.org

--Salon/Sanctuary Concets

Pianist Michael Brown Debuts at 92Y - May 3
Winner of 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, pianist Michael Brown makes his 92Y debut at the Buttenwieser Hall on Wednesday, May 3 at 8:30 pm. Selected by Sir András Schiff, Mr. Brown performs at the final concert of 92Y's Sir András Schiff Selects series of the season, featuring works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bernstein and one of the pianist's own composition, Constellations and Toccata.  Praised by The New York Times as a "young piano visionary," Mr. Brown is a Steinway Artist and a member of  CMS Two at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Equally committed as a pianist and composer, Mr. Brown's recent commissions include a piano concerto for the Maryland Symphony and works for the Look & Listen Festival, Bargemusic, Concert Artists Guild, The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, and Shriver Hall. His two-part composition, Constellations and Toccata, was written for and premiered by the acclaimed American pianist Orion Weiss. It draws inspiration from two different modes of perceiving the universe.

For more information, visit https://www.92y.org/event/michael-brown-piano.aspx

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Francisco J. Núñez to Present Educator Patricia Redd Johnson with Academy for Teachers Award
The Academy for Teachers will present its first-ever fund-raising gala celebrating New York City teachers on Tuesday, May 2, during which Francisco J. Núñez, founder and artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City and an educator himself, will present Patricia Redd Johnson, his former teacher at I.S. 44, with The Academy's Woodridge Award for Great Teachers.

The benefit takes place at the New-York Historical Society and begins with cocktails at 6 p.m. followed by a performance featuring stars of stage and screen Matthew Broderick and Vanessa Williams, jazz great Ron Blake, hip-hop sensation Sean Cross, composer Phil Galdston, poet Taylor Mali, puppet genius Basil Twist, as well as a quartet of gifted students from the Special Music School.  The benefit's honorary co-chairs are Caroline Hirsch, Stephen Sondheim, and Gloria Steinem.

"Show Teachers the Love!"
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), NYC

6 p.m.   Cocktails
7 p.m.   Show
Tapas and dessert to follow                    

For tickets, contact Rebecca@academyforteachers.com

--Shuman Associates PR

Summer 2017: Weill Hall, the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University
July:
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular
3rd Annual Bluegrass Festival
Gloria Estefan – The Standards and More
Community Concert

August:
Diana Krall
Jake Owen
Blues at the Green feat. Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
Chick Corea Elektric Band | Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
St. Paul and the Broken Bones | Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.
Pink Martini featuring China Forbes

September:
Taste of Sonoma
George Benson & Kenny G
Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra
Common
Los Tigres del Norte
National Acrobat and Martial Arts of the People's Republic of China

For complete information, visit http://gmc.sonoma.edu/

--Green Music Center

String Quartet Brooklyn Rider Makes Wallis Debut on May 13
Hailed as "the future of chamber music" (Strings) that perform with "the energy of young rock stars" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), the game-changing string quartet Brooklyn Rider comes to The Wallis for one night only on Saturday, May 13 at 8pm. NPR best described the ensemble when it said: "Take two violins, a viola, a cello. Add the world. Persian, Silk Road, Bartók, Beethoven, Roma, klezmer, Minnesota, Brooklyn, Philip Glass--and you've got Brooklyn Rider. The spell-casting, trail-blazing string quartet straight out of Brooklyn and all over."

Brooklyn Rider will present an eclectic program at The Wallis that includes work by Philip Glass, Leoš Janácek, Beethoven and the ensemble's own violinist, Colin Jacobsen. A pre-concert conversation moderated by Classical KUSC's Brian Lauritzen with members of Brooklyn Rider will take place at 7:00 pm with complimentary wine sponsored by The Henry Wine Group.

Single tickets are now available for $29 - $59. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit TheWallis.org/Rider, call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Ticket prices subject to change.

For more information, please visit: TheWallis.org

--Sarah Jarvis, The Wallis

Gould: American Ballads (CD review)

Also, Foster Gallery; American Salute. Theodore Kuchar, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. Naxos 8.559005.

The surprise here, and a delightful one, is not that American composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist Morton Gould (1913-1996) successfully orchestrated so many fine, old American folk tunes; most people who are familiar with twentieth-century American music already know and appreciate the man and his work. No, the surprise is that a Ukrainian orchestra and a Ukrainian-American conductor could bring them off so idiomatically and with such enthusiasm and charm.

The program begins with a series of short tunes (1976) called American Ballads: the "Star-Spangled Overture" an appropriate starting point, through "Amber Waves," "Jubilio," "Memorials," "Saratoga Quickstep," and "Hymnals."

The core of the disc, however, is a collection called Foster Gallery (1939), in which Gould connects some of Stephen Foster's most memorable songs with a few of his lesser-known things in a kind of Pictures From an Exhibition layout, with variations on "Camptown Races" being the thread holding the pieces together. Some of it is achingly beautiful, like "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair"; much of it familiar, like "Swanee River," "Old Black Joe," "My Old Kentucky Home"; and some of it not so familiar, like "Canebreak Jig," "Comrades, Fill No Glass for Me," "Kitty Bell"; with a rousing finale of "Oh, Susanna." The disc concludes with the composer's arrangement of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," which Gould titled American Salute.

Theodore Kuchar
The idea of taking old tunes and renewing them symphonically is not new. People like Dvorak, Ives, Grainger, Vaughan Williams, and dozens of others did it, too. Gould uses banjos along with piccolos, harps, oboes, clarinets, trombones, tubas, percussion, and strings--lots and lots of strings--to accomplish the deed.

What's more, Theodore Kuchar and his Ukrainian players (he was still the orchestra's Principal Conductor at the time of the recording) perform all of this as though it were their own native music. Now, you might say the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine seems an unlikely ensemble to be playing American nationalistic music; but in this case they play with as much passion and spirit as any native orchestra might. Let's say, they adjust well, and there is probably a good reason why the Ukraine ensemble has recorded more music than any other orchestra of the former Soviet Union.

Then, there's the sound from this 2000 Naxos release. It projects a big, bold image to match Gould's big, bold music and Kuchar's big, jazzy music-making. Although one could hardly describe any of it as subtle, it sounds wholly appropriate.

And all for less money than you'd pay for a hamburger at McDonald's. There are few other labels that let one experiment as much as Naxos.

JJP

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


Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (SACD review)

Also, Dvorak: Rusalka Fantasy. Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Reference Recordings Fresh! FR-720SACD.

It seems that the Pittsburgh Symphony's Music Director, Manfred Honeck, wants us to be as fascinated by the mysteries of Tchaikovsky's final symphony as he is. Honeck spends eleven-and-a-half pages of the booklet notes explaining all the various rumors, insinuations, descriptions, and elucidations surrounding the work. You know, did Tchaikovsky write it to foretell his own death, and so on. I'm not sure he needed to go into such detail on the subject, since no one really knows for sure why the composer wrote his last big-scale piece the way he did, but it makes for an interesting and enlightening read.

Anyway, the real question is why we might need yet another recording of a work that conductors have already recorded to death. To answer that, we have to look at several factors, including whether the music is worth performing so often; whether the new interpretation is good enough to warrant buying it; whether the orchestra responds well to it; whether there is value in the coupling; and whether the recorded sound holds up to the listener's standards. Let's take them one at a time.

Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote his Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique" in the last year of his life, and it would be his final work before he died. The ensuing century brought it mounting fame, and today one can hardly doubt its value as one of the late-Romantic period's most-popular works. The title "Pathetique" in Russian means "passionate" or "emotional," which is how most conductors play it--big, bold, and red-blooded. Maestro Honeck, though, generally brings to it a more restrained approach.

