Classical Music News of the Week, February 11, 2017

DCINY Presents Christina Kobb in Her Carnegie Hall Debut on Feb. 24

On February 24 at 8PM, DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International New York) presents 19th-century piano technique expert Christina Kobb in a performance of her program titled "Keys to Romance." The Norwegian pianist and scholar makes her Carnegie Hall debut performing an evening of selected Romantic piano pieces including works by Schubert, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Grieg, and Liszt.

Christina Kobb, Head of Theory at Barratt Due Institute of Music (BDM) in Oslo, was featured last summer in The New York Times regarding her soon-to-be finished doctoral work on early piano technique at the Norwegian Academy of Music. For fifteen years, Kobb has been specializing in historical pianos and has developed a theory on how to reconstruct 19th-century piano technique, teaching herself from old manuals. Her research has shown a considerable change in piano technique over the past decade, and she is now showcasing the long lost piano technique as a performer and lecturer.

Kobb is the recipient of the Nils Larsen bequest 2016 (Nils Larsen's legat) and has also been sponsored by All Classical Portland for this upcoming performance. Ms. Kobb holds degrees (Cand. Mag. in piano teaching, BA fortepiano performance) and MA from the Norwegian Academy of Music (NAM), Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (BA, MA (cum laude) of fortepiano performance, with teachers Bart van Oort and Stanley Hoogland, and was honoured to receive a one-year studentship to the renowned Cornell University to study with prof. Malcolm Bilson (2009/10). Christina has appeared at various occasions in Norway, England, The Netherlands and the U.S. with solo recitals and chamber music concerts. She is the proud recipient of Pianist Nils Larsen's bequest of 2016. Earlier in her career, she won the accompanist prize of 'The John Kerr Award for English song' (2006) at Finchcocks Musical Museum in Kent, England, and she received the 'Muzio Clementi Award' (2008). In 2007, she was awarded the coveted TICON scholarship.

Friday, February 24, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, NYC

For more information, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

PBO Welcomes Conductor Jonathan Cohen for Operatic Heroes Program
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale welcomes guest conductor Jonathan Cohen who will lead PBO in a program featuring arias and works from Baroque operas and oratorios. The program, called "Operatic Heroes," features acclaimed British countertenor Iestyn Davies who will perform excerpts from Handel's "Theodora," Hasse's "Didone Abbandonata," Thomas Arne's "Alfred," and Gluck's "Telemaco," and "Orfeo ed Euridice."

Davies is one of the world's finest countertenors and is known for his technical dexterity, intelligent musicianship and beautiful tone. He's won two Gramophone Awards, a GRAMMY Award, a Critic's Choice Award and was recently nominated for an Oliver Award honoring the best of British theatre.

Jonathan Cohen has forged a remarkable career as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. Cohen is known for his passion for chamber music and is as equally at ease with Baroque opera as he is with classical symphonic repertoire. He has recently been named the Music Director of Montreal's highly esteemed Les Violons du Roy, effective in the 2018-19 season. Cohen founded his ensemble Arcangelo in 2010 and has produced four award-winning recordings including a 2012 Gramophone Award winning disc with Iestyn Davies called "Arias for Guadagni." Six pieces from that recording will be performed at this PBO concert.

Jonathan Cohen and Iestyn Davies have a unique chemistry when they work together, with each bringing out the best in the other. Many of the pieces in the program were originally written for castrati. Davies approaches these works with incredible skill. And when combined with the the nuanced direction of Jonathan Cohen and the historically-informed musicianship of the Orchestra, the audience can expect beautifully rendered performances of these lovely vocal works.

Tickets range from $27 to $108. For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For San Francisco, Berkeley and Lafayette tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400. For tickets to the Stanford performance, visit or call  650.724.BING (2464).

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Orion "Connections" in March Features Kritz, Clarke, Mahler
On a program of "Connections," The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, presents its third concert program of the season, which takes its name from a Robert Kritz work composed for Orion. Performances, which welcome back guest violist Stephen Boe, take place at First Baptist Church of Geneva March 12; the PianoForte Studios in downtown Chicago March 15; and the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, Illinois, March 19.

