Classical Music News of the Week, September 22, 2018

American Bach Soloists Gala: Sparkle 2018 "Versailles"

Artistic Director Jeffrey Thomas, Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter, and the Musicians, Board, and Staff of American Bach Soloists invite you to join them for an illuminating San Francisco evening: The 16th Annual Gala Auction, Concert, & Dinner.

Celebrating the Court of Louis XIV and the Music of France and Honoring the First Three Decades of Jeffrey Thomas's Artistic Leadership.

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 5:00pm
James Leary Flood Mansion, San Francisco, CA

Enjoy an exclusive and superlative performance in the Flood Mansion's Chapel (rarely accessible to the public). Bid on exciting auction items while enjoying superb cuisine and excellent wines and cocktails. All proceeds will benefit the ABS Academy.

Auction highlights:
A trip to Versailles, ABS exclusive events in private homes, concert tickets, wine, art, jewelry, and much more.

Order of events:
5:00 p.m., arrival and check-in
Cocktails, Baroque dancing by San Francisco Renaissance Dancers & Dance Through Time

5:30 p.m.
Concert by American Bach Soloists, featuring Elizabeth Blumenstock, Sandra Miller, Nola Richardson, Steven Lehning, and Corey Jamason; Jeffrey Thomas, conductor.

Musical program:
Jacques Aubert le Vieux (1689-1753)
Concert de Simphonies
Suite No. 2 in D Major, Op. 9

François Couperin (1668-1733)
Deuxième Concert Royaux in D Major

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
L'impatience

Jean-Féry Rebel (1666–1747)
Les Caractères de la Danse

6:30 p.m.
Silent Auction with Cocktails & Hors d'oeuvres served
Optional Baroque Dancing lessons

7:30 p.m.
Dinner and live auction

For complete information, visit https://americanbach.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/Sparkle2018Versailles/tabid/912069/Default.aspx

For tickets, call 800-595-4849 or visit https://americanbach.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2641

--American Bach Soloists

PBO 2018/19 Season Opener: "Mozart Magnified"
With the full force of the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, and the Orchestra's vibrant range on period instruments, PBO's authenticity shines brightest in simple and dramatic moments of Mozart's most glorious vocal works. Join PBO with exquisite Puerto Rican soprano Camille Ortiz and a star-studded cast as we celebrate Mozart--an ordinary man with extraordinary talents.

Mozart: Litaniae Lauretanae, BMV in D Major, K. 195
Mozart: Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
Mozart: Mass No. 15 in C major, "Coronation"

Performance schedule:
Wednesday, October 3 @ 7:30 pm: Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA
Friday, October 5 @ 8 pm: Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Saturday, October 6 @ 8 pm: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA
Sunday, October 7 @ 4 pm: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

For complete information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/mozart-magnified/

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale

Don't miss the YPC Big Sing This Saturday
Saturday, September 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

Join Young People's Chorus of New York City's Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, and special guests Rollo Dilworth, Mark Shapiro, and Sesame Street's Bob McGrath, in the first-ever YPC Big Sing!

For more information, visit https://ypc.org/event/big-sing/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Noteworthy News from Festival Mozaic
Music Director Scott Yoo just wrapped a week of recording in Glasgow with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Joining them was cello soloist Bion Tsang. (Hot tip: you can see Bion in San Luis Obispo in February.)

Yoo's next stop? Italy, then England, filming episode four of "Now Hear This," Scott's television program which is slated to hit the airwaves on PBS as part of Great Performances in Spring 2019. Then he's back to Mexico to conduct the Mexico City Philharmonic, where he is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. We'll look forward to welcoming him back to California in October for our first WinterMezzo weekend!

Marcie Hawthorne, the creator of Festival Mozaic's 2018 original artwork Music Without Borders, will be opening her show "Gifts of the Muses: Music and Nature" at SLO Provisions on Friday, October 5 as part of Art After Dark. The show will feature all new works by Hawthorne, who is generously splitting the proceeds from any art sales with Festival Mozaic. Please come join us to support art, music, and fine food.

Festival bassist Susan Cahill will present a free master class for local musicians and students, in collaboration with the Cal Poly Music Department and San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony. Join Susan on Tuesday, October 23 at 7:30pm at the Cal Poly Davidson Music Center as she provides instruction, suggestions, and constructive feedback to musicians in our community. All of the Festival master classes are free to attend and for students to participate in.

For more information, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/

--Festival Mosaic

Princeton University Concerts Launches Single-Work "Up Close" Series
Princeton University Concerts has been committed to changing how audiences experience classical music concerts. Its "Performances Up Close" series, created three years ago in anticipation of the 2018-19 125th anniversary season, has been at the forefront of this mission.

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 6PM and 9PM, the first of this three-concert series invites audience members to sit on stage at Richardson Auditorium, "up-close" with the Takács Quartet and cellist David Requiro to experience an hour-long, single-work program featuring one of music's most transcendent pieces: Franz Schubert's Cello Quintet in C Major, D. 956, the last chamber work that the composer ever wrote. By offering this remarkable piece of music a chance to breathe and stand on its own, this forward-thinking series goes straight to the spiritual and communal core of chamber music. Every detail of this concert, from stage lighting to seating configuration, is specially curated to foster as direct an experience of the musical work as possible, including readings by Broadway actor and director Michael Dean Morgan and concert design by Michael Dean Morgan and Wesley Cornwell.

Tickets for both performances are already sold out. Any returned tickets will be released for purchase an hour prior to each performance at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

For more information, visit princetonuniversityconcerts.org

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

Encompass New Opera Theatre Presents World Premiere of Anna Christie
Encompass New Opera Theatre will present the World Premiere of Anna Christie with music by Edward Thomas, set to a libretto by Joseph Masteroff, with 12 performances beginning on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 8pm and running through Sunday, October 21, 2018, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (at 55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues) in Manhattan.

Nancy Rhodes is stage director and Julian Wachner conducts the Ionisation New Music Ensemble. The cast includes Frank Basile (Chris Christopherson, Anna Christie's father), Jonathan Estabrooks (Mat Burke), Melanie Long (Anna Christie), Joy Hermalyn (Marthy Owen), and Mike Pirozzi (Larry the Bartender).

For complete information, visit https://www.encompasstheatre.org/anna-christie/

--Jeffrey James Arts Consulting

Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen Named ABS 2019 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient
American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen has quickly been identified as one of classical music's most promising rising stars.

A standout among the superb young artists who have attended the ABS Academy, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen has received tremendous accolades since he first worked with us. ABS audiences have already had two opportunities to hear his extraordinary singing. Thousands of holiday concertgoers heard his ravishing delivery of "He was despised" and other arias in our 2017 performances of Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral, and Aryeh offered an "ABS Exclusive" concert last December, performing works by Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi.

The Jeffrey Thomas Award is granted annually at the Artistic Director's discretion to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of early music who show extraordinary promise and accomplishment. Inaugurated in 2013, the Jeffrey Thomas Award was created by the American Bach Soloists in celebration of their first 25 years of presenting performances in Northern California, across the United States, and around the world, and ABS Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas's tenure of inspired leadership.

For more information, visit americanbach.org

--American Bach Soloists

Bridge: The Sea (CD review)

Also, Enter Spring; Summer; Cherry Ripe; Lament. Sir Charles Groves, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI CDM 7243-5-66855-2.

The English composer, violist, and conductor Frank Bridge (1879-1941) was one of England's principal pastoral composers in the years just preceding and just following World War I. Although Bridge was to become more modernist as time went on, his music nevertheless remained largely harmonic and impressionistic.

Bridge's early tone poems, represented here, are excellent examples of early twentieth-century English pastoral writing. Yes, his work would become increasingly more complex and troubled over the years, yet Bridge wrote these pieces, as we see by their descriptive titles alone, to reflect a serene, natural beauty.

Sir Charles Groves
The Sea, from 1910, is probably his most famous and most-popular work, a composition clearly influenced by Debussy's La Mer of a few years earlier. Likewise, in Summer, Cherry Ripe, and Lament, from 1914-1916, one can hear echoes of contemporary English composers Arnold Bax and Frederick Delius. Enter Spring, from 1927, the latest composition date on the disc, is the most mature work included, not just in its year of completion but in its level of development. It is still pastoral in style and relatively tranquil, but it shows a marked increase in orchestral color, contrast, and elaboration. 

Although I have not heard every recording of these works ever committed to disc, I cannot imagine there being any finer renditions, interpretively or sonically, than these from Sir Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Sir Charles delivers performances of the utmost care and affection, and the Liverpool players perform them with supreme confidence.

Producer John Willan and balance engineer John Kurlander recorded the music at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool in July 1975. They provide sound that is full, refined, well balanced, and wholly convincing. It sets off a most-pleasing collection.

JJP

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


Ecosse Maestro MA2 Interconnect Cables (Cable review)

Ecosse Reference Cables. The Stables@The Countryhouse, Kilmarnock, Scotland KA3 6EX (http://www.ecossecables.co.uk/)

What? I hear you say: Why is Puccio reviewing a piece of hardware? And a controversial part of the hardware chain at that, a pair of interconnect cables. I thought he was a music-only man. Reasonable enough. But it is the hardware that allows us to hear the recording, so the equipment seems fair game. Besides, I decided it was time for a change, and what better a change than a pair of audio interconnect cables.

Again, I hear you asking: Why audio cables? I mean, everybody already knows that cables either (1) make all the difference in the world in the sound of a hi-fi system or (2) make no difference whatsoever. No, there aren't many people in the hi-fi or audiophile world who hold a neutral position on the topic. You're either in the cable camp or you're not; you either believe or you don't.

Let me tell you a brief story that may explain where I stand on the subject. A long time ago, maybe thirty years or more, an audiophile friend of mine decided to do a cable shoot-out at his house. He invited about a dozen of his audiophile buddies and me (I was never an audiophile; I couldn't afford it) to bring their favorite audio cables to a comparison test using his Sound Lab electrostatic speakers. He asked me to bring the cheapest pair of cables I could find so we'd have a solid contrast. I went to the nearest Radio Shack and bought a pair of their least expensive models, while the other guests brought some quite fancy (and quite expensive) stuff, including several people who owned their own cable companies, making and selling their own exotic products.

We spent the evening doing blind tests, writing notes, and not discussing anything until we had heard all the cables. Then we each rank ordered our picks, and my friend added up the scores. Remarkably, all of us at the event picked the same three cables as best; not in the same order, mind you, but the top three cables appeared on all of our lists as numbers one, two, or three. Just as remarkably, three more, different cables appeared at the bottom of everyone's list, one of the bottom three being the Radio Shack pair I had brought. It was also interesting that among the top three cables was a pair that a man had built himself by picking out a Belden cable on specs alone from a catalogue of about a million Belden cables. He fastened on two pair of gold ends that must have cost him ten times the price of the cable, and the result sounded so good that afterwards I made up a pair for myself and used them for years. (Later, moving my equipment to another cabinet necessitated longer cables, and by then I couldn't remember the Belden cable number or the name of the guy who built them, so I went with a good, popular cable brand of the day.)

Whatever, here's the thing: Some years after that, I wrote up the story of the shoot-out for a magazine I worked for at the time, telling the story pretty much as I explained it above. In the next issue, a colleague took me to task. The fellow writer said, basically, that all of us at the shoot-out were wrong, that we must have all been hallucinating, that there were absolutely no differences in the sound of one cable and another, that a cable was a cable, and that we were all hearing things. Yes, people get awfully worked up about interconnect cables, taking sides as though hi-fi were politics or religion. Or something really important like Star Wars movies.

Still, I heard what I heard that night, and so did twelve or so other people. As a result, I have tried to keep an open mind about the subject ever since. And, thus, we come to the present comparison, started more out of curiosity than anything else.

I decided after all these years to try out new connecting cables between my main CD player and my preamp. I wasn't about to attempt a full-blown cable shoot-out (which I would never have been able to do anyway, the logistics being darned near impossible). I just wanted to see if a modern interconnect of good repute would sound better than the good (and best-selling brand) I had used for years. I also realized there were hundreds of companies making "audiophile" cables, with each company making a host of different models. No shoot-out could possibly be comprehensive. So, I started by researching what other people knowledgeable on the subject had said, and found the Ecosse company of Scotland showing up strongly in various on-line comparison tests, as well as winning some major hi-fi awards. Since I had never heard of Ecosse before, I figured I would have no preconceptions about them. I contacted Elliot Davis, founder of Ecosse Cables, and he graciously agreed to send out a pair of his Maestro MA2's for listening.

Next, how to test them. The longer and best way to test any piece of new hardware is to install in your system and live with it for a week or two. Then take it back out and listen to your old component again. The quicker way, however, is to arrange an A-B test against your old equipment for instant comparison. I decided to do both.

Fortuitously, my main CD player, a Sony XA20ES, has two identical outputs. By connecting them to two different inputs on my preamp, I was able to use the preamp as a switch box for easy comparisons. Of course, I first had to make certain that both CD outputs were, indeed, identical. So, before connecting the Ecosse cables, I connected the second CD output to the preamp with a cable (that I had stored in the garage) exactly the same as the old one. Then I put on several recordings (including one of pink noise) and alternated between the two identical older cables, using a sound meter to be sure they were outputting the same volume and listening to be sure they sounded alike. Having satisfied myself that the two CD outputs were the same, I connected the new Ecosse cables next to my old ones and started the comparison. After an evening of A-B comparing using a variety of discs (and utilizing the talents of a very patient and understanding wife clicking back and forth at the preamp), I prepared for the long haul of listening to the Ecosse product by itself for a week or more.

Elliot Davis
Some of the discs I used during the testing included the classical: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra. Philips); Handel: Messiah (Ohrwall, Members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. FIM/Proprius); Haydn: Baryton Divertimenti (The Esterhazy Machine. Smithsonian. FoM); Holst: The Planets (Previn, London Symphony Orchestra. Hi-Q Records/EMI); Mozart: Three Divertimenti for Strings (Marriner, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. FIM/Philips); Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 4 (Mutter, LPO. JVC XRCD/DG); Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances (Oue, Minnesota Orchestra. Reference Recordings); and Stravinsky: L'Histoire du Soldat (Ars Nova. HDTT/Westminster). Plus, an assortment of pop discs: Basie Jam (Analogue Productions gold/Pablo); Creedence Clearwater Chronicle (Fantasy gold); Jazz (Ry Cooder. Warner Bros.); Jazz at the Pawnshop (Arne Domnerus. FIM/Proprius); River Road (Eric Bibb and Bert Deivert, Opus 3); Slowhand (Eric Clapton. Mobile Fidelity gold/Polydor); Tango Tango (Viveza. Master Music XRCD); and Touch (John Klemmer. Mobile Fidelity gold/ABC/MCA).

Finally, to the point, how did the Ecosse cables sound compared to my old (and very popular) cables? In a word, better.

But I know what you want me to say, what you probably expect me to say: that it was an open-and-shut case, a matter of night and day. It wasn't. It was more like a matter of twilight and day. The differences were there for one to hear, but they were often subtle. Remember, I was comparing the Ecosse cables to a pair of very good cables; I wouldn't have lived with the old ones for as long as I did if they weren't pretty good.

With the Ecosse cables the width of the sound stage seemed about the same, yet there was a slightly greater sense of air around the instruments that made the recording hall or studio ambience all the more pronounced. Highs appeared a bit more extended with the Ecosse product, too, clearer and cleaner, with better sheen. Bass seemed almost the same, if a degree tauter, better defined, with the Ecosse product.

Midrange transparency was where I found differences most noticeable. Voices, for instance, sounded a degree better focused with the Ecosse cables, and all-around transparency was a tad more pleasing. The effect in listening to the old cables was something akin to putting one's hands lightly over one's ears. The differences were not dramatic, but they were discernible under almost all conditions and with almost every disc I put on. The battle for overall detail and clarity kept favoring the Ecosse product, my old cables sounding somewhat duller and more veiled by comparison. Differences in transient response and impact were harder to detect, though. Here, the slender variations I heard could have been the result of the Ecosse's better clarity. Who knows.

In all, the Ecosse Maestro MA2's seemed to do a better job than my old cables, producing a touch fuller, smoother, more lucid sound. Yet, as I say, it wasn't night-and-day for me, and without the benefit of the initial period of A-B testing, I'm not entirely sure I would have noticed the differences at all. Nor am I sure everyone would benefit from upgrading to Ecosse or any other new cables, depending on one's equipment, one's hearing, and one's interest in the whole subject.

Nevertheless, if you are still using the cheap cables that came with your system when you bought it, or if you're just of a mind to experiment, I doubt you could do any better than to try out one of Ecosse's full line of cables. Their prices start at the more-affordable level (under $100 a pair) and go up to over $2,000 a pair; you have a full slate to choose from. (The Maestros I sampled were a little over $200 a pair at the dealers I checked.)

Anyway, maybe Ecosse's Web site would provide better answers than I can give, and the site can also show you the differences among their various products: http://www.ecossecables.co.uk/

Happy listening.

JJP

Classical Music News of the Week, September 15, 2018

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Opens Season with "Mozart Magnified"

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale opens its 2018/19 "Transcendence" season on the wings of sacred vocal works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on Oct. 3, 2018. Joining Music Director Nicholas McGegan are four returning guest artists, among them Puerto Rican soprano Camille Ortiz, who received an exuberant reception in PBO's operatic production of Rameau's Le Temple de la Gloire in 2017.

The program highlights as its centerpiece the "Exsultate, Jubilate," featuring the Orchestra and soprano Ortiz. Hailed for her agile technique, pure tone and vocal color throughout her range, Ortiz's sound complements the detailed delivery and richness of PBO's period instruments.

To open the program, McGegan leads the Orchestra & Chorale through the graceful "Litaniae Lauretanae." Chorale Director Bruce Lamott's steep command of the language of the Classical era informs the ensemble's fluent articulation so vital to upholding the work's subtlety. Closing the performance with the "Coronation" Mass No. 15 in C major, the under-thirty-minute masterpiece captures the fulsome spirit of a season of transcendent music with PBO.

PBO's season opening performance, "Mozart Magnified," takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford; Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; Saturday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 7, 4 p.m. both at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.

Single tickets for the 2018/19 Season are on sale at City Box Office and Stanford Live. Subscription details can be found online at philharmonia.org/subscribe. Look for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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 p.m.

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Breakthrough New Work
Composer and master bandoneón player JP Jofre joins the ranks of those who have ventured into new musical spheres by writing the first-ever double concerto that couples his devilishly difficult instrument and the violin in a breakthrough chamber music work commissioned by violinist Michael Guttman, music director of the Symphony Napa Valley. The recording of the Double Concerto for Violin and Bandoneón, No. 1 features Jofre, Guttman and the acclaimed Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. It was made available September 14th on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and SoundCloud.

In writing the double concerto, Jofre wanted to bring an orchestral perspective to the music of his native Argentina. While steeped in the world of tango and Argentinian folk music and dance, the piece reflects Jofre's respect for the classical canon. He counts as his influences Bach, Bartok, Stravinsky, and of course his fellow countryman, nuevo tango legend Astor Piazzolla, among others. The double concerto is a conversation not only between the bandoneón and violin, and the soloists and orchestra, but also between the traditional and the modern. The