The work begins with a fairly lengthy introduction, which Honeck takes in leisurely fashion before moving into the main subject. Then, things build in an agitated fashion, culminating in the music's famous central theme. The first time it appears, Honeck appears to do little with it, and one wonders if the music is ever going to catch fire. But not to worry; about halfway through, Honeck lets the big guns loose, and we know this is Tchaikovsky after all. A very dynamic live recording helps here as well. Honeck ends the movement with an appropriately sedate repose.

Manfred Honeck
The second-movement Allegro con grazia is a waltz, and the third-movement is a zippy scherzo before ending a mournful Finale. Here, Honeck does keep things quite as usual, either. The waltz seems a bit too fast, as though Honeck wanted to get it over with. The scherzo is also quick, which we would expect, although I'm not sure Honeck catches all the fire and passion by taking it quite as speedily as he does. Nevertheless, it's fun. Lastly, Honeck ends the affair with a finale in the same unhurried vein as his first movement.

The Pittsburgh Symphony proves once again that it is among America's top orchestras, ranking right up there near the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chicago, New York, and San Francisco Symphonies, among others. Its presence may not be as dominant as some of the illustrious European ensembles from Berlin, Amsterdam, Dresden, Leipzig, and London, but the Pittsburgh ensemble play with precision, and they sound as rich and lush as any you'll find.

In terms of the symphony's coupling, be aware that many discs don't even include additional selections. In Honeck's case, he has chosen to provide a suite, the Rusalka Fantasy, from Antonin Dvorak's opera Rusalka (arranged by Tomas Ille and Honeck himself). Maybe because I've heard the Tchaikovsky done so often by so many conductors, I couldn't appreciate Honeck's performance of it as much as I enjoyed his Dvorak; and I didn't have as much with which to compare the Dvorak. Whatever, Dvorak's music comes off with a delightful charm and joyful grace.

Producer Dirk Sobotka and engineers Mark Donahue and John Newton (all of Soundmirror, Boston) recorded the music live at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA in April 2015. They made it in hybrid SACD to play back in multichannel or two-channel from an SACD player and two-channel from a regular CD player. I listened in two-channel SACD.

The sound they obtained is about what we might expect from a live recording. It's close-up, of course, although not to the extent of some live recordings, and the engineers probably did it to minimize audience noise, making everything sound just a little bigger than life. Dynamics are huge, clarity is excellent, the response appears smooth and well balanced, and the frequencies seem well extended. It's just sort of an irony of live recordings that to me they most often don't sound as "live" as a studio recording (or one without an audience). Compared to the studio productions Reference Recordings have made over the years, this "Fresh!" live one doesn't quite project the dimensions of the concert hall, the ambience, the warmth, or the presence of RR's best non-live discs.

However, that's just me. Other listeners will, I'm sure, disagree and find the sound of this recording a delight--vigorous and detailed. It is certainly more than adequate, and RR have gratefully spared us any applause.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, April 15, 2017

Classical Music Meets Classic California at 47th Annual Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, FESTIVAL MOZAIC Music Director Scott Yoo transforms the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture. July 19-30, 2017, will lead a group of more than 50 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 (or SLO, as the locals call it), combining music with classic California architecture, food and wine.

Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on historic Highway 1, SLO was named "Happiest City in North America" by National Geographic and Oprah Winfrey and Wine Enthusiast Magazine named neighboring Paso Robles "2013 Wine Region of the Year." Award-winning wine and farm-to-fork cuisine are both fueled by SLO's close proximity to California's agricultural epicenter, and play a big part in the Festival's events.

From Bach and beyond to Mozart and more, Festival Mozaic presents nationally and internationally renowned musicians in beautiful venues all over San Luis Obispo County. Founded in 1971 as the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Festival Mozaic is one of the oldest and most respected classical music festivals in the West. Taking place in July, with additional concerts throughout the year, the Festival offers more than 30 events in San Luis Obispo County's most charismatic spaces.

The Festival presents four different types of events – Orchestra (conducted by music director Scott Yoo), Chamber Music (featuring performers like Steven Copes, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; cellist Brian Thornton, Cleveland Orchestra; bassoonist Fei Xie, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and others), a Notable Encounter series which is equal parts interactive performance and education, and our Fringe series, featuring classically-trained musicians playing in innovative crossover ensembles (like string trio Simply Three, Celtic violin/guitar duo Fire and Grace, and pianist/composer Stephen Prutsman).

Like any good festival, we also present an array of master classes, midday mini-concerts and open rehearsals. Unlike many festivals, we present in 16 venues over an entire county (100 square miles), including a 1772 California Mission, state-of-the-art performance halls, fruit ranches, wineries, historic adobes, farms and private homes. Located in the heart of the up-and-coming Central Coast wine region, an area that has been called the "Rivieria of the U.S.," our festival has been growing steadily in stature and renown over the past few years. Our 2017 season will take place July 19-30.

Here's a video of Festival Mozaic from last summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8h70euHuzI.

For complete information, visit www.FestivalMozaic.com

--Liz Dodder & Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette on "Great Performances"
Hailed by The New York Times for singing "with white-hot sensuality and impassioned lyricism," Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo star as the tragic lovers in Shakespeare's classic story. Gounod's Roméo et Juliette airs on "Great Performances at the Met" Friday, April 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS.

The Met's new production by director Bartlett Sher also features Virginie Verrez as Stéphano, Elliot Madore as Mercutio, and Mikhail Petrenko as Frère Laurent. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the sumptuous score.

For more information and preview, visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-romeo-et-juliette-opera/6743/

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Ravinia Creates Role of Conductor Laureate for James Levine
Longtime Music Director James Levine will renew his summer residency, conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and leading master classes at Ravinia's Steans Music Institute.

Ravinia has created the role of Conductor Laureate--a title reserved for an exalted musician whose eminent leadership has formed and shaped an institution's artistic quality over time--for James Levine, recognizing him as one of the most significant conductors in history, announced Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman today. Levine served as Music Director of Ravinia for 21 years (1973–93), almost as long as the combined tenures of the festival's three other music directors (Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, and James Conlon). The five-year appointment has an evergreen renewal.

"Every presenter strives to share the world's greatest artists with their audiences, and this historic appointment is prime proof of Ravinia's devotion to the music, the listeners, and to the man himself," Kauffman said. "Ravinia's love of Levine has shone brightly for decades, and we're thrilled that this exciting new Levine Residency demonstrates that the feeling is mutual."

In this new role, Levine will conduct multiple programs in his two-week annual residency, as part of the CSO's six-week summer residency, beginning in 2018.

"Ravinia commands the ideal resources, a superb orchestra and chorus in a welcoming environment, for live audiences to experience music's rich and varied masterworks," Levine said. "I look forward to sharing this music and my lifelong love for it with Ravinia audiences over the next several summers."

Levine returns to Ravinia on Aug. 8 this season to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn's The Creation.

Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035 Tel: (847) 266-5100.

--Allie Brightwell, Press Ravinia

SIGN & SING, New York Opera Fest
SIGN & SING, a nonprofit performance program that reimagines classical music with American Sign Language (ASL), is proud to invite you to our upcoming event on Sunday, May 21st at 3pm at Symphony Space, NYC.

Can a statue of Venus come alive? Can a vagabond find a travel companion? SIGN & SING's "Explorations" examines three stories of love and travel, reimagining great works of classical music in sung English and American Sign Language (ASL). These works - Heggie and McNally's "At the Statue of Venus," Vaughan Williams and Stevenson's "Songs of Travel," and Elgar's "Sea Pictures" - will be performed on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 3pm at Symphony Space. A post-show meet-and-greet will occur at Bar Thalia.

Open captions and Jacoti-Lola assisted listening devices will be provided. Symphony Space is ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible.

To buy tickets, click here: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/9616/Music/sign-sing-explorations

Performers:
Vagabonds: Treshelle Edmond, James W. Guido, Suchan Kim
Seafarers: Tal Heller, Ren
Rose: Alexa Jarvis
Rose's Date: Christopher Tester
Venus: Beth Applebaum
Pianists: Alla Milchtein, Artyom Pak, Thomas Weaver

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

--Katharine Dubbs, Sign & Sing

American Bach Soloists Present Handel's La Resurrezione
The American Bach Soloists' 2017 subscription season concludes with Handel's La Resurrezione, a monumental sacred oratorio based on the events from the Saturday after the crucifixion to Easter Sunday. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas conducts performances in the Bay Area and Davis from May 5-8, 2017.

As a young composer in his early twenties, George Frideric Handel traveled to Rome and Venice to learn from the Italian masters of his day, and within only a few months he surpassed their abilities. In Rome, he composed and produced La Resurrezione, a truly "operatic" oratorio, that scandalized the Vatican (opera was prohibited in Rome by Papal edict at the time) yet assured his place as the new master of Italian operatic style. Heaven and Hell—embodied in an Angel and Lucifer—battle for supremacy on earth through this dramatic telling of the emotions and convictions of Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleophas, and John the Evangelist.

Friday, May 5, 2017, 8:00 pm – St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA
Saturday, May 6, 2017, 8:00 pm – First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4:00 pm – St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
Monday, May 8, 2017, 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis, CA
Tickets: $33-$85 / americanbach.org / (415) 621-7900

--American Bach Soloists

Plácido Domingo Stars in a New Met Role, the Title King in Verdi's Nabucco
The legendary Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met as the title king in Nabucco, under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine on "Great Performances at the Met" Sunday, May 7 on PBS.

Nabucco was originally seen live in movie theaters on January 7 as part of the groundbreaking "The Met: Live in HD" series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The "Live in HD" series has reached a record-breaking 22 million viewers since its inception in 2006.

For complete information on this and other "Great Performances" programs visit "Great Performances" online at www.pbs.org/gperf.

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Performs Bach Marathon at 92Y
On Saturday, April 22, American cellist Alisa Weilerstein returns to 92Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall and gives a marathon performance of Bach's complete Suites for Solo Cello. Recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship, Ms. Weilerstein has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice with intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics since 2010, she is the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in more than 30 years.

Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7 p.m.
92Y - Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC

For more information, visit http://www.92y.org/event/alisa-weilerstein

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

NYOA Announces April 27 Kickoff Event for the Second Annual New York Opera Fest
The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA) will officially launch their second annual New York Opera Fest with a kickoff event on Thursday April 27th, from 6-8PM, at Marc A. Scorca Hall in the National Opera Center (330 Seventh Ave at 29th St). The event will honor opera star Lauren Flanigan for her exceptional service to the opera community of NYC (the inaugural award last year went to Fred Plotkin), and will also feature performances from the following New York Opera Fest participants:

Regina Opera, Donizetti's L'Elisir d' amour
Opera Mission, William Bolcom's Behind the Mind
American Opera Projects, Robert Paterson's Three Way
Sign & Sing, Jake Heggie's At the Statue of Venus
Rhymes With Opera Bonnie Lander's Coping Mechanisms
Opera Upper West Side, Tome Cipullo's Glory Denied
Opera on Tap, Parksville Murders Behind the Scenes Look
Opera Rox, New Works
Bronx Opera, Verdi's Falstaff

The event is free and open to the public, though attendees must RSVP by April 20 at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/278534352559785/

The second inaugural New York Opera Fest (nyoperafest.com) a two-month celebration of New York's vibrant and varied opera community throughout May and June, 2017, with over 20 companies putting on more than 30 events in venues around the city. In addition to performances, the fest 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.

For more information, visit http://nyoperafest.com

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Haydn & Hummel: Trumpet Concertos (CD review)

Also, Albinoni: Concerto "Saint Marc"; Torelli: Sonata a Cinque. Martin Berinbaum, trumpet; Johannes Somary, English Chamber Orchestra. Vanguard SVC-136.

I've never met a recording of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E flat major I didn't like. Since first hearing the work as a teenager over fifty years ago, I've probably heard dozens of recordings of Joseph Haydn's Concerto, and I admit I've liked them all. Oh, there have been extreme variations in matters of sound and tempo and such, to be sure, as with the comparisons I'll make in a minute, but the performances have always seemed to come up right. Can't say why. Maybe I find the piece so charming I just can't not like it, no matter what. In any case, this 2000 reissue from Vanguard featuring a young Martin Berinbaum on trumpet appears as beautifully played as any and has the advantage of good, lucid sound and sensible accompaniment.

OK, so Mr. Berinbaum isn't quite so young anymore, but he was when he recorded this program in 1972. The booklet note tells us that the recording "was selected to be one of 500 albums in the 'President's Collection' at the White House." It certainly rates such a distinction; Berinbaum plays with grace and refinement, plus an infectiously joyous spirit.

Martin Berinbaum
Like many other discs, this one couples the Haydn with Johann Hummel's Trumpet Concerto, a piece equally appealing in its own way and equally well played by Berinbaum and company. In addition, the issue includes two short baroque works for trumpet, the Concerto "Saint Marc" by Tommaso Albinoni and the Sonata a Cinque, No. 7 by Giuseppe Torelli, the latter a solo number for trumpet, four strings, and continuo. The timings for all four works on the disc still don't add up to much, a little less than fifty minutes, but the interpretations are well worth one's while.

The 1972 analogue recording dates from a period when the English Chamber Orchestra were in extraordinarily good form. It's the era when Daniel Barenboim recorded so much good Mozart with the group. Here, the late Johannes Somary leads them in exemplary, highly satisfying performances. Moreover, the orchestra's playing is alert to Somary's elegant yet lively direction.

Vanguard's 24-bit remastered sound makes the orchestra seem very slightly top heavy but overall quite clear, with the sound of the trumpet near perfect. There is only the faintest trace of roughness in the highest frequencies to betray the disc's age. I'd say if you have a stereo system inclined toward brightness, you might find the recording a bit edgy, but if your system projects a fairly smooth, well-balanced sonic image, you should find the recording sounding quite natural and transparent throughout its range.

Two other CDs I had on hand at the time of this review, Schwarz on Delos and Marsalis on Sony, sounded a bit soft and veiled by comparison. All of which is to suggest that this Vanguard reissue is a treasure.

JJP

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


Ginastera: One Hundred (CD review)

Yolanda Kondonassis, harp; Gil Shaham, violin; Ori Shaham, piano; Jason Vieaus, guitar; Raphael Jimenez, Oberlin Orchestra. Oberlin Music OC 16-04.

"Beauty is the emergence of a spiritual climate in which each artist is transfigured through the impulse of creation. In this climate, the work that springs forth from the depths of his soul, combining personal and shared elements of humanity, is purified and becomes translucent and clear. It becomes universal." --Alberto Ginastera

A few years ago I reviewed a Naxos recording of Ginastera's cello concertos, and I remember the back of the jewel box saying, "Alberto Ginastera was one of the most admired and respected musical voices of the twentieth century, who successfully fused the strong traditional influences of his national heritage with experimental, contemporary, and classical techniques." That made me feel rather uninformed at the time because I could only remember hearing a single piece of music by the man before that, an old recording of the Harp Concerto with Zabaleta. Maybe the composer is finally getting his due.

Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) was an Argentinean composer who studied with Aaron Copland and among whose students was tango composer Astor Piazzolla. What surprised me in reading about Ginastera is that an old rock track familiar to me, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Toccata," the group adapted from Ginastera's First Piano Concerto. It's remarkable how things in this world are so intertwined, yet we may not even know about them.

Anyway, what we have in the present disc is a 2016 celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of Ginastera's birth. There are four pieces represented on the disc, starting with the biggest (orchestra and soloist), longest (about twenty-five minutes), and arguably most popular of his works, the aforementioned Harp Concerto, Op. 25, this time performed by Yolanda Kondonassis, harp, accompanied by Raphael Jimenez and the Oberlin Orchestra. Ginastera wrote it in 1956 and revised it in 1968.

Yolanda Kondonassis
Ms. Kondonassis plays it with sensitivity and feeling, bringing out its more Romantic qualities of lyricism and melody. Yet she never shies from adding sparks to the livelier interludes. The orchestra play with enthusiasm, Jimenez providing a good rhythmic punch throughout the work's more-energetic segments.

The next three selections are brief duets or solos, starting with Pampeana No. 1, Op. 16 (1946), played by Gil Shaham, violin, and Orli Shaham, piano. They play it as a sort of slow, intricate lament, the two performers engaging in a conversation neither old-fashioned nor completely modern yet always compelling. This is modern music that doesn't sound at all modern nor dated and gets especially heated about halfway through. Beautifully executed.

Then there's the Sonata for Guitar, Op. 47 (1976), with Jason Vieaux, guitar, and Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2 (1937), with Orli Shaham, piano. They, too, appear well rendered, the soloists providing virtuosity, color, passion, and sentiment to the music in equal measure.

Incidentally, the booklet notes contains several insightful, well-written essays on Ginastera and his style. They are worth a read.

Producers Yolanda Kondonassis and Erica Brenner and engineers Paul Eachus and Lawrence Rock recorded the music at the Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, Ohio in November 2015 and February 2016 and at the Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY in February 2016. The sound obtained in the concerto is nicely focused and wide spread, with a moderate orchestral depth, good dynamics, and a fairly decent balance among the instruments. Nice bass and percussion, too. Fun stuff. There is a light ambient glow that slightly softens the sonic definition, but it's only a minor veiling and actually enhances most of the music. The duet and solos also sound realistic enough, the violin and piano combination never seeming too close or too distant. The solos, though, I found a bit too near, even if their closeness increases the clarity of the instruments.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, April 8, 2017

Musica Viva NY Presents An Elegy for All Humanity

Musica Viva NY, led by Artistic Director Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, closes its 2016-2017 season on Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue, NYC, with An Elegy for All Humanity, featuring a performance of Brahms' German-language masterpiece, Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) in a rarely heard chamber ensemble arrangement by Joachim Linckelmann with the Musica Viva NY choir and soloists soprano Devony Smith and bass-baritone Joseph Beutel.

Also on the program is prolific pianist and composer Seymour Bernstein's cantata Song of Nature--inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, "Nature"--in a new arrangement by Dr. Hernandez-Valdez, narrated by David Rockefeller, Jr.

Preceding the concert is a screening of Ethan Hawke's acclaimed documentary Seymour: An Introduction, a warm and witty tribute to Seymour Bernstein, as he shares stories from his life, together with insightful reflections on art, creativity, and the search for fulfillment. The screening takes place at 2:30 p.m. in Reidy Friendship Hall at All Souls Church, NYC, followed by a Q&A session with Bernstein.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva NY--a chamber choir of thirty professionals and highly skilled volunteers--is driven by a desire to share the transcendent power of choral and instrumental music with audiences in New York City and beyond. With a broad repertoire that includes new compositions and classic masterworks, Musica Viva NY emphasizes artistic excellence and transformative interpretations to ennoble the human spirit; its imaginative programming offers joy, solace and renewal in a complex world.

Tickets, priced at $30, which include admission to the documentary screening, are available by visiting http://musicaviva.org/tickets/ or can be purchased at the door.

For complete information, visit http://musicaviva.org/

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Artis-Naples Announces 2017-18 Subscription Season
Artis-Naples, Naples, Florida, will continue to explore the intersections and divergences of the arts in an ambitious subscription season, which CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen announced today. A unique organization, Artis-Naples encompasses both performing and visual arts,including the Naples Philharmonic, The Baker Museum, the Naples International Film Festival and robust educational and community initiatives.

The newly announced subscription series include 10 Masterworks programs, 10 chamber music programs, eight jazz programs, five dance programs including three repertory programs with Miami City Ballet and an increase to five Pops programs. The four-performance Visiting Orchestra series was previously announced.

"I am delighted to celebrate the breadth and depth of artistic expression through concerts, lectures and exhibitions," van Bergen said. "Our season provides a multitude of opportunities across the creative spectrum for cultural enrichment through exceptional artistic offerings."

The season revolves around two themes: "Languages of Art" and "Evolution/Revolution," which will be explored across series and artistic disciplines.

"This season, through performances, visual arts and lectures, we are excited to explore the vocabulary artists use to express their ideas as well as the subtle or dramatic ways art forms change over time," says Sharon and Timothy Ubben Music Director Andrey Boreyko.

Home of the Baker Museum and the Naples Philharmonic, Artis-Naples is unique among cultural institutions nationwide, equally dedicated to both the performing and visual arts featuring artists of global distinction.

For complete information, visit http://artisnaples.org/

--Jonathan Foerster, Artis-Naples

See Nic's 25-Year Dream Come to Life
After three years of planning, Rameau's Le Temple de la Gloire is almost here. While PBO has performed in many fully staged opera productions in the past, we have never initiated one of our own. Until now.

This project has been a dream of Nicholas McGegan's since he first learned of the existence of the original manuscript score and libretto (by Voltaire) for Le Temple de la Gloire at UC Berkeley's Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library. It is the only existing copy of the 1745 version of this Rameau opera.

"Being able, finally, to be part of a fully staged production of Le Temple de la Gloire is the fulfilment of a dream for me. Nearly 25 years ago, Philharmonia recorded some of the dance music from this magnificent score and now we are at last able to mount this major production," says McGegan.

If you don't have tickets to see Rameau's Le Temple de la Gloire this April 28-30 at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA, learn more and get tickets here: https://calperformances.org/performances/2016-17/world-premieres/philharmonia-baroque-orchestra-rameau-le-temple-de-la-gloire.php

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

The Crypt Sessions Presents Cellist Joshua Roman, May 3
The Crypt Sessions Season 2 continues on May 3, 2017 with American cellist Joshua Roman performing a solo recital which begins in darkness with Bach's spare, haunting Suite No. 2 in D Minor, before moving through sonatas by György Ligeti and George Crumb - both written during the period of lovestruck adolescence, with music that alternates between shaded meditation and stormy intensity - and finishing with a composition of his of his own, the transcendently radiant "Riding Light."

Roman performed in the Crypt with Gregg Kallor in last season's finale concert of "The Tell-Tale Heart," and his playing was praised by Berkshire Fine Arts, saying: "Roman is a musician who can afford to expose his talent in long drawn out single tones..often miraculously drawn from his instrument."

For more information, visit http://deathofclassical.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Emerson String Quartet Celebrates 40th Anniversary at Carnegie Hall
The world-renowned Emerson String Quartet returns to Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium on May 7 at 3 PM for a performance of Ravel and Berg Quartets and the Brahms Quintet with internationally acclaimed pianist Yefim Bronfman.  Presented by Carnegie Hall, this marks the final celebration of Emerson String Quartet's 40th Anniversary -- a major milestone for this ground-breaking ensemble, named "America's greatest quartet" by TIME Magazine. The Emerson Quartet continues to perform with the same benchmark integrity, energy and commitment that it has demonstrated since it was formed in 1976, and its 40th-Anniversary season reflects all aspects of the Quartet's venerable artistry with high-profile projects and collaborations, commissions and recordings.

On April 21 the Quartet releases its latest album, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell , the first release on Universal Music Classics' new US classical record label, Decca Gold. Eugene Drucker says of this album "it's hard to believe that the music on this CD spans almost three centuries, ranging from Purcell's surprisingly pungent harmonies to Britten's distinctive voice: pitched outside the mainstream of European modernism, experimental yet deeply rooted in his extensive knowledge of older music, drawing inspiration from and breathing new life into old forms."

On June 17 at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Emerson Quartet joins hands and minds with acclaimed theatrical writer-director James Glossman to present the world premiere of the opera "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy." Accompanied by an ensemble of seven actors, this ambitious production combines Anton Chekhov's mystical story "The Black Monk" and Dmitri Shostakovich's 14th and 15th String Quartets to weave a tale of art, love, madness and freedom. Subsequent performances take place at Tanglewood and Princeton University.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY

For more information, visit http://www.emersonquartet.com/

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Orion Concludes Season with "Wit and Passion" in May
The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, welcomes back guest violist Stephen Boe for a program of "Wit and Passion" to conclude its 24th season. Performances take place May 21 at First Baptist Church of Geneva; May 24 at the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago--joined by a quintet from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras; and May 28 at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Wit and Passion" takes place Sunday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, May 24, with CYSO quintet Zephyrus, at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Single tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and $10 for students; admission is free for children 12 and younger. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit orionensemble.org.

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents Quicksilver on May 12 and 13
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) concludes its tenth anniversary season with two performances by virtuosic chamber ensemble Quicksilver on Friday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. at King Manor Museum in Jamaica, Queens, NY and on Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY.

The program, entitled "Off the Beaten Track": Chamber Works from Moravia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and beyond, explores the music of the seventeenth century at the nexus of folk music and early modern chamber music from countries beyond central Europe, including rarely heard works by van Wichel, Mielczewski, Schmelzer, Kempis, and Fux.

Last seen at 5BMF in the 2010-11 season, Quicksilver--led by Julie Andrijeski (violin) and  Robert Mealy (violin) and featuring Dominic Teresi (dulcian), Avi Stein (harpsichord), and Charles Weaver (theorbo and guitar)--continues to dedicate themselves to discovering and performing music from the early modern period to the High Baroque era.

For more information, visit www.quicksilverbaroque.com.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

New Century Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Inaugural Festival
New Century Chamber Orchestra concludes its 25th anniversary season with an inaugural, week-long festival at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco that celebrates the orchestra's illustrious history in three separate, one-night-only programs. These performances also mark Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg's final appearances as music director following nine seasons of leadership and artistic innovation.

The festival opens on May 16 with an homage to the orchestra's Featured Composer Program and highlights a selection of works by William Bolcom, Clarice Assad, Mark O'Connor, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Lera Auerbach, Michael Daugherty, Derek Bermel and Jennifer Higdon. Salerno-Sonnenberg appears as soloist in a farewell tribute on May 18 performing the entirety of Vivaldi's Four Seasons alongside Piazzolla's Seasons of Buenes Aires. The festival closes on May 20 with an all-Gershwin program that features the rarely-performed, 1926 theater orchestra version of Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott as soloist. New Century also welcome the return of special guest artists soprano Melody Moore and baritone Efraín Solís for a selection of Gershwin favorites from the Great American Songbook.

Discounted festival passes range from $52 to $155. Call (415) 357-1111, ext. 305, or visit www.ncco.org to purchase. Single tickets range in price from $29 to $61 and are available for purchase through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for students with a valid ID.

For further information on New Century, please visit www.ncco.org.

--Brenden Guy, NCCO

Upcoming Events for International Contemporary Ensemble
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) continues to transform the way music is created and experienced through several upcoming events throughout New York City in April. On Tuesday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m., ICE collaborates with French new-music group Ensemble Itinéraire, exploring the Spectralism movement and its impact on today's composers. The program reflects the musical traditions of both ensembles with works by both French and American composers including the world premiere of Christopher Trapani's PolychROME, commissioned by ICE, Philippe Leroux's De l'Épaisseur, Gerard Grisey's Périodes and Anubis et Nout, and Ashley Fure's Something to Hunt.

Following the concert at Roulette, from Wednesday, April 26 to Sunday, April 30, ICE returns to the Abrons Arts Center for three workshops and four concerts, as part of its free OpenICE initiative. Composer Wojtek Blecharz discusses and demonstrates selections from his new commission for ICE musicians through workshops on Wednesday, April 26 at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, April 27 at 10:00 a.m., and Friday, April 28 at 11:00 a.m.

ICE bassoonist Rebekah Heller is featured in a solo concert with a world premiere by Edgar Guzman on Wednesday, April 26 at 8:00 p.m. The performance also includes a guest appearance by ICE saxophonist Ryan Muncy. ICE reunites with Ensemble Itinéraire on Friday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m. in a "side-by-side" concert of electroacoustic music featuring works by Pauline Oliveros, Francesca Verunelli, Chiyoko Szlavnics, and White/Waves by Sky Macklay, an ICEcommons.org selection.

The following evening, Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m., members of ICE are featured in previous ICELab commissioning program participant He Cuts Snow by Sabrina Shcroeder, a previous ICELab commissioning program participant. Also on the program is Wojtek Blecharz's music for invisible places, and Simon Steen-Andersen's On and Off and To and Fro. April's OpenICE events conclude with a concert featuring soprano Tony Arnold, and ICE pianist Jacob Greenberg on Sunday, April 30 at 3:00 p.m. performing Olivier Messiaen's Poémes Pour Mi, a new work by Amy Williams for soprano and Indian harmonium, and Helmut Lachenmann's Got Lost.

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

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Jeffrey Thomas To Give Free ABS Master Class on Monday April 10th
The third in the 2017 series of American Bach Soloists Free Master Classes will take place next Monday evening on April 10th at 7:30 p.m. in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street at Van Ness, San Francisco, CA.

Three of the San Francisco Conservatory's finest students in their Early Music program will perform for the audience and Maestro Thomas.

Free Admission. Works by Handel, Haydn, & Purcell.

For more information, visit http://americanbach.org/Insights_Master_Classes.html

--American Bach Soloists

Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra (CD review)

Also, Till Eulenspiegel; Salome's Dance; Don Juan. Herbert von Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Decca Legends 289 466 388-2.

It would be perverse of me to criticize what has become an audio classic over the years, especially Herbert von Karajan's 1959 recording of German composer Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. A snippet of the music, the Introduction, probably reached more listeners via Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey than anything else by Strauss in history, and this is the very recording Kubrick used.

The tone poem became so famous thanks to Kubrick's use of Karajan's recording that a joke arose about how you can always tell an audiophile because he only plays the Zarathustra Introduction. Anyway, I'll confine most of my few remarks to Decca's remastered sound of the performance.

Herbert von Karajan
I should mention, however, that all of the performances on the disc are pure Karajan: grand, imposing, sensual, romantic, and luxuriant, with the playing of Vienna Philharmonic always full and rich. Of the four works on the disc, I happen to prefer his Don Juan best for its exciting forward drive and reflective vision. Of the man's three stereo versions of Zarathustra, the second (DG) seems to me more luminous than this earlier one, as well as better detailed (if not, as I say, better known).

Famed Decca producer John Culshaw framed the sound for Decca's Zarathustra as carefully as always, making the Karajan disc just after he had done the same for Georg Solti's Wagner Ring cycle. Culshaw brought the same meticulous expertise to the production as always, creating an expansive sonic picture that for quite a while remained an audiophile demo piece. While I had always found it a bit hard in its vinyl and early CD forms, with this 2000 release Decca remastered it as a part of their mid-priced "Legends" series, and it comes off more comfortably than before. What we get is a smoother, slightly warmer, slightly softer image, yet one that contrasts more than ever with its discernibly rough, noisy background. It's still not entirely satisfactory to me in another way, too, because it seems to lack the life and dynamism I remember from the earlier vinyl and CD editions. I suppose one cannot have everything.

Decca recorded the couplings--Till Eulenspiegel, Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils, and Don Juan--a year later, 1960, and here they appear a bit brighter and better defined than ever. Decca's packaging includes the record's original cover art, which is nice, and they have made the CD itself look like a reel of recording tape. These are clever touches for Karajan's very fine performances, notwithstanding the somewhat indifferent sound.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, April 2, 2017

Music Institute Presents Sergei Babayan May 5

The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes back celebrated pianist Sergei Babayan, in a co-presentation as part of the 44th annual Bach Week festival, May 5 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

On a program featuring the Bach Week Festival Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Richard Webster, Babayan performs Bach's Concerto in E Major BWF 1053 and Concerto for Two Keyboards in C minor, BWV 1062, joined on the latter by pianist Grace Fong. Other soloists include Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn, performing Suite No. 2 in D minor for Unaccompanied Cello, MWV 1008, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra flutist Jennifer Gunn, performing Partita in A minor for Unaccompanied Flute, BWV 1013.

A pre-concert lecture with Carl Grapentine, morning program host on Chicago's classical music station WFMT, takes place at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, available by calling 847.905.1500 or at musicinst.org/faculty-guest-artist-series. All programming is subject to change. For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Honens Names Pianist Jon Kimura Parker Artistic Director
Canada's Honens International Piano Competition is pleased to announce the appointment of pianist Jon Kimura Parker as Artistic Director. Mr. Parker assumes his new role in January 2018.

"This is a historic day," said Honens President, Neil Edwards. "Jon Kimura Parker, apart from being one of the most highly respected pianists and teachers in the world, is a Canadian icon. A better fit for Honens I can't imagine. We look forward to 2018 with great anticipation."

Parker is one of Canada's most celebrated pianists, enjoying a multi-faceted international career performing with leading orchestras and in recital on the world's great concert stages. A committed educator, he is also Professor of Piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. Jon Kimura Parker has had a long relationship with Honens, having served on the 1992 and 2012 Competition juries. He values Honens' artistic philosophy of discovering a unique, imaginative and informed artist—an emerging Complete Artist whose distinctive voice, versatility and communication skills demonstrate the level of preparation required to embark upon a successful professional career.

"Honens represents the highest standards of what a piano competition should be. The triennial Competition and annual Festival have become focal points of artistic and musical expression for the city of Calgary and, indeed, for all of Canada. Having performed in Calgary for more than 30 years, I have always been met with the warmest possible welcome and a sense of joy in discovering the artistic possibilities of great piano music," said Jon Kimura Parker. "I am absolutely thrilled to become the Artistic Director of Honens. This is a beautifully-run organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the vast riches of piano music and to identifying young musicians who have artistic vision."

Honens discovers, nurtures and presents Complete Artists—21st century pianists for 21st century audiences. The Honens Piano Competition takes place every three years and is considered one of the world's most prestigious events of its kind. Honens prepares its Laureates for the rigors and realities of professional careers in music and creates opportunities for growth and exposure. The annual Honens Festival is one of Canada's premier piano events. The 2017 Honens Festival takes place in Calgary, September 8 to 11. The next Honens Piano Competition will be held in 2018.

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

"Wade in the Water" Concert Sunday, April 30
The Los Angeles Master Chorale puts spirituals at the forefront of a concert called "Wade in the Water" to be performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, April 30 at 7 PM. The concert features 13 songs with the spirituals juxtaposed with other folk music traditions such as early American shape note singing, as well as a contemporary Korean piece, and a pair of European choral masterpieces from the 20th century. The concert will feature 48 singers performing a cappella, conducted by Artistic Director Grant Gershon and Assistant Conductor Jenny Wong. The concert also provides an opportunity to highlight several of the Master Chorale's solo voices on the program.

Gershon said although they appear very different, there is a connection between all of the songs: "There is a kinship to all of these pieces that has to do with emotional directness and a spirituality that reflects inward. They share a lyricism and clarity that are natural and effortless."

Gershon said while choirs love to sing spirituals, they are often sung to close out a traditional choral concert or as an encore. With "Wade in the Water" he wanted to make them the touchstone of the program: "We'll hear spirituals reflecting the perspectives of an array of composers and arrangers and interacting with other music on an eclectic program, to reflect and deepen themes of music of the spirit and of renewal."

Tickets to the concert range from $29-$129 and are available by phone at 213-972-7282 or from lamasterchorale.org.

For more information, visit lamasterchorale.org

--Jennifer Scott, Director of Public Relations

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Annual Gala to Honor Robert F. Arning
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra hosts its Annual Gala on Thursday, May 4 at the Metropolitan Club. The evening honors Robert F. Arning, Vice Chair of Market Development at KPMG, the fastest-growing "Big Four" professional services firm worldwide. The evening celebrates the long-standing partnership between Orpheus and KPMG, marking the shared ideals of collaboration, innovation, and excellence on a global stage. With the help of Mr. Arning and KPMG's advocacy, Orpheus has developed a unique cultural niche both in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in Japan where Orpheus has toured for over twenty-five years, enjoying close connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Sendai.

"We're very proud to honor the continued commitment that Robert Arning has to our orchestra," said Orpheus Executive Director Alexander Scheirle. "Thanks to Robert's tireless advocacy for Orpheus, we are able to continue to share our unique artistry and model of music-making in New York City and around the world."

The gala features a private performance by Orpheus, joined by double bassist and the recent winner of prestigious 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Xavier Foley.

The May 4th gala includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6:15 p.m., followed by the private concert, dinner, and a silent auction featuring a range of unique experiences and luxury items. Gala tables are priced at $100,000, $75,000, $50,000, $30,000, and $17,500, and include a table of ten guests at the dinner along with tiered benefits. Pairs of tickets can be purchased for $5,000 and individual gala tickets are $2,500.

More information on table/ticket reservation and silent auction can be found by calling the Development Office at 212-896-1713 or by visiting www.orpheusnyc.org/support/annual-gala.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Bang on a Can Marathon at Brooklyn Museum
Bang on a Can announces the complete lineup and schedule for its 30th Anniversary Bang on a Can Marathon, presented for the first time at Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 2-10pm in the Museum's Beaux-Arts Court. This incomparable super-mix of boundary-busting music from around the corner and around the world features eight hours of rare performances by some of the most innovative musicians of our time side-by-side with some of today's most pioneering young artists.

In its 30th year, Bang on a Can is committed more than ever to an increasing and inclusive worldwide community dedicated to innovation through music – a world where ideas flow freely across boundaries whether they are musical, geographical, spiritual. Co-founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe explain, "Thirty years ago we started dreaming of the world we wanted to live in. It would be a kind of utopia for music: all the boundaries between composers would come down, all the boundaries between genres would come down, all the boundaries between musicians and audience would come down. Then we started trying to build it. Building a utopia is a political act – it pushes people to change. It is also an act of resistance to the things that keep us apart."

Brooklyn Museum: 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
Marathon Admission: Free with Brooklyn Museum admission
Museum admission free after 5pm courtesy of Target First Saturday
Information: 718.852.7755 or www.bangonacan.org

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Basque National Orchestra Announces Robert Trevino's Inaugural Season
It's a new era at the Basque National Orchestra. That much was clear at a press conference held this week in San Sebastian, where the orchestra has its base (though they are resident in cities across the Basque Country). Oriol Roch, the orchestra's General Manager, was presenting not only the 2017/18 season, but music lovers' first insight into the programming philosophy of Roch's big new hire, incoming Music Director Robert Trevino.

Much is expected of the highly-rated young American conductor and, Trevino and Roch both made clear, the new season would be varied, entertaining, adventurous and consequential. "Music can be transformative," Trevino has said, "and the making of music is an all-consuming effort. The world we live in is full of joys and substantial challenges. I believe humanity demands of we artists to look around at the world and inspire, elevate, console and reflect. We see in the world violence and division; but we also see everywhere humanity's capacity for love, for the creation of beauty. With music, it's possible to redicover who and what we can be together. This is what we in music, whether we be making music or listening to it, must keep in mind, and that's how it can come to have a positive impact in the world." Therefore, he announced, this first season will be guided by a theme of resistance and reconciliation.

For full season details, please see the Basque National Orchestra's Web site: http://www.euskadikoorkestra.es/es/default.asp

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

California Symphony Announces 2017-18 Concert Programs
The California Symphony announced its 2017-18 season, its thirty-first, and its fifth with Music Director Donato Cabrera.

The season includes a world premiere and a West Coast premiere, first performances of Mozart's Requiem and Sibelius's Third Symphony, the first performances in more than 20 years of Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, the first performance of a work of Mahler's since the Orchestra's 1997-98 season. The Orchestra also welcomes guest soloists Haochen Zhang in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2; soprano Maria Valdes in Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and in Mahler's Symphony No. 4; and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Alexi Kenney. The Orchestra gives the world premiere of new Young American Composer-in-Residence Katherine Balch's newest work, a California Symphony commission; and performs two works by Bay Area-based composer Nathaniel Stookey: the West Coast premiere of YTTE (Yield to Total Elation), and The Composer is Dead, the popular orchestral whodunit by Stookey and author Lemony Snicket, with Broadway star Manoel Felciano as narrator. Other highlights include performances with the San Francisco Conservatory Chorus and conductor Ragnar Bohlin of Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Arvo Pärt's Te Deum, as part of the Mozart Requiem concert, and a performance of Smetana's Vltava (Die Moldau).

Following a tremendously successful 2016-17 season, in which it experienced large increases in sales, donations, and subscription renewal rates, the Orchestra also announced it is expanding the number of concerts it performs in the 2017-18 season, with three new Saturday night concerts at the Lesher Center for the Arts, in addition to its Sunday afternoon concerts. Diablo Regional Arts Association is the presenting sponsor of the California Symphony's new Saturday night concert series.

Subscription ticket package prices for the California Symphony's 2017-18 season range from $99 to $288 and are on sale today to renewing subscribers and the general public. Season subscribers can save up to 40% and choose their own season with 3-, 4-, or 5-concert packages, including the new Saturday night series. Tickets can be purchased through the California Symphony's website at www.californiasymphony.org and at 925-280-2490. All regular season 2017-18 California Symphony concerts will go on sale to buyers of individual concert tickets on July 27.

The California Symphony's 2017-18 season opens Sunday, September 24 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, with Cabrera leading the Orchestra in its first music by Gustav Mahler in 20 years: Mahler's Symphony No. 4, with soprano Maria Valdes as soloist. Valdes also performs in Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship program, she makes her debut with the Orchestra in this concert. The West Coast premiere of Bay Area-based composer Nathaniel Stookey's YTTE (Yield To Total Elation), which Cabrera premiered with the Las Vegas Philharmonic in January 2017, completes the program.

For more information, please visit www.californiasymphony.org

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Lawrence Brownlee Joins Opera Philadelphia as Artistic Advisor
Opera Philadelphia announced today that Lawrence Brownlee, whose lead performance in the 2015 world premiere of Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD kick started the company's "big commitment to new repertoire" (The Wall Street Journal), has joined the company as an Artistic Advisor. In this position, Brownlee will work with General Director & President David B. Devan and Corrado Rovaris, the Jack Mulroney Music Director, to advise and advocate for expanded repertoire, provide insights on diversity in artistic practices and community initiatives, and collaborate with senior management in identifying and securing financial support for the company.

Brownlee's "stunningly voiced Parker" (Opera News) in June 2015 affirmed Opera Philadelphia's mission as a 21st-century opera company that inspires artists to create their most imaginative work that resonates and excites a varied audience. The superstar tenor, one of the most in-demand singers around the world, led an acclaimed 2016 production of the opera at The Apollo Theater in Harlem and just wrapped a celebrated interpretation of Parker with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (March 24-26). He will next sing the European premiere with English National Opera at Hackney Empire in London (June 9-17). His experience with the role of Parker sparked his interest in working with Opera Philadelphia's artistic team.

"I'm honored and humbled to join the extraordinary team at Opera Philadelphia, and in my role as Artistic Advisor, I look forward to working with them towards their mission of moving the art form forward and changing the very notion of what opera can be," said Lawrence Brownlee.

Learn more at lawrencebrownlee.com and operaphila.org.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Kaija Saariaho's Opera "L'Amour de Loin" Comes to "Great Performances at the Met"
Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin ("Love From Afar"), one of the most highly praised operas of recent years, airs on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 2 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

The production, with a libretto by Amin Maalouf, had its Met premiere earlier this season in a production directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by Susanna Mälkki in her Met debut. Lepage's staging, which uses thousands of LED lights to create the sea that separates the opera's distant lovers, is a co-production with L'Opéra de Québec, where it premiered to accolades in the summer of 2015.

Susanna Phillips stars as Clémence, the Countess of Tripoli, opposite Eric Owens as Jaufré Rudel, a troubadour on a quest to find his perfect love, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries messages back and forth between them.

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Gatti and Viennese Traditions:
On this tour, with concerts in Budapest (17 April), Pavia (18 April), Bologna (19 April), Reggio Emilia (20 April) and Cremona (21 April), the MCO and Artistic Advisor Daniele Gatti explore two distinct sides of Vienna through a programme featuring works by Schubert and Webern while continuing their exploration of symphonic traditions.

Trifonov Plays Chopin:
This tour marks the MCO's debut with pianist Daniil Trifonov. In this all-Polish programme, Frédéric Chopin's piano concertos – in the version by Mikhail Pletnev, who will be conducting – are complemented by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz's Serenade for Strings and will be performed in Heidelberg (29 April), Dortmund (30 April) and Torino (2 May).

Coro II:
On this tour, the MCO reconvenes with Artistic Partner Teodor Currentzis and his MusicAeterna Choir for further performances, in Hamburg (29 May) and Saint-Denis (30 May), of two programmes performed on the Coro I tour.

For more information, visit http://www.mahlerchamber.com/

--Mahler Chamber Orchestra

FAYM Newsletter
On March 18th Foundation to Assist Young Muscians students performed in the Spring Concert.
FAYM Orchestra Director Tim Thomas believes that having music students perform has many benefits. Preparing for a concert not only provides students with a helpful short-term goal, it also challenges them to step up their game.

"I felt aware and was filled with excitement and my nerves were dancing the salsa!" --Alyda, Student
"Estoy tan orgullosa por el avance que veo en todos los niños. Es una emoción y una satisfacción tremenda estar en el programa que nos da FAYM. Gracias por todo!" --Yuri, Parent
"Huge improvement since fall!" --Ms. McFaddin, Teacher

You can support students like Diana, Aileen, and Liliana at our website: http://thefaym.org/donate/
FAYM keeps our costs low by relying on highly qualified volunteers to handle our administrative tasks. You can be sure that your donation will go directly to scholarship assistance, program support, and student lessons.

For more information, visit http://thefaym.org/

--Arturo (Art) Ochoa, FAYM Board President

Berkeley Symphony Performs Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar"
Guest conductor Christian Reif will lead Berkeley Symphony in Shostakovich's evening-long, epic Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar," on Thursday, May 4 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA.

The Orchestra is joined for the Berkeley Symphony's season finale performance by bass Denis Sedov and a men's chorus comprised of alumni of the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by chorusmaster Marika Kuzma. Reif is stepping in for Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro, who recently gave birth to triplets.

Tickets for the Berkeley Symphony concert on May 4 start at $15 and are available at www.berkeleysymphony.org or by phone at (510) 841-2800, ext. 1.

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

Mozert: Concerto for Three Hands and a Foot, "Hawaiian" (DDT review)

Also, Flat-Foot Floogie (with a Floy-Floy). D.G. Frump, lyre; Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III (Bart., Smpsn., O.B.E., W.A.N.); Buford (Wyoming) Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Sunny Classical BFD-911.

Most classical listeners today will  recognize the name Severus Octavian Siriasis Mozert better than that of his son and subject of this review, Ludvocio Ochozath Ludicrus Mozert. Be that as it may, we press onward.

L.O.L. Mozert (1753-1762) was born in the small Bavarian town of Mary-Kay-Upon-Avon in 1743 to the tune of an itinerant flue-pipe salesman. LOL's first notable achievement occurred during the Battle of Handly Fern, where young Ludvocio tried his hand at managing a self-serve restaurant, the War 'N Buffet, but failed handily. Later, he played hunchback at Notre Dame U. under the legendary coach, Urban Legend. When that didn't work out, however, it led to his greatest (and only) musical achievement, the chorale-prelude Concerto for Three Hands and a Foot in A-class lower-berth, "Hawaiian," co-written with his longtime attendant and accomplice, Warren Peece. Although Mozert wrote the work originally for penny whistle, we have heard it adapted over the years for any number of solo instruments, including but not limited to the tin whistle, the English flageolet, the tin flageolet, the Scottish penny whistle, the Irish whistle, the Belfast Hornpipe, the fleadóg stáin, and the Clarke London Flageolet. On the present recording, we hear it played on the lyre.

Lft. Sir Cedric Etc. Etc.
German-American-Scottish-Jamaican entrepreneur, bankruptcy lawyer, quiz-show host, reform-school graduate, and lyre exponent extraordinaire Domhnall Giovanni Frump performs the concerto with a haughty accord (or a Honda Accord if you're in the mood for some light traveling music). Ably accompanying Mr. Frump are Maestro Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III and the Buford (Wyoming) Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra (Don Sammons, strings; Don Sammons, winds; Don Sammons, brass; Don Sammons, percussion; Don Sammons, woodwinds and harp; Don Sammons, piano, celesta, and keyboards; Don Sammons, electronics; Don Sammons, wind machines; and Don Sammons, motor grinder). The orchestra also play with one accord, which may be the only car in town.

We interrupt the review in progress with an important word from our sponsor:

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We now return you to your regular programming.

Sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes.

Executive producer Robert Langdon, digital editor Henry Higgins, and chief engineer Harold Hill, known professionally as "The Three Professors," recorded the music in the main gallery of the Buford Town Post Office on April 1, 2017 (well, actually, it's on Interstate 80, but close enough). The sound they obtained one might charitably call bearable. The highs spring forth with the stagnancy of a spring bouquet in fall, permeating the air with a quercetic vapor redolent of soggy underwear on a summer day. The midrange carries the sonic image further into the realms of the preternatural with a transparency borne of dedicated attention to enumeration and redundancy, the whole experience capped off with a basso-relievo that thunders through the floorboards, into the basement, and through some of the deepest fissures of the planet.

It sounds OK.

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

Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (CD review)

Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Telarc CD-80565. 

Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) has been popular among audiophiles since the early days of stereo, and it was Mahler who first filled up the bins in the early days of compact discs. It's no wonder, then, that even his unfinished Tenth Symphony remains competitive today, with two releases of different reconstructions coming out at around the same time from Simon Rattle (EMI) and Jesus Lopez-Cobos in the early 2000's.

At his death Mahler left the Tenth Symphony in various stages of completion. A couple of the work's five movements were finished, and several others the composer left in detailed sketches only. For years, conductors only performed the two completed movements, and some purist conductors today apparently still insist on doing so, but the music as reconstructed by various people in various forms seems to be gaining a new audience. Maestro Jesus Lopez-Cobos uses one of the most-recent revisions, that of Remo Mazetti, Jr. (1997). Lopez-Cobos presents the piece in a fairly gusty and Romantic manner, mostly emphasizing the work's soaring lyricism, as in the first movement, and its bizarre eccentricities, as in the two Scherzos and the introduction to the Finale. Telarc's sound upholds its end, too, with its warm, natural presence.

Jesus Lopez-Cobos
All fine and good had I left well enough alone. But I couldn't resist listening the symphony again, this time comparing it side-by-side with Simon Rattle's account with the Berlin Philharmonic. Comparisons can be devastating. Perhaps it wasn't an entirely fair comparison, either, because Rattle uses the older Deryck Cooke edition and, as I said, Lopez-Cobos uses the newer Mazetti one; still, it was close enough. My conclusion? Next to Rattle, Lopez-Cobos seemed rather earthbound. His interpretation, so lovely on its own, appears straightforward and mundane by comparison to Rattle's. It's like plain vanilla vs. Swiss chocolate swirl. Rattle wrings every ounce of emotion from the score, making one pine and long for the participants, presumably Mahler and his lost love, Alma, whom Mahler had discovered having an affair in his last year.

The sound, too, favors Rattle. While Telarc's sonics are certainly worthwhile, they tend to sound muted, soft, and flat compared to EMI's live recording (which in itself is remarkable, considering that I don't usually care for live recordings). Rattle's orchestra does appear a bit harder and thinner than Lopez-Cobos's, to be sure, but the great Berlin strings more than make up for it. In the end, EMI's sound comes off as more transparent, more dynamic, and, ultimately, more realistic than Telarc's.  Both are good investments, but if one must make a choice, I would recommend one opts for the Rattle.

JJP

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


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