The Orion Ensemble's concert program "Connections" takes place Sunday, March 12 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Geneva, 2300 South Street in Geneva; Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago; and Sunday, March 19 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. A four-ticket flexible subscription provides a 10 percent savings on full-priced tickets. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

New Symphonic and Operatic Projects for Tod Machover
Symphony in D, the fifth installment of Tod Machover's groundbreaking City Symphonies series and the first in the United States, is the subject of a new documentary bearing the same title; it is directed and produced by Marlon Johnson and Dennis Scholl. The world premiere of the 53-minute documentary takes place on March 5 at the Miami International Film Festival, followed by showings at the Cinequest festival in San Jose, and at later film festivals around the United States.

Following its festival appearances, the film will be aired on Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and other public broadcasting channels throughout North America. Made possible through substantial support by the Knight Foundation, Symphony in D, which utilizes the myriad sound samples and compositions submitted via special mobile technologies created and developed by Machover and his Opera of the Future Group at the MIT Media Lab, premiered at Orchestra Hall in Detroit in November 2015. The yearlong musical collaboration between Machover, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, their music director Leonard Slatkin, and residents of the city of Detroit culminated in two performances have received high critical acclaim.

To watch the documentary trailer, click here:

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

PBO's Sixth Annual LGBT Reception
Sixth Annual LGBT Reception
Friday, March 3, 2017
Thomas E. Horn Bar & Lounge, Veterans Building post-concert

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale invites you to our 6th annual post-concert LGBT reception in San Francisco. Enjoy a glass of wine and dessert while mingling with guest conductor Jonathan Cohen, countertenor Iestyn Davies, and members of the Orchestra and Chorale.

The reception will take place in the Thomas E. Horn Bar & Lounge beneath Herbst Theatre following the concert. Everyone is welcome! Please rsvp to Andrea Saenz at to let us know that you are coming.

Then, on Friday, March 10, PBO will host its annual gala. The evening will take place at San Francisco's St. Regis Hotel with a world-premiere commission by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw written for and performed by Dominique Labelle that evening. The celebratory Gala will celebrate PBO's latest initiative, "New Music for Old Instruments," while recognizing Ms. Labelle's extraordinary artistic contributions to the world of historically-informed vocal performance in the Bay Area and beyond.

For more information or tickets for Philharmonia Barqoue Orchestra & Chorale's Annual Winter Gala, please visit:

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Music Institute Appoints Contreras to Cello Faculty
The Music Institute of Chicago announces the appointment of cellist Horacio Contreras to its esteemed faculty, effective immediately at its Community Music School and Academy program for gifted pre-college students.

A product of the Venezuelan El Sistema, Contreras has built an impressive career as a teacher during the past 20-plus years. He has presented cello classes at the University of Michigan, The Juilliard School, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and Il Sistema's Latin-American Cello Academy. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with orchestras including the Municipal Orchestra of Caracas, the EAFIT University Orchestra in Medellín, the Virtuosi of Caracas, the Camerata de France, and the Simón Bolivar Symphony. He holds a doctorate degree from the University of Michigan.

Music Institute President and CEO Mark George said, "Horacio is a master teacher with the skills to teach a wide range of students, from intermediate to advanced. I have seen students progress very quickly under his tutelage. He truly has emerged as one of the best teachers of his generation." Dean of Academic Affairs Emily Abraham added, "We expect Horacio to be an anchor of our string department for many years to come."

"It is an honor to join the faculty of such a wonderful institution," said Contreras. "Teaching is my passion, and I do it to give back all of the wonderful things I have received from life and music."

In the coming months, Contreras is offering a series of free master classes and workshops at schools and other venues in the Chicago area. Anyone interested in hosting a master class should contact the Music Institute at 847-448-8311.

