Classical Music News of the Week, August 5, 2017

Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 Comes to THIRTEEN's "Great Performances"

Led for the second time by German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 14th open-air concert, with a program inspired by fairy tales and myths, in Austria's Imperial Schönbrunn Palace Gardens. The Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 airs on THIRTEEN's "Great Performances," Friday, August 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS.

Fairy tales, myths, legends and sagas are closely entwined with many composers and compositions. They have served as inspiration, models and sources for many musical works, several of which have been selected for this concert. Some are new and some are old; some are German, Bohemian, and Russian; some are based on literary models and one is a composer's opinion about a myth.

The concert soloist is renowned soprano Renée Fleming who performs two arias from operas by Antonin Dvorák: the famous "Song to the Moon" of the water nymph Rusalka and the aria of the sorceress Armida from the operas of those names, as well as three songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff: "Twilight," "Sing not to me, beautiful maiden" and "Spring Waters."

The 2017 Summer Night Concert will be released on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital platforms by Sony Classical on August 11. For more information, visit

--Harry Forbes, WNET

FREE Events at the ABS Summer Bach Festival
Observe the American Bach Soloists Academy—the educational component of the ABS Summer Bach Festival—that offers advanced conservatory-level students and emerging professionals unique opportunities to study and perform Baroque music in a multi-disciplinary learning environment.

Academy participants are featured exclusively in three FREE programs of Academy-in-Action "Baroque Marathon" Concerts. Additionally a number of Academy-related events are offered to the public at no charge, including …

Public Colloquia
Annual engaging forums for performers and audience members alike explore a variety of topics centered on historical, artistic, and practical considerations of performing Baroque music today.

Master Class Series
The ABS Academy opens its doors to the public to witness the artistic transformations that make Master Classes so tremendously exciting, as performers and their master teachers share their knowledge and insights.

Lecture Series
Join the members of the American Bach Soloists Academy for a series of enlightening and informative public lectures presented by the Academy faculty on a wide range of subjects centered on Festival themes.

All Free ABS Festival Events are held in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street, between Van Ness and Franklin, near Market.

For a full schedule of events, visit

--American Bach Soloists

Merola Opera Grand Finale, 8/19 at the War Memorial Opera House, SF
The acclaimed Merola Opera Program, one of the most prestigious and selective opera training programs in the United States, concludes its 2017 Summer Festival and its 60th Anniversary Season with the Merola Grand Finale on Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 pm at the War Memorial Opera House.

Conductor Antony Walker will lead the orchestra and 2017 Merola Apprentice Stage Director Victoria Crutchfield will stage the program, featuring works by Donizetti, Wagner, Leoncavallo, Massenet, Verdi, Rossini, Lehár, R. Strauss, Boito, Thomas, Mozart, Britten, and Handel. The performance is a culmination of the 12-week Merola Opera training program, and all 23 of the 2017 Merola singers will perform, under the coaching and direction of their fellow artists.

Tickets for the performance range from $25 to $50, with a limited number of $15 student tickets available, and are on sale at San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330, or A special post-performance reception follows the Grand Finale (tickets sold separately).

--Jean Catino Shirk, Shirk Media

August in Saratoga: Philadelphia Orchestra, Chamber Music Society & SPAC on Stage
August at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center brings the return of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to their summer home and the launch of the innovative concert series "SPAC on Stage."

The Philadelphia Orchestra residency – running from August 2 – 19 – kicks off with a Tchaikovsky Spectacular complete with fireworks and performances by New York City Ballet dancers. Russian, American and French mini-festivals follow, celebrating the vital musical traditions of each culture. Yo-Yo Ma also returns to Saratoga for a community PlayIN and performance, and renowned pianist Marcus Roberts and his trio join the orchestra for an All-Gershiwn program featuring a jazzy reimagining of Rhapsody in Blue.

"A Night at the Opera" with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the family-oriented multi-media "Philadelphia for Families" offerings – including Cirque de la Symphonie and Movie Nights featuring E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark – also highlight the orchestra's residency at SPAC. Guest conductors Stéphane Denève, Marin Alsop, Bramwell Tovey, Stephen Reineke and David Newman will also take the podium during the Orchestra's season.

The full schedule of SPAC's programming and events is available at

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Five Boroughs Music Festival Annouces Programming for 2017-18 Season
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) announces programming for its 2017-2018 season, continuing its mission of bringing affordable, world-class performances of traditional and contemporary chamber music to all five boroughs of New York City.

Throughout the season, 5BMF presents the Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Bronx premieres of the second volume of its "Five Borough Songbook." The project, which premiered in Manhattan and Queens last year for 5BMF's 10th anniversary season, features 20 new commissions inspired by New York City places, people and poetry from twenty composers, and includes solo songs, duets and ensemble works scored for various combinations of voice, piano and cello.

The "Five Borough Songbook," Volume II receives its Staten Island premiere on Saturday, September 16 at 4:00 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, preceded by a 3:30 p.m chat with some of the project's commissioned composers and lyricists. The next day, on Sunday, September 17 at 5:00 p.m., the program premieres in the Bronx at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, preceded by a 4:30 p.m. composer chat. The final stop of the borough premiere tour takes place at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on Thursday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m., preceded by a composer chat at 7:00 p.m.

The "Five Borough Songbook," Volume II includes works by Matthew Aucoin, Lembit Beecher, Conrad Cummings, Jonathan Dawe, Evan Fein, Daniel Felsenfeld, Herschel Garfein, Whitney George, Marie Incontrera, Laura Kaminsky, Libby Larsen, Hannah Lash, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, Robert Paterson, Paola Prestini, Kevin Puts, Kamala Sankaram, Gregory Spears and Bora Yoon. Performers this season include sopranos Justine Aronson and Marnie Breckenridge; mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider; tenors William Ferguson and Michael Slattery; baritones Christopher Dylan Herbert and Sidney Outlaw; cellist Sophie Shao; and pianists Thomas Bagwell and Erika Switzer.

For tickets and learn more about all Five Boroughs Music Festival concerts, visit

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Lara St. John Announced as Curator of 2017-18 Season of Wolf Trap's "Chamber Music at the Barns"
Violinist Lara St. John announced her curated 2017-18 season of Wolf Trap's "Chamber Music at The Barns," exploring the intersection of classical and folk music. Each performer and ensemble has included a work based on a traditional theme.

The season opens October 20, with St. John and pianist Matt Herskowitz performing music from her recent album Shiksa, in which she commissioned contemporary composers to re-imagine traditional folk tunes, as well as the Franck sonata and a series of jazz arrangements.

November 5, the Attacca Quartet will perform music by Haydn, Beethoven and Michael Ippolito (from their new album Songlines). January 21, clarinetist David Krakauer and pianist Kathleen Tagg will offer a far-reaching program centering on 'lost' music of the Jewish people. March 2, pianist/composer Marc-André Hamelin will give a recital of works by Liszt, Feinberg, Debussy, and Godowsky. March 18, members of the Sphinx Organization will perform a mixed program including Dvorák's String Quintet in G major with Double Bass op. 77. April 8, cellist Cameron Crozman will give a recital of 20th century works by Debussy, Poulenc, Messiaen, Françaix, and Koechlin. The series will conclude on April 22 with a celebration of composer John Corigliano's 80th birthday, with St. John, pianist Martin Kennedy, soprano Melinda Whittington and the PubliQuartet performing selections of his chamber music.

For complete information, visit

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Center for Contemporary Opera Opens 35th Season
The Center for Contemporary Opera opens its 35th season presenting the New York premieres and world premiere roduction of Gordon Getty's "Scare Pair": Usher House and The Canterville Ghost, with Brian Staufenbiel, stage director, and Sara Jobin, conductor. Thursday, October 19 and Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 7:30pm at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse, NYC.

Tickets are priced at $35, $25. Senior/Student Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in person with valid ID. For ticket information by phone at 212 772 4448 or at

--Shear Arts Services

San Francisco Girls Chorus Announces 2017-2018 Season
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) today announced its 2017-2018 season. Led by Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and Music Director and Principal Conductor, Valérie Saint-Agathe, SFGC will present three subscription concerts in San Francisco.

In celebration of Philip Glass's 80th birthday, SFGC will present a program dedicated to the composer in collaboration with members of the Philip Glass Ensemble with whom the Chorus makes its Carnegie Hall debut in February. Further subscription highlights include the Chorus' popular annual holiday concert at Davies Symphony Hall featuring guest soprano and SFGC alumna Michele Kennedy and the world premiere of the chamber version of Colin Jacobsen's "If I Were Not Me," part of an April program showcasing works from the Chorus's latest album, to be recorded in August with the Kronos Quartet and released early next year. Furthering its commitment to the music of living composers, the Chorus School welcomes Bay Area composer Pamela Z for a year-long residency working closely on the process of creating and performing new music as part of its choral training program.

Three-concert subscriptions to San Francisco Girls Chorus self-produced concert season go on sale August 14. Call (415) 392-4400 or visit

--Brenden Guy

Festival Mozaic WinterMezzo Tickets on Sale Now
Festival Mozaic continues to bring exceptional classical music performances to the San Luis Obispo area year-round with the WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series. Enjoy chamber music performed by world-class Festival Mozaic musicians in the fall and winter. The two chamber series full-weekend experiences allow you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of classical music.

Join us for the 2017-2018 WinterMezzo Series, two weekends of music that will suprise, delight, and inform you.

WinterMezzo I - October 20 - 22, 2017:
"Mozart, Chopin & Prokofiev"
The weekend explores three centuries of chamber music's artistic progress. Mozart's sonatas were performed in royal court chambers throughout Europe. Chopin's challenging Ballades beguiled attendees in 19th century Parisian salons. And Prokofiev's passionate Violin Sonata No. 1, written during World War II, was so beloved by the composer that it was performed at his funeral.

WinterMezzo II - February 23 - 25, 2018:
"Musique Française"
French composers in the 20th century reinvented melody through impressionism and neo-classicism. The melodic works of Gabriel Fauré, Jean Cras and Albert Roussel were written when jazz sounds from the United States had crossed the pond. Rounding out this imaginative and evocative program is a jazz riff on the baroque style by living composer Noam Elkies.

For complete information, visit

--Bettina Swigger, Executive Director

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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