Classical Music News of the Week, November 18, 2017

American Classical Orchestra Performs CPE Bach and Handel's Messiah with ACO Chorus

On Monday, December 4, 2017 at 8:00 p.m., the American Classical Orchestra, "the nation's premier orchestra dedicated to period instrument performance (Vulture)," presents a holiday program featuring the acclaimed ACO Chorus in the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah, performed in the sacred setting of St. Ignatius of Antioch Church, NYC. Soloists will include sopranos Katherine Wessinger and Nola Richardson; altos Kate Maroney and Clifton Massey; tenors Andrew Fuchs, Nils Neubert, and Gene Stenger; and basses Timothy McDevitt and Edmund Milly. For the first time ever, ACO also performs Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach's Magnificat.

This season, the American Classical Orchestra is launching an innovative Concert Preview program that will bring listeners closer to the music. Before conducting the program, Maestro Crawford will deliver an introduction, with the full orchestra and chorus onstage to perform excerpts from the evening's program. Crawford's engaging narratives, along with the live music, will give the audience greater insights into what they're about to hear, resulting in a more enriched musical experience.

Additional concerts in the ACO's 2017-18 season include five Baroque concertos with violinist Stephanie Chase at Alice Tully Hall on February 8; and a program of works by Brahms, Schubert, and Ries with contralto Avery Amereau and the ACO Men's Chorus on March 24.

CPE Bach: Magnificat
Handel: Messiah Christmas Portion, with ACO Chorus and Soloists
Monday, December 4, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
St. Ignatius of Antioch Church: 87th St. and West End Ave., New York City

Ticket Information:
Tickets for the December 4 concert can be purchased at http://aconyc.org/concert-event/cpe-bach-handel/ or by calling ACO at 212.362.2727. Please visit www.aconyc.org for more information.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Salisbury Symphony's Messiah
The Salisbury Symphony and the Salisbury Symphony Chorale present their first holiday concert of Christmas excerpts from Handel's ever-popular Messiah. The concert will take place on Tuesday December 19 at 6.30pm at First Presbyterian Church, 308 W Fisher Street, Salisbury, NC.

This concert is part of the inaugural season for the newly-formed 40 member-strong Salisbury Symphony Chorale, which has already earned a reputation as a leading choral society in the region following their highly acclaimed concert with St. John's Lutheran Church as part of the celebration of the Reformation's 500th anniversary.   

Soloists for the Messiah are University of North Carolina School of the Arts-trained soprano Anyée Farrar, alto Alden Pridgen, tenor Logan Weber, and bass Eric Powell. Music Director David Hagy will conduct this concert, which also features an 18-piece orchestra.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for ages 18 and below. Children under 10 years old get free admission. Seating is general admission. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 704 216 1513 or online at www.salisburysymphony.org.

For complete information, visit www.salisburysymphony.org

--James Harvey, Salisbury Symphony

Magdalena Kozena Signs to Pentatone
Pentatone announce that Magdalena Kožená, one of the most celebrated vocalists of our time, has formed a long-term partnership with the label. This new partnership will showcase the breadth of her repertoire over several albums, from Baroque opera to contemporary art song, from Rameau to Berio.

The Czech mezzo-soprano spent time in the recording studio this past summer and documented a selection of heart-wrenchingly beautiful songs from her homeland by Dvorák and Janácek, coupled with some of the repertoire's most famous melodies, including Strauss's eternal "Morgen!," Chausson's poetic "Chanson perpétuelle" and Brahms's "Two Songs," Op. 91 – some of them in new arrangements. Joining her were her husband, Sir Simon Rattle, in his first-ever appearance as a pianist on record, and six of their closest colleagues: Wolfram Brandl and Rahel Rilling on violin, Yulia Deyneka on viola, Dávid Adorján on cello, Andrew Marriner on clarinet and Kaspar Zehnder on flute.

"So, all friends together. You could imagine them playing hausmusik in someone's living room, in proper German fashion, and this concert felt as if they'd been performing these pieces for ages and were now graciously allowing us to eavesdrop. Rattle was all smiles, with none of the nervousness you'd expect from someone venturing into the unfamiliar role of pianist."  --The Telegraph

--Silvia Pietrosanti, Pentatone Music

Gulbenkian Orchestra Appoints Giancarlo Guerrero as Principal Guest Conductor
Giancarlo Guerrero, who has led the Nashville Symphony as its Music Director for nearly a decade, has in the last six months picked up two additional posts in Europe. Today, the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon announced that it has appointed Guerrero Principal Guest Conductor. He will conduct up to four weeks with that orchestra, beginning in August 2018. Just six months ago, in June 2017, it was announced that Guerrero will be the new Music Director of the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic in Poland, where he will conduct four weeks in 2017/18 - increasing to eight weeks in the 2018/19 season - and take part in touring and recording projects.

Guerrero was appointed Music Director of the Nashville Symphony in 2009 and has committed to serve in this role through the 2024/25 season. During his tenure, Guerrero and the orchestra have made more than a dozen award-winning recordings for Naxos, and have won eight of the ensemble's eleven Grammy Awards.

For more information, visit www.giancarlo-guerrero.com.

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Young People's Chorus of NYC and Ailyn Pérez Celebrate the Holidays
The Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) celebrates the holidays at Carnegie Hall with its Winter Wonder program featuring soprano and Metropolitan Opera star Ailyn Pérez as guest artist on Thursday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. Under the direction of YPC Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez and Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, the program highlights the different ways New York City families commemorate the festivities, with repertoire including holiday classics and international songs sung by over 400 YPC choristers ages 8 to 18.

Tickets priced $25-100 are available via the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street; by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800; or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.

--Shuman Associates

PostClassical Emsemble, National Cathedral Embark on New Concert Series
Washington, DC's intrepid PostClassical Ensemble (PCE) and Music Director Angel Gil-Ordoñez perform "Music in Wartime: A Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration" at the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7:30pm. Produced by PCE's Executive Director Joseph Horowitz, the performance is comprised of musical responses to war from Hanns Eisler, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Arnold Schoenberg. The concert marks the start of PCE's inaugural season as the Cathedral's ensemble in residence and underscores PCE's drive to use this season to contextualize music throughout history.

The concert begins with Eisler's The Hollywood Songbook, a collaboration with playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, a wartime workers' song performed as a processional. The set of 46 short songs details the affliction of war and the helplessness these German emigres felt as they watched from California as their homeland slipped into dissolution and destruction. 

Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 is a cry of pain provoked by the barbaric Nazi Siege of Leningrad, in which half a million perished. 

Concluding the performance, Schoenberg's seething and exalted Ode to Napoleon, composed in Los Angeles in response to Pearl Harbor, uses Lord Byron's "Ode to Napoleon" to excoriate Hitler and exalt Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Byron's poem rages against the autocrat Napoleon in favor of the democrat George Washington; Schoenberg uses this inspiration to draw comparisons between Hitler and FDR.

Tickets and information are available at http://postclassical.com/

--Mike Fila, BuckleSweet Media

SF Symphony's Fire Relief Benefit, Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen
SF Symphony's fire relief benefit: Sunday, November 19, Davies Symphony Hall, Civic Center, San Francisco, CA.

In the wake of the devastating wildfires that brought extensive damage throughout the North Bay last month, many artistic organizations have looked for ways to contribute to the relief efforts. The healing power of music--not to mention the opportunity to garner financial support for those affected--makes a benefit concert the natural path.

For more information, visit http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/Michael-Tilson-Thomas-SF-Symphony-host-benefit-12354865.php

--SF Gate

Emerson String Quartet Returns to Alice Tully Hall
The renowned Emerson String Quartet has returned from a European tour to perform at the Alice Tully Hall, NYC on November 28, 2017 at 7:30 PM.

The program features Beethoven's B-flat-major quartet, which shattered tradition with six movements, including the profoundly beautiful "Cavatina"; the original ending, the Grosse Fuge, was deemed too momentous for an already overpowering work and now stands alone in the repertoire. The "indispensable" Emerson String Quartet (Newsday) will perform both pieces along with Shostakovich's Thirteenth Quartet, a surreal piece in which simplicity becomes sonically extraordinary.

November 28, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Alice Tully Hall, NYC

For more information and tickets, visit http://www.lincolncenter.org/great-performers/show/emerson-string-quartet-5

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

The Chelsea Symphony Performs Ravel, Smetena, Reinecke, Mozart, and Dai
The Chelsea Symphony, featured in the hit Amazon show "Mozart in the Jungle," announces the continuation of its 2017/18 season, entitled "Sea Change," with a holiday concert on December 1 featuring special guest, comedian Judy Gold, narrating "The Night Before Christmas" by composer Aaron Dai.

The concert also includes Bedrich Smetana's The Moldau, Carl Reinecke's Flute Concerto, featuring flutist Dirk Wels, Maurice Ravel's Tzigane, featuring violinist Megan Hilands, Leopold Mozart's Sinfonia pastorale, "Alphorn" and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Concert Rondo featuring trumpetist Warren Wernick, and seminal holiday classic, Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" with guest conductor Pam Aubin.

A silent auction in support of the orchestra will take place before the downbeat and during intermission, concluding during a festive complimentary wine reception following the concert. Start your holiday season with The Chelsea Symphony!

December 1, 2017 Concert at 8:00 PM
Conducted by Reuben Blundell, Nell Flanders, and special guest Pam Aubin
St. Paul's Church (315 West 22nd Street), NYC

For more information, visit www.chelseasymphony.org

--Elizabeth Holub, Chelsea Symphony

Hartmann: Overtures (CD review)

Thomas Dausgaard, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Dacapo 8.224097.
And, Hartmann-Bournonville: The Valkyrie. Michail Jorowski, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt. CPO 999 620-2 (2-disc set).

Danish composer Johan Peder Emilius Hartmann (1805-1900) lived nearly the whole of the nineteenth century. Think of that: Haydn was still alive when Hartmann was born, and Mahler was just finishing his Fourth Symphony when Hartmann died. Although not so popular anymore, during most of this time Hartmann was at the center of Danish musical life as an organist, composer, and co-director the Copenhagen Conservatory. His works include operas; ballets; vocal, orchestral, organ, and piano pieces; popular songs; and chamber music. 

The five overtures featured on this 1999 release from Maestro Thomas Dausgaard and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra reveal a distinctly Romantic leaning, as we might expect, yet a modern, adventurous spirit as well. There is nothing particularly remarkable about any of the overtures, but they are clearly a step toward tone painting and even impressionism, and the conductor and orchestra give them full measure.

The five overtures are Yrsa, Axel og Valborg, Hakon Jarl, Correggio, and Guldhornene. He based most of them on Danish folk lore, poetry, and legend. Of the five, two stand out for me: First, there is Guldhormene, or The Golden Horns, because it is background music for the recitation of a poem by Adam Oehlenschlager, one of Denmark's "Golden Age" dramatists. It is not the longest work on the disc, but it covers the most sweeping ground. To be honest, though, I could have done without the recitation by Bodil Udsen and just enjoyed the music by itself. The second standout is Hakon Jarl, a descriptive work that tackles no less than "the struggle of Heathendom in Norway against Christianity, and the victory of the latter under Olaf Trygvason." Like the other overtures, it begins with a slow, moody introduction soon developing into a series of contrasting sections that become quite exciting and contain some of Hartmann's most imaginative tunes.

Thomas Dausgaard
For those listeners seeking a more sustained and substantial output from Hartmann, the CPO label simultaneously issued a two-disc set of his ballet The Valkyrie, with Michail Jorowski and the Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt. In four acts and based on a story by August Bournonville, the work is somewhat bombastic but highly descriptive. As the title suggests, it is all about gods and warriors and Valkyrie of ancient Norse mythology. Music scholars consider it one of the great ballets of Danish theater. Although it did not particularly impress me on my one and only listening, ballet fans should find much to enjoy in its 103 minutes. Whether Maestro Jorowski helped or hindered my appreciation of the music, I could not say. 

Both Dacapo's and CPO's sound is remarkable in its unremarkableness. This is not meant as a criticism, just an observation. The sonics appear moderately distanced and slightly veiled, with passably good depth of field, little deep bass, and rather mundane dynamic impact. Like Hartmann's music, nothing really stands out, but that is the way it probably should be. Unless the listener is an audiophile more interested in how the discs sound than in the music itself, the albums should satisfy because nothing calls attention to itself. These are unassuming releases of unassuming music.

JJP     

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


Handel Goes Wild (CD review)

Valer Sabadus, countertenor; Nuria Rial, soprano; Christina Pluhar, L'Arpeggiata. Erato 0190295811693.

This is another novelty from conductor (and therobist) Christina Pluhar and her Baroque ensemble L'Arpeggiata: A recording that blends a period band with a contemporary jazz quintet to do improvisations inspired by the works of German composer George Frederic Handel (1685-1759). Ms. Pluhar and her group have done this kind of thing several times before, notably with albums of music by Purcell, Monteverdi, and Cavalli. The results may remind you, as they did me, of the discs from the Jacques Loussier Trio, a jazz group that has successfully navigated the classical world for decades. But Ms. Pluhar and her players go them one better in combining historical instruments with modern jazz ones and coming up with lusher, richer tones that still maintain much of the spirit of the original composer.

The program, mainly arias, highlights soloists in some selections, the jazz players on some tracks, and the period instruments ensemble in yet other numbers. What's more, some of the pieces are well known while others are less famous; some are slow, while others are fast; some are recognizable as Handel, while others are not quite so identifiable; and some are done relatively straight, while others are more jazz inflected. Thus, we get a good variety of music, from the energetic pomp of "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" (with interjections by the jazz ensemble) to the familiar larghetto "Ombra mai fu." Whether any of this will appeal to the committed classical lover or the enthusiastic jazz fan, however, is another story and entirely a matter of taste.

To give you an idea of the material involved, here's a list of the disc's contents:

  1. Sinfonia (from Alcina)
  2. "Venti, turbini" (from Rinaldo)
  3. "O sleep, why dost thou leave me" (from Semele)
  4. Vivaldi Allegro (from Concerto in G minor)
  5. "Cara sposa" (from Rinaldo)
  6. "Where'er you walk" (from Semele)
  7. "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" (from Solomon)
  8. "Pena tiranna" (from Amadigi di Gaula)
  9. "Piangerò la sorte mia" (from Giulio Cesare in Egitto)
10. Canario (improvisations based on Girolamo Kapsberger)
11. "Verdi prati" (from Alcina)
12. "Tu del Ciel ministro eletto" (from Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno)
13. "Mi lusinga il dolce affetto" (from Alcina)
14. "Lascia ch'io pianga" (from Rinaldo)
15 "Ombra mai fu" (from Serse)

Christina Pluhar
So, OK, admittedly, it's a little hard to judge either the music or the performances until you get past the oddity of the album's concept. Nevertheless, even though one may question the album's purpose and appeal, there should be no question about its sincerity. Ms. Pluhar and her fellow musicians appear wholly committed to the approach, whatever classification you might apply to it. She and her players are excellent, professional musicians who produce crisp, well-polished performances, whether you call it classical, jazz, or fusion.

The opening tune is a good example of the program's diversity as well as its controversy. Even the seasoned Handel admirer might have trouble recognizing the Sinfonia from Alcina, beginning as it does with light jazz riffs that take a while to open up into something resembling traditional Handel. The next piece, the aria "Venti, turbini" from Rinaldo, is more clearly Handel, especially when the countertenor Valer Sabadus enters, and no amount of jazz accents can hide the composer's rhythms.

And so it goes. The aria "O Sleep, why dost thou leave me" from Semele has the lovely quality of a music-box lullaby about it; the Vivaldi Allegro from Concerto in G minor finds a more jazz-oriented tone with double bass, piano, and clarinet dominating the piece until the rest of the players join in; and so on.

Earlier I asked whether the album would appeal more to jazz or classical lovers, and I'm hard pressed to provide an answer. There may not be enough of one or the other idiom to satisfy either camp. So maybe its appeal is to neither; that is, its major attraction may be to folks who don't have strong convictions one way or the other. Then again, those same listeners may think it's too much of one or the other, jazz or classical, so who knows.

The album is an odd duck, to be sure. My recommendation is to try and listen to as many selections from it as possible before laying out any cash. I found a lot of it delightful and fascinating, but at seventy-five minutes, it also seemed a bit too much of a good thing.

Sound, mixing, and mastering engineer Hugues Deschaux recorded the album in Switzerland in November 2016. The sonics have a smooth, well-rounded texture that is pleasing to the ear if not entirely transparent. The room acoustics open up the sound to a warm bloom, with a good sense of space and depth. Much of it, though, appears a bit too close up in relation to the softness of the music, which would seem to indicate a more distant perspective. Still, minor quibbles. The sound is appealing.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


Classical Music News of the Week, November 11, 2017

On Site Opera to Present Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star at the Eldridge St. Synagogue

Known for pioneering rare and captivating site-specific performances, On Site Opera (OSO) will produce the New York premiere (and the first production since its world premiere) of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star on March 21-22, and 25, 2018, at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, NYC, in partnership with the Museum at Eldridge Street. This follows their acclaimed recent productions of Mozart's Secret Gardener in an NYC community garden, Milhaud's Guilty Mother in a Hell's Kitchen garage, and the world premiere of Musto's Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt at the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.

Based on the Sylvia Regan play by the same name, Morning Star tells the touching story of an immigrant Jewish family struggling to find a better life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 20th century. The characters' destinies are shaped by actual historical events: the tragically horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 in which over one hundred immigrant garment workers died after having been locked in the upper floors of a New York City sweatshop, as well as the Great Depression, and World War I. Through it all, the family must learn how to adapt to the country's ever-changing landscape. OSO's performances will fall on and around the 107-year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25.

Dates & Location:
March 21 & 22, 2018 at 7pm
March 25, 2018 at 12:00pm & 5pm [These performances coincide with the 107th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire]
Museum at Eldridge Street
12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

Tickets: $60; General admission.
On sale January 11, 2018 at www.osopera.org.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Cast Announced for 42nd Street Moon's Holiday Production The Secret Garden
San Francisco's acclaimed 42nd Street Moon has announced the full cast and creative team for the 2017-2018 season's Holiday production, the Tony Award-winning family favorite The Secret Garden. Based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden has a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother) and music by Grammy Award-winner Lucy Simon. The Original Broadway Production won two Tony Awards in 1991: Best Book of a Musical (Marsha Norman) and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (11-year-old Daisy Eagan, making Eagan the youngest female Tony Award-winner to date).

42nd Street Moon's production of The Secret Garden will feature an all-female creative team, in honor and celebration of the musical's authors Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon (and of Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote the original novel). The production will be directed by Dyan McBride (42nd Street Moon's Holiday hit Scrooge in Love!), with musical direction by Lauren Mayer and choreography by Robyn Tribuzi (making her 42nd Street Moon debut).

The Secret Garden runs from December 6 - 24, 2017 and will perform at the Gateway Theatre (formerly the Eureka Theatre), 215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111. The press opening will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets range from $25 - $76 and can be purchased through the Box Office at (415) 255-8207 or online at www.42ndstmoon.org.

--Jonathan White PR

British Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor Debuts at 92Y
British keyboard sensation Benjamin Grosvenor makes his 92Y debut on Wednesday, November 15 at Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC, at 7:30 pm.  Raved by The Los Angeles Times as a pianist who "delivers virtuosity beyond his years" and " If you haven't heard him, hear him now,"  Benjamin first came to prominence as the outstanding winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of eleven, and he was invited to perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the 2011 BBC Proms at just nineteen. Since then, he has become an internationally regarded pianist and was announced in 2016 as the inaugural recipient of The Ronnie and Lawrence Ackman Classical Piano Prize with the New York Philharmonic.

In his 92Y debut recital, he begins with Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G major, BWV 816 followed by Brahms's Four Pieces, Op. 119, which are interspersed with Brett Dean's 2013 work, inspired by Brahms, Hommage à Brahms. The second half of the program opens with Debussy's Prelude to L'après-midi d'un faune, arranged by Leonard Borwick, and is followed by Berg's Sonata, Op. 1. Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit concludes the performance.

For more information, visit https://www.92y.org/event/benjamin-grosvenor-piano

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

Los Angeles Master Chorale Names Elizabeth Greenway Chief Advancement Officer
The Los Angeles Master Chorale has appointed Elizabeth Greenway to the position of Chief Advancement Officer. Greenway will lead the advancement and development initiatives of the Master Chorale, a resident company of The Music Center and the choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall led by Artistic Director Grant Gershon and President & CEO Jean Davidson. Greenway will assume her new position on Tuesday, November 28.

Greenway comes to the Los Angeles Master Chorale from Sundance Institute where she is the Director, Institutional Giving and Development Operations, a position she has held since 2015. Her tenure at Sundance began in 2010 as the Associate Director, Foundation and Government Giving before a promotion to Director, Foundation and Government Giving in 2011. She previously held a variety of positions at The Museum of Contemporary Art over a 10-year-period, including Grants Manager from 2005 to 2010.

For more information, visit www.lamasterchorale.org

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

92Y December Concerts
Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Sharon Isbin, guitar; with special guest Colin Davin, guitar

Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 3 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Brentano String Quartet

Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Jeremy Denk, piano

For more information, visit www.92Y.org

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Nicholas McGegan and PBO Perform Rare Handel Oratorio
No one interprets George Frideric Handel like Nic McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Nic has brought both the classic and rare works of Handel to audiences around the globe for over five decades. As Artistic Director and Conductor at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years, Nic shone new light on nearly twenty Handel operas. As a recording artist, Nic has explored the depth of the composer's output, with over 50 albums of Handel compositions including a dozen oratorios and close to twenty of his operas. And now, he's adding to that list with Handel's rarely performed oratorio Joseph and his Brethren with PBO in December.

Following the performances, PBO will record Joseph and his Brethren marking the first Handel oratorio recording for the Orchestra in 25 years. But unlike the usual live recordings, Nic will take the Orchestra, Chorale, and guest artists into the studio at Skywalker Sound in Marin for a three-day, high-tech recording session. This will be Philharmonia Baroque Productions' eleventh recording for digital and CD release and will be the second-ever recording of this rare and extraordinary work.

PBO Chorale Director Bruce Lamott says, "It's hard to find a Handel oratorio that has escaped our attention during the past 37 years, but we are performing Joseph and his Brethren for the very first time, and quite possibly the first time it has been seen in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nic's definitive interpretation will highlight the power of this musical saga in what may be a once-in-a-lifetime listening experience."

Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear Handel's Joseph and his Brethren in concerts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area December 14-17.

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2017-2018-season/joseph-and-his-brethren/

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Nashville Symphony Composer Lab & Workshop Brings Four Emerging Composers to Nashville Next
Following a nationwide call for submissions, the Nashville Symphony selected four promising young composers to participate in the second edition of its Composer Lab and Workshop, an initiative designed to cultivate the next generation of great American composers.

The four composers – Emily Cooley, James Diaz, Liliya Ugay and Shen Yiwen – arrive in Nashville this weekend to take part in the comprehensive program, led by Symphony music director Giancarlo Guerrero and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, during which they will showcase their music and learn about every facet of working with a major American orchestra.

"This program is an important part of the Symphony's long-standing commitment to promote the creation of new, forward-thinking American music," said Guerrero. "Each of these gifted artists represents the vibrancy and diversity of our country today, and each is helping to shape the sound of orchestral music in the 21st century. We're so thrilled to welcome them to Nashville and to help them take the next step in their careers — and we invite the community to hear what we believe will be the classics of the future."

The program will culminate with an open rehearsal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, when the GRAMMY-winning Nashville Symphony will perform works by all four Composer Lab participants at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit NashvilleSymphony.org/ComposerLab

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Don't Miss Festival Mozaic's Next WinterMezzo Weekend
Get Your Tickets and Plan Your Visit WinterMezzo II: February 23 - 25, 2018; San Luis Obispo, CA.

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.

Noam Elkies: E Sonata for flute and keyboard in E minor, op. 40
Albert Roussel: Serenade, op. 30
Jean Émile Paul Cras: Suite en Duo
Gabriel Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45

Muscians: Alice K. Dade, flute, John Novacek, piano, Jessica Chang, viola, Meredith Clark, harp, Scott Yoo, violin and Jonah Kim, cello.

For complete information, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/february-wintermezzo

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mozaic

Belafonte at Carnegie Hall (UltraHD review)

Harry Belafonte. Sony Music 88843025992, remastered.

Many years ago, in the 1960's and 70's, I used to listen to a popular weekly FM radio show in the San Francisco Bay Area called "Excursions in Stereo." Similar to John Sunier's even later "Audiophile Edition," "Excursions" gave people a chance to hear some of the best stereo then available. Every week the show's host, Jim Gabbert, would play cuts from his favorite albums, and every week he would invariably include a track or two from the 1959 RCA recording of Harry Belafonte's concert at Carnegie Hall. Naturally, I had to buy the two-LP set for myself, and when I did, I was not disappointed, except that I had taken a while to discover it. It remains one of the best, most realistic reproductions of a live pop concert I've ever heard.

When the CD era arrived, RCA cut out a few tracks and fit the program onto a single compact disc. But it wasn't the excising of four or five songs that disappointed me so much as their almost complete destruction of the sound of the live event. Fortunately, that became a forgotten issue, at least for a little while, because in the mid 90's Classic Compact Discs remastered the entire program on two gold discs, restoring much of the original sound (as well as the omitted songs). Gone was the silver disc's harshness and one-dimensionality, replaced by the master tape's richer, cleaner tones and three-dimensionality. Although the sound seemed a little drier than I remembered it from the old LP days, it still conveyed a sense of presence unmatched by most recent digital efforts. This was a treasured LP set that I regretted coming to late in its history, but I was more than happy to have acquired the gold edition. Too bad Classic Compact Discs went out of business years ago, and the gold discs are no longer available (except used, I suppose).

Well, that was my history with the recording until the present. Now, I'm happy to say, there's another choice, and it's better than anything that's come before. The current incarnation of the Belafonte concert comes to us via UltraHD PureFlection, one of the last projects that FIM (First Impression Music) producer Winston Ma was involved with prior to his death. To manage such a great-sounding disc, Winston had Michael Bishop of Five/Four Productions do the 32-bit remastering and used UltraHD, an extra-precise manufacturing process, to complete the job.

The UltraHD disc contains the following songs on the program:
  1. Introduction/Darlin' Cora
  2. Sylvie
  3. Cotton Fields
  4. John Henry
  5. The Marching Saints
  6. Day O
  7. Jamaica Farewell
  8. Mama Look A Boo Boo
  9. Come Back Liza
  10. Man Smart
  11. Hava Nageela
  12. Danny Boy
  13. Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma
  14. Shenandoah
  15. Matilda

Harry Belafonte
One thing noticeable about Belafonte's performances in this concert is that he generally slows things down compared to his equivalent studio releases. You'll observe it in things like "Day-O" and "Jamaica Farewell," which seem more heartfelt taken at the slightly slower pace. Other than that, Belafonte is Belafonte, the man who practically invented calypso; or, at least, popularized it in America. Wonderful music in 1959; wonderful music today.

To evaluate the disc's sound quality, needless to say I put it up against the best version I already had in my collection, the aforementioned gold edition from Classic Compact Discs. Here, the comparison was fascinating. The gold remastering had sounded so much better than RCA's silver disc, I couldn't imagine anything surpassing it. But after adjusting for playback levels, the UltraHD disc did, indeed, eclipse it. Especially in clarity. I had never noticed the gold discs sounding so soft or warm before, but compared to the crystalline clarity of the UltraHD disc, the gold discs appear decidedly veiled, if only slightly. Of course, you may prefer a softer, warmer sound because you think it's easier on the ear. Fair enough; individual preference always takes precedence. But, really, the UltraHD is not only more transparent, it's just as easy on the ear as the gold, with no brightness, harshness, edginess, or glare. What's more, it appears to preserve even more of the original master tape's legendary presence, depth, dimensionality, and general feeling of aliveness than the gold discs. So, overall, the UltraHD is a superb product; no reservations whatsoever.

You can find this product at a number of on-line vendors, but you'll find some of the best prices at Elusive Disc: http://www.elusivedisc.com/

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites 1 & 2 (SACD review)

Also, Four Norwegian Dances. Raymond Leppard, English Chamber Orchestra. Pentatone PTC 5186 231.

For many years now, some of my favorite recordings of Grieg's music for Peer Gynt have been those of Oivin Fjeldstad with the London Symphony Orchestra (Decca, Classic CD, and other labels), Sir Thomas Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (EMI/Warner or Hi-Q), and the one under consideration here, Raymond Leppard's 1975 album of suites recently remastered on SACD by Pentatone.

People today probably know Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) best for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt as well as for the Piano Concerto, although my guess is that listeners familiar with Peer Gynt know it from one or the other of the concert suites rather than the complete incidental music. Here, we get both suites, but if you want the complete score, you'll have to go elsewhere, to Per Dreier and the LSO (Unicorn), perhaps, or Neeme Jarvi and the Gothenburg Symphony (DG).

Anyway, the suites are enough for most folks, and, as I say, Leppard's handling of them is as good any. Grieg himself extracted the two suites from the complete score, but nobody published the original score until 1908, a year after the composer's death. So maybe that's why we know the suites better than the complete music. In any case, the suites contain all of the most-popular music from the score, four entries in each suite: "Morning Mood," "Aase's Death," "Anitra's Dance," and "In the Hall of the Mountain King"; then "The Abduction," "Arabian Dance," "Peer Gynt's Return," and "Solveig's Song."

Leppard's way with this material is always of the most refined quality. He never over dramatizes the music or over glamorizes it. Instead, he lets each movement unfold at a natural pace, using nuanced pauses and contrasts to underline the pictorial characteristics of the score. Leppard always has an eye toward atmosphere rather than pure theatricality; so, yes, there are other more exciting versions of this music you can find, but none as thoughtful.

Raymond Leppard
As a coupling, Pentatone offer Grieg's Four Norwegian Dances, also nicely done up by Leppard and his players. Note, though, that the latter Philips disc also includes these items, plus an additional twenty-four minute selection from Grieg's Old Norwegian Romance, Op. 51, recorded by Leppard half dozen years later with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Apparently, Pentatone decided that the material on the original disc was enough, or perhaps the later recording wasn't in surround sound.

Philips originally recorded the album in multichannel at the Walthamstow Town Hall, London, in November 1975, but released it only in two-channel stereo. Polyhymnia International B.V. remastered the recording for Pentatone Remastered Classics in December 2015 for hybrid stereo/multichannel playback. As always, if you have an SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) player, you can play either the two-channel or multichannel formats in SACD and if you have only a regular CD player, you can play the regular two-channel CD layer. I listened in two-channel SACD.

The recording provides probably still the best sound you can obtain in this music. The microphone placement gives us just the right amount of space between the instruments to create the illusion of a small orchestra in front of us in a large hall, with just the right amount of width and depth. What's more, the warmth of the acoustic heightens the illusion, without losing too much detail and definition; the bass is taut and deep; and the dynamics are strong.

Since I also had on hand the Philips disc of this same recording, I put it into the regular CD player and compared it side-by-side with the SACD 2-channel layer of the newer remaster. After some fiddling with level balances, it was pretty hard to tell the difference. While the SACD was perhaps a tad smoother and fuller overall, it could have been my imagination. However, since the Philips disc may prove hard to come by now that Philips have folded shop, the point may be moot. The Pentatone is a good listen.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


Classical Music News of the Week, November 4, 2017

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents a Pair of Christmas Concerts in December

Concerts at Saint Thomas continues its decades long New York City holiday tradition of performing Handel's Messiah at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street on December 5 & 7 at 7:30pm. Daniel Hyde conducts the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in their ongoing partnership with New York Baroque Incorporated, along with soloists Ellie Dehn, Clare McNamara, Lawrence Jones, and Jesse Blumberg. Hailed by The New York Times as "king among the innumerable [Messiah] performances in New York," it is the only Messiah in the city performed with men and boys' choir, and is considered by many to be the start of the Christmas Season.

On Thursday, December 14 at 5:30pm, Britten's transcendent and ethereal A Ceremony of Carols provides a meditative respite from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season. Daniel Hyde conducts the Boys of the Saint Thomas Choir along with award-winning harpist Bridget Kibbey. The piece, written for harp and boys' choir, unifies the various carols of the Christmas story with a blend of starkness and shivering beauty. The program will also feature works for choir and harp by Ireland and Hadley, as well as pieces for solo harp by Bach, Britten, and Agócs.

All concerts take place at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC.

Tickets may be purchased at www.SaintThomasChurch.org/music/concerts, by calling the Concerts Office at (212) 664-9360, by email at concerts@SaintThomasChurch.org, or in person at the Concerts Office at One West 53rd Street at Fifth Avenue (enter through the Parish House).

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

LA Master Chorale's Christmas Concerts in Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Los Angeles Master Chorale will perform five festive Christmas concerts in Walt Disney Concert Hall in December. The choral programs are a much-loved Los Angeles holiday tradition and these concerts frequently sell out.

A blend of favorite Christmas carols, songs, and popular classical compositions, the series of concerts also includes a Messiah Sing-Along concert which allows the audience to sing as the choir. Tickets to all concerts start at $29 and are available now online from lamasterchorale.org, by calling the Box Office at 213-972-7282, or in person from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, Monday – Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.

"Festival of Carols with Eric Whitacre"
Saturday, December 2, 2017 – 2 pm
Saturday, December 9, 2017 – 2 pm

Bach: The Six Motets
Sunday, December 10, 2017 – 7 pm

Handel's Messiah
Sunday, December 17, 2017 – 7 pm

37th Annual Messiah Sing-Along
Monday, December 18, 2017 – 7:30 pm

Tickets to all concerts are available now, starting from $29:
Online: lamasterchorale.org
Phone: 213-972-7282
Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Cellist Truls Mork & World Premiere by Shuying Li
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra continues its 2017-2018 season on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, NYC, with a performance featuring Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk in Shostakovich's first Cello Concerto and the world premiere of Shuying Li's Out Came the Sun, inspired by the profound and transformative experience of postpartum motherhood. Also on the program is Handel's Water Music, which is featured on two of Orpheus' internationally acclaimed Deutsche Grammophon albums from 1992 and 2003, and Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite.

Single tickets for the December 2 performance, priced from $12.50 to $115, are available for purchase at the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th and 7th, can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website at carnegiehall.org.

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

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Fifth Graders to Perform Their Own Songs November 15 & 17
There are two pivotal moments during the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Voices Within education program when the reality of creating their own songs truly resonates with the fifth grade students taking part: the first is when they realize that they are expected to create the melody for their song — it is not being written for them; and the second is when they are standing alongside professional Master Chorale singers, about to perform the songs they composed.

"They straighten up," says Teaching Artist, lyricist Brett Paesel, "and you see them be like, 'Oh! This is really happening!"

For students at Huntington Park Elementary School and Mt. Washington Elementary School these performances will happen on Wednesday, November 15 (Huntington Park Elementary, 6055 Corona Avenue, Huntington Park, CA 90255) and Friday, November 17 (Mt. Washington Elementary, 3981 San Rafael Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90065) when they perform their songs for fellow students, teachers, and friends and family. Each school will give two performances.

For complete information, visit lamasterchoroale.org

--Jennifer Scott, LA Master Chorale

Angela Hewitt Returns to Bach Odyssey at 92Y
Angela Hewitt, "the outstanding Bach pianist of her generation" (The Sunday Times, London), returns to 92Y's Kauffman Hall, NYC, on Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30 pm to showcase her skills as one of the world's foremost performers and Bach interpreters in the second year of her four-season journey (12 recitals) of Bach's complete keyboard works.

"Hewitt played Bach's three-part inventions so that they came over as one single variegated work, with the plangent ninth acting as its dark heart, in the way the Black Pearl variation does for the Goldbergs." The Independent (London) opined. Ms. Hewitt was named 'Artist of the Year' at the 2006 Gramophone Awards, and in 2015 she was promoted to a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Fun facts: Ms. Hewitt will meet about 20 students from the High School for Public Service in Brooklyn prior to the concert for a Q&A session in 92Y's Warburg Lounge. This activity is part of the 92Y's Concerts Schools Project that aims to enhance music education for students at NYC public high schools through attendance at live performances in 92Y's world-class Concerts Series and participation in classroom workshops led by professional performing artists.

For more information, visit https://www.92y.org/event/angela-hewitt-bach-odyssey-iv

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

"From Ghetto to Cappella": Interfaith Exchanges in the Music of Baroque Italy
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts program of Italian music opens with an unaccompanied Yemeni chant. The text by Dunash ha-Levi ben Labrat (920-990) is a prayer for peace and freedom, a prayer in praise of the Sabbath, a prayer for security by an uprooted people.

Jews from the Middle East were transplanted to Italy as early as Ancient Roman times, as Jews expelled from Spain found a home there after 1492. Italian Jewish communities incorporated descendants of both Sephardic refugees as well as those of slaves brought back from Judaea by conquering Roman armies. That the Jewish presence in Italy was characterized by the familiar and precarious balance between assimilation and exile is well known. What is less commonly explored is the cross-fertilization between Jewish and Christian musical cultures, and the impact this exchange had on mainstream compositional voices of the seicento.

Thursday, November 16th at 8:00pm
The Brotherhood Synagogue, 28 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003

For tickets, call 1 888 718 4253, or go to http://www.salonsanctuary.org

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

5BMF Presents the Finale of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II
On Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:30pm, preceded by a 7:00pm Composer/Poet chat, Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) presents the Brooklyn premiere and grand finale performance of the Five Borough Songbook, Volume II with expanded casting at National Sawdust. The project, which premiered in Manhattan and Queens earlier this year in honor of 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 received its Staten Island premiere on September 16 at Trinity Lutheran Church and its Bronx premiere on September 17 at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture.

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 for this concert include sopranos Justine Aronson and Marnie Breckenridge; mezzo-sopranos Hai-Ting Chinn and Amanda Crider; tenors William Ferguson and Miles Mykkanen; baritones Christopher Dylan Herbert and Jorell Williams; cellist Sophie Shao; and pianists Thomas Bagwell and Erika Switzer.

Concert Information:
Five Borough Songbook, Vol. II:
Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (7:00 p.m. Composer Chat)
National Sawdust | 80 N 6th Street | Brooklyn, NY
Tickets: $29 in Advance, $34 at the Door at https://nationalsawdust.org/event/five-borough-songbook-volume-ii/

For more information, visit Please visit www.5bmf.org

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

EXO (The Experimental Orchestra) Invites You to a Nutcracker Dance Party
Have you always wanted to dance with the Sugarplum Fairies, or to glide to the soaring strings in the pas de deux? Now is your chance! EXO is building on its famous Rite of Spring Dance Party, inviting you to immerse yourself in the heart of the orchestra with a Nutcracker Dance Party!

Both the adult-only (Thursday, November 30 at 8pm) and the family-friendly (Saturday, December 2 at 2:30pm) version of the concert offer an opportunity to get up close with the orchestra and dance to your heart's desire. The Thursday, November 30th concert offers a ticket package where you can sit INSIDE the orchestra, experiencing the music from within. Seasonal cocktails will be offered to further encourage carefree dancing.

Note that no ballet experience is necessary, and if you would rather not dance, there are seats available either inside the orchestra, where the sound will surround you and embrace you in true EXO style, or off to the sides (if you'd prefer to be like Clara, aka Maire, in the second act).

Holiday themed-attire and ballet costumes are welcome!
Tickets available at www.experientialorchestra.com/concerts/.

Nutcracker Dance Party:
Thursday, November 30 at 8pm
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, NYC)
$40 for dancing or standing room
$75 for a seat inside the orchestra
$100 VIP ticket with champagne reception

Nutcracker Dance Party for Kids (5+ with their adult dancing companions):
Saturday, December 2 at 2:30pm
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, NYC)
Adult tickets: $40 for dancing-room or seats farther away, and $75 for prime seating.
Kid tickets: $25 for one, $45 for two, and $60 for three. (All children must be accompanied by an adult dancing companion.)

For more information, visit www.experientialorchestra.com

--Elizabeth Holub, Experimental Orchestra

The Nutcracker: A Festive Tradition Now in Its 15th Year at Salisbury Symphony
Back by overwhelming demand, the Salisbury Symphony and the Piedmont Dance Theatre have announced their collaboration to bring Tchaikovsky's iconic ballet The Nutcracker to Keppel Auditorium (2300 W Innes St, Salisbury, NC 28144) this December. The much-loved holiday ballet continues to break box-office records for Keppel, reaching 100% capacity for three years running. This season's performances will be held on Saturday, December 16th at 6:30pm, with a matinee performance on Sunday, December 17th at 2:30pm.

Now in its 15th year, with a new cast from Piedmont Dance Theatre's troupe and in a revised production as conceived by Marius Petipa, The Nutcracker is choreographed by American Ballet Theatre alumna and internationally acclaimed dance star Rebecca Wiley and Juilliard-trained Daniel Wiley, named by Charlotte Magazine as the city's "Best Male Dancer".

To celebrate the production's 15th anniversary, The Nutcracker will showcase guest dancers Kathleen Breen Combes performing the role of the 'Sugar Plum Fairy' and Yury Yanowsky as the 'Cavalier.' Ms. Breen Combes, a principal dancer of 15 - years with Boston Ballet, has been hailed by The New York Times as a "ballerina of colossal scale and boldness." Mr. Yanowsky, a 22-year veteran with Boston Ballet, has danced many lead roles with the company and is an award-winning choreographer.

For complete information, visit https://www.salisburysymphony.org/

--James Harvey, Salisbury Symphony

Humperdinck: Hansel und Gretel (CD review)

Anna Moffo, Helen Donath, Christa Ludwig, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Lucia Popp; Kurt Eichhorn, Munich Radio Orchestra. RCA 74321-25281-2 (2-disc set).

German composer Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 opera Hansel und Gretel is surely one of the sweetest, gentlest, most tuneful, yet exciting pieces of music ever written for children or adults. It has all the qualities of a great fairy tale.

What's more, it has been fortunate over the years to have received a number of good recordings, in particular the 1953 mono version from Karajan, Schwarzkopf, and company (EMI). But for listeners who won't put up with monaural sound, this reissue from RCA, with only the slightest hint of tape hiss, provides a pleasing, mid-priced alternative. Indeed, of all the stereo versions available, this one, originally recorded for Eurodisc in 1971 is probably the best bargain. It does not quite outweigh the merits of Sir Colin Davis's stereo set for Philips, but it sounds as good or better.

Kurt Eichhorn
Humperdinck based the plot on the popular tale by the Brothers Grimm about a brother and sister who live on the edge of a forest. The forest is haunted by a witch who bakes little children into gingerbread. Their family is very poor, and one day while picking berries, Hansel and Gretel get lost and captured by the witch. But the resourceful children turn the tables on the witch, shoving her into the oven, instead. The story is simple enough for kids to follow, as well as non opera buffs. With its abundance of cheerful, enchanting, atmospheric, and sometimes spooky melodies, it's a sure crowd pleaser.

Maestro Kurt Eichhorn's direction is the real star of the show. He conducts the piece with a winning simplicity that is hard to resist. The stars, too, do their part; and a more star-studded cast one could hardly ask for. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the father is especially appealing, and Christa Ludwig as the Witch is appropriately sinister, if not too menacing. Anna Moffo is an adequate Hansel and Helen Donath makes a delicate Gretel, although both of their voices seem a little old for children.

RCA's sound is wide, deep, and ambient, very slightly veiled but set within a reasonably natural acoustic. The rival Karajan mono set is more Wagnerian in scope, yet it is still as intimate as any of them; if it were in stereo, it would be my unconditional first choice. As it stands, we have alternatives from the aforementioned Colin Davis, whose interpretation is most magical but whose sound is a bit more inflated than the rest; from Jeffrey Tate (EMI), who is most energetic and except for some edginess the best recorded; and from Donald Runnicles (Teldec), one I have not actually heard but about which I have read good notices.

Anyway, this RCA reissue is close to the best, and for its asking price makes a safe first-time investment.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


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