Classical Music News of the Week, August 26, 2017

Orion Hosts 25th Anniversary Benefit Oct. 7

The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, celebrates its 25th anniversary with a benefit performance and party Saturday, October 7 at 12 noon at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, Illinois. Proceeds will help support Orion's performances and outreach efforts to young musicians.

The event features a special concert by Orion in the intimate setting of the historic Dunham Woods Riding Club, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. After the performance, guests enjoy lunch and mingle and chat with the musicians. This event offers Orion fans an extra chance to enjoy the Ensemble's music while supporting its work.

Orion's 25th anniversary season features four concert programs, all welcoming guest violist Stephen Boe: "A Beautiful Oboe and Friends," also featuring guests Alex Klein, oboe, and Robert Kassinger, bass, on a program of Mozart, Prokofiev and Schubert, in September and October; "Let's Tango," featuring works by Bernstein, von Dohnanyi, Horn and Schumann, in November; "Old Meets New," highlighted by a world premiere in honor of the 25th anniversary by Sebastian Huydts, along with works by Bruch, Klein and Fauré, in March; and "Quintessential Quintets," with additional guest artist violinist Mathias Tacke performing on a program including Weber, Gershwin and Dvorák, in May. Each concert program takes place at three locations: Geneva, Evanston and downtown Chicago, Il.

The Orion Ensemble's benefit takes place Saturday, October 7 at 12 noon at Dunham Woods Riding Club, 33w333 Army Trail, Wayne, Illinois. The requested donation is $75. For tickets or more information, call 630-628-9591 or visit

--Jill Chukerman, The Orion Ensemble

PBO Opens Season with U.S. Premiere of Co-Commission with OAE
Two of the world's leading period instrument orchestras have joined forces to commission a provocative new passion by Scottish composer Sally Beamish and librettist David Harsent. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and London's Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE)---the UK's premier period instrument orchestra---co-commissioned "The Judas Passion" to be written specifically for period instruments. OAE will perform the world premiere in the U.K. September 24 and 25 with PBO music director Nicholas McGegan at the podium. McGegan then returns to the Bay Area to open PBO's 2017/18 season with the U.S. premiere of "The Judas Passion" October 4-8 in Palo Alto, San Francisco and Berkeley.

A few years ago, at a kitchen table in Scotland, Nicholas McGegan and composer and friend Sally Beamish (his neighbor) talked about creating a new work for period instruments. Beamish was fascinated by the story of Judas Iscariot and sought to create a work that would present Judas in a new light. PBO music director and conductor Nicholas McGegan has long been interested in commissioning new music written expressly for period instruments. McGegan then invited OAE to participate and the historic co-commission was born.

"One of the extraordinary things about pieces commissioned by PBO is that they come from composers we know personally---Caroline Shaw, Jake Heggie, Sally Beamish. It's very advantageous this way, because we're then able to work closely and personally with the composer to produce the result. Most of this process is seeing what particular advantages period instruments have over modern instruments, and getting their creative juices flowing," says McGegan.

Librettist David Harsent was engaged to help present a new angle on the traditional Judas narrative. His provocative libretto will explore new ideas of redemption and forgiveness for this often maligned Biblical figure.

Tickets range from $28 to $120. For more information about this and other Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale concerts, visit For tickets, visit or call 415-392-4400.

Classical KDFC is the radio home of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. KDFC broadcasts an unreleased live Philharmonia concert recording the second Sunday of every month from 8-9 PM.

For more information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Cellist Mischa Maisky Performs with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at 92Y Opening Night
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra celebrates the 70th birthday year of internationally celebrated cellist and frequent collaborator Mischa Maisky in 92nd Street Y's season opening concert at Kaufmann Concert Hall on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. Orpheus and Maisky have enjoyed a long history of successful musical collaboration, including recordings of the Saint-Saëns, Vivaldi, and Boccherini Cello Concertos, and many acclaimed concerts. Maisky joins Orpheus for Dobrinka Tabakova's arrangement of Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata in A minor, the US premiere of the cello and orchestra version. The program also includes Arensky's Variations On A Theme By Tchaikovsky, Op. 35a and Tchaikovsky's Serenade For Strings, Op. 48 and will be Orpheus' first performance at 92nd Street Y since 2002. This program will also be performed at Purchase College on Sunday, October 8 at 3:00 p.m. with cellist Cicely Parnas.

Program Information:
Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
Kaufmann Concert Hall at 92nd Street Y
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Mischa Maisky, cello

Arensky: Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, Op. 35a
Schubert: "Arpeggione" Sonata in A minor (arr. D. Tabakova)
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings, Op. 48

Ticket Information
Tickets start at $55 for general admission and are $35 for patrons aged 35 and under. Tickets can be purchased from the, by calling the 92nd Street Y at 212.415.5500, or in person at 1395 Lexington Avenue (between 91st & 92nd street) in New York City.

For more information, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

5BMF Presents Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island Premieres of Five Borough Songbook, Volume II
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) presents the Staten Island, Bronx, and Brooklyn premieres of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II, completing the Songbook's journey across all five boroughs of New York City, which began during 5BMF's tenth anniversary season.

The Songbook premieres in Staten Island on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church and premieres in the Bronx the following evening, Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture. The concerts feature soprano Marnie Breckenridge, mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, tenor Michael Slattery, baritone Sidney Outlaw, pianist Thomas Bagwell, and cellist Sophie Shao.

On Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. the Songbook completes its journey across New York City with the Brooklyn premiere at National Sawdust in a special finale performance featuring an expanded cast of artists including sopranos Justine Aronson and Marnie Breckenridge, mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, tenor William Ferguson, baritones Christopher Dylan Herbert and Sidney Outlaw, pianists Thomas Bagwell and Erika Switzer, and cellist Sophie Shao.

Please visit or email for more information.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

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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