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Musica Viva NY Presents "Voices in Motion"
Musica Viva NY, led by Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, presents "Voices in Motion"--a program celebrating vibrant and inspirational choral works, including Tomás Luis de Victoria's timeless late-renaissance motet "O Vos Omnes" from Tenebrae Responsories, and Dvorák's "Goin' Home," arranged by William Arms Fisher, part of the New York Philharmonic's 175th anniversary New World Initiative--on Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church.

Additional choral works by Arvo Pärt, Morten Lauridsen, Henrik Górecki, Eriks Ešenvalds, John Tavener, and Imant Raminsh are paired with solo organ works by composers including Dan Locklair and Jehan Alain that showcase the many sonic colors of the Holtkamp pipe organ. All Souls' historic sanctuary is used in dynamic ways as the choir moves throughout the space during the program in varying configurations.

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.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva NY's 2016-17 season include "An Elegy for all Humanity: Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem" and Seymour Bernstein's "Song of Nature" (Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m.) at All Souls Church, and "Forever Young: Great American Songs" on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at NY 229, a townhouse in midtown Manhattan.

Tickets for "Voices in Motion," priced at $30, are available by visiting or at the door on the evening of the concert.

--Katln Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Librettist Mark Campbell Premieres Five New Operas in 2017
Librettist Mark Campbell premieres five new operas in 2017: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Dinner at Eight, Elizabeth Cree, Some Light Emerges, and The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable
Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare.

New works in collaboration with composers Mason Bates, William Bolcom, Kevin Puts, Laura Kaminsky, and Julian Grant presented by Santa Fe Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Houston Grand Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera.

Librettist Mark Campbell, who is much admired for his libretto of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, will be premiering an unprecedented number of new operas in 2017. Mark will launch five new works this year with five major U.S. opera houses—nearly one every two months. This unique accomplishment arrives on the heels of last year's tremendous success with his and composer Paul Moravec's opera, The Shining, which broke all box office records at Minnesota Opera. These new operas each demonstrate Campbell's versatility and range as an artist and prove why his work remains at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country.

For more information about Mark Campbell, visit

--Liza Prijatel Thors, Rebecca Davis PR

Lang Lang News
Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced a new long-term recording agreement with the world's most impactful pianist Lang Lang. The agreement, effective immediately, marks Lang Lang's return to UMG's artist roster, with future classical albums to be released through Deutsche Grammophon, where he was signed until 2010.

A globally celebrated piano virtuoso, Lang Lang has sold millions of albums around the world, topping classical charts and achieving simultaneous mainstream success. He was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy Award, becoming the first Chinese artist nominated for Best Instrumental Soloist. During the past decade Lang Lang has performed for classical music fans, world leaders, monarchs and dignitaries including President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II. He has reached televised audiences of billions, performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

Find out more at

--Olga Makrias, Universal Music Group

ABS Education & Outreach 2017 Lectures
Prior to each of American Bach Soloists' subscription concerts, they offer a free and informative pre-concert lecture. This year, ABS welcomes the engaging musicologist, Victor Gavenda, as the 2016-2017 Season guest lecturer.

The next ABS concerts include
"A Weekend in Paris"
February 10-13, 2017

Bach's Motets
March 31-April 3, 2017

La Resurrezione
May 5-8, 2017

For more information and tickets, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Anne-Sophie Mutter Tours US with Lambert Orkis
Globally-renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her longtime musical partner pianist Lambert Orkis give 11 performances across the United States in Spring 2017. The duo have spent nearly 30 years making music together, resulting in numerous successful Deutsche Grammophon recordings, earning Grammy Awards, an ECHO Award, as well as a Choc de l'Année Award.

The recital program will be played in seven cities including San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall and Washington DC's Kennedy Center, with a program including works by Sebastian Currier – who previously wrote a number of other works for Mrs. Mutter such as Aftersong (1994) and Ringtone Variations (2013) - Mozart, Respighi, and Saint-Saëns. Mrs. Mutter concludes the tour with a four-date engagement with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons, where the concert program features selections by Tchaikovsky and Nostalghia by Toru Takemitsu, which Mrs. Mutter played at her 35th Anniversary concert of her Japanese debut.

For complete information, visit

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa