Classical Music News of the Week, March 18, 2017

The Attacca Quartet Spring Performances

Concluding their recently added series, the Attacca Quartet will perform the complete string quartets of John Adams at National Sawdust (April 2).

The Attacca will also tour Japan (April 22-25) with stops in Nagoya, Yokohama, and Osaka.

The Attacca Quartet continue their "Recently Added" series exploring the string quartet works of contemporary composers with performances of the complete string quartet music of Michael Ippolito February 19 (coinciding with the release of their new Azica recording of Ippolito) and John Adams on April 2.

The quartet was also featured in WQXR's Classical Beer Jam on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) along with MET Opera stars Stephen Costello & Pretty Yende.

"We're living in a golden age of string quartets...It's hard to disagree when you hear the vibrant young players in New York's Attacca Quartet." --NPR

For more informaiton and video, visit

--Ely Moskowitz, Unison Media

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Perform Rameau's "Le Temple de la Gloire"
Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale's (PBO) Music Director, will lead PBO's first-ever fully staged opera in a world-premiere production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's original 1745 version of "Le Temple de la Gloire" (The Temple of Glory), with a libretto by Voltaire, April 28–30 at Cal Performances in Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

This modern-day premiere was created in partnership with Cal Performances and Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. An international cast of soloists and the New York Baroque Dance Company join PBO for this lavish period production. In keeping with its Berkeley RADICAL programming initiative, Cal Performances will offer a day of free public engagement activities supporting the performances entitled "Rendezvous with Rameau," including a round-table discussion with the co-producers of "Le Temple de la Gloire" (The Temple of Glory), a Rameau listening party, and a Baroque dance and music workshop on Saturday, April 29, from 11am–5pm. A discussion of the extraordinary original 1745 manuscript score and libretto with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale music director Nicholas McGegan, UC Berkeley music library head John Shepard, and emeritus library head John Roberts takes place on the UC Berkeley campus on Tuesday, April 18 from 6-7:30pm. A pre-performance talk free to all ticketholders is offered on Friday, April 28.

Prices range from $30 to $120. Tickets and further info at (510) 642-9988 or

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Handel and Haydn Society Performs Monteverdi at Temple of Dendur
Boston's renowned Handel and Haydn Society (H+H), led by artistic director Harry Christophers, returns to New York for the first time in more than a quarter-century. The 202-year-old ensemble, widely hailed for its historically informed performance tradition, performs Monteverdi's complete Vespers of 1610 on Saturday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at the Met Fifth Avenue's Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, NYC.

Monteverdi's Vespers is a monumental work in 13 movements composed during the time of transition between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Scored for forces that include orchestra with solo violins and cornets, solo singers, and a choir large enough to be divided into parts ranging from four to ten, this 90-minute tour de force contains both sacred and secular texts, including sonatas, psalms, hymns, Gregorian chant, and a full Magnificat; H + H brings 17 players, 22 choristers, and two soloists to New York to perform the towering work.

Tickets ($65) to The Met performance also include Museum entry; call 212.570.3749 or visit The Met online at

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

ABS Presents Bach's Brilliant Motets for Double Chorus
The American Bach Soloists' 2017 season continues with Bach's Motets for Double Chorus, a program highlighting the superb artistry of the American Bach Choir. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas conducts performances in the San Francisco Bay Area and Davis from March 31 through April 3, 2017.

Bach's surviving motets are mesmerizing in their complexity and virtuosity, and they rival the splendor of his greatest cantatas and liturgical works. The motets for double chorus, with their increased number of parts, allow Bach to showcase his unparalleled genius in counterpoint and beguiling polyphonic textures. Many of these works were written for special, non-liturgical occasions. "Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt," which draws its text from Psalm 100, is noteworthy in that it was a collaboration between Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann. The Psalms are the source for "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied" as well, a virtuosic work which juxtaposes an endless array of dazzling melismas with passages of serene beauty. Several other works round out the program, including the brief yet powerful "Komm, Jesu, komm," and the joyous and celebratory "Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf and Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir."

Friday March 31 2017 8:00 pm
St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA

Saturday April 1 2017 8:00 pm
First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday April 2 2017 4:00 pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA

Monday April 3 2017 7:00 pm
Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For more information and tickets, visit

--American Bach Soloists

"Ellis Island" to be Broadcast on PBS "Great Performances"
Pacific Symphony's critically acclaimed American Composers Festival (ACF), led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, enters its 17th year with "Ellis Island"—a meaningful nod to the past, with lessons for the present, fortified by hope for the future. Each year, ACF uncovers a different facet of American music, and in 2017, the symphony pays tribute to our nation's historic immigrant experience and the American dream by taking inspiration from the Grammy-nominated work composed by Peter Boyer, "Ellis Island: The Dream of America." This ambitious blending of narration, projected images and orchestral writing highlighting individual immigrants who came to America's shores between 1910 and 1940 offers a searing, emotionally charged concert experience.

With 40 percent of the U.S. population able to trace their roots through Ellis Island, and with immigration at the forefront of recent news, the symphony tackles one of today's most relevant topics. Exploring the impact of an era that defined our nation, ACF honors the hopes and fears of those immigrants in search of a better life.

Pacific Symphony's performance of Boyer's "Ellis Island" will be recorded for national broadcast by PBS' acclaimed "Great Performances"--the first-ever national broadcast from the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. This national platform on public television will ensure that people around the nation will be able to enjoy this profound musical experience during the 2017-18 season of "Great Performances."

The concert, "Ellis Island" takes place Thursday through Saturday, April 6-8, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. A preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. Concert tickets are $25-$125 (Box Circle, $195). For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

--Janelle Kruly, Pacific Symphony

Maya Beiser Plays Two Shows at Big Ears
"Cello goddess" (The New Yorker) Maya Beiser will perform two shows at this year's Big Ears Festival. On Friday, March 24, at 10:30am she opens the day with "Morning Trance," a solo show at The Mill & Mine, and on Saturday, March 25 at 6:30pm she takes the stage at the Bijou Theatre for "Uncovered," classic rock reimagined with Glenn Kotche, drums and Gyan Riley, bass.

Maya's "Morning Trance" concert on Friday at 10:30am at The Mill & Mine features inspiring music written for or arranged by Maya, chosen to help festival attendees greet the day with her. Maya's set features Michael Gordon's mesmerizing "All Vows" and David Lang's heart-wrenching "World To Come," both written for her, plus Maya's own arrangements of J.S. Bach's Air on G, which evokes the sound of an old LP spinning on a distant turntable, and John Tavener's trance-like Lament to Phaedra, for which she'll be joined by ACME cellist Clarice Jensen.

Maya's "Uncovered" on Saturday at 6:30pm at the Bijou Theatre is a show of startling classic rock tunes, re-imagined and re-contextualized, in stunning performances by Maya alongside "mind-blowing" (Acoustic Guitar) bassist Gyan Riley and legendary WILCO drummer Glenn Kotche. A cover tune can be an homage to the original, but these "uncovers," in new arrangements by composer Evan Ziporyn, do more--they evoke the unprecedented power of the music of Led Zeppelin ("Black Dog," "Kashmir"), Jimi Hendrix ("Little Wing"), Pink Floyd ("Wish You Were Here"), Nirvana ("Lithium"), Janis Joplin ("Summertime"), Howlin' Wolf ("Moanin' at Midnight"), King Crimson ("Epitaph"), and AC/DC ("Back in Black").

For more information, visit

--Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists

Emerson String Quartet Celebrates 40th Anniversary
The Emerson String Quartet celebrates its 40th season this year and presents a new recording, "Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell," which will be the first release on Universal Music Classics' new U.S. classical record label, Decca Gold, on April 21. Their U.S. tour takes them from California to New York to Virginia this spring and summer, and on April 26 they will perform works from the new album and their extensive repertoire in celebration of the 40th anniversary at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR.

Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Quartet took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America's highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.

For more information, visit

--Julia Casey, Universal Music

Alarm Will Sound and Meet the Composer Release Their First "Podcast Album"
Alarm Will Sound's latest project delivers the freewheeling sense of adventure and experimentation that is the guiding principle of new music. Conceived and realized in partnership with "Meet the Composer," Q2 Music's Peabody award-winning podcast, Splitting Adams is Alarm Will Sound's fiery tribute to American composer John Adams (celebrating his 70th birthday this year), and in particular to his works Chamber Symphony (1992) and Son of Chamber Symphony (2007). It's also the group's first "podcast album," and features commentary from MTC's host Nadia Sirota, Alarm Will Sound's artistic director Alan Pierson, Columbia University music historian Walter Frisch - and of course, John Adams himself.

In this format, the performance-plus-podcast conveys a rare sense of interaction for the listener; the music, rendered in all its lush detail by the ever-adept musicians in AWS, captures and connects the long trajectory between the two works, while the commentary shines a revealing light on the story behind two of Adams' most challenging symphonies.

"Meet the Composer's" John Adams episode is available March 20.

For more information, visit

--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications

Kaija Saariaho's 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.

For additional information on this and other Great Performances programs, visit Great Performances online at

--Harry Forbes, WNET

Music Institute Appoints Choi to Piano Faculty
The Music Institute of Chicago announces the appointment of pianist Winston Choi to the faculty of its award-winning Academy program, an elite training center for gifted pre-college pianists and string players.? ?

Originally from Canada, Choi is the head of the piano program at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. Known for his colorful approach to programming and insightful commentary from the stage, Choi recently appeared in recital at the National Arts Centre in Canada, the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, New York's Carnegie-Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Recital Hall, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. An accomplished chamber musician, he tours regularly with his wife, violinist Minghuan Xu, as Duo Diorama, as well as with the Civitas Ensemble and Ensemble Dal Niente. Choi obtained his bachelor and master of music degrees from Indiana University and a doctor of music degree from Northwestern University.

Choi commented, "It is a privilege to be joining an institution that has such esteemed faculty and illustrious alumni. I have long admired the Academy's goals of training well-rounded young artists and look forward to being a part of such a vital and important musical center."

For more information, visit

--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications

Tenor Michael Schade Joins Schwalbe and Partners
Tenor Michael Schade has joined Schwalbe and Partners for exclusive representation in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as in South/Central America and Asia for non-exclusive representation.

Hailed as one of the world's leading tenors, German-Canadian tenor Michael Schade performs on every major opera stage and in the most prestigious concert halls of the world. His art form embraces a wide repertoire of performances in opera, recital, concert, and recording.

For more information, visit

--Schwalbe and Partners, Inc.

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Meet the Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

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

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

Mission Statement

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

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

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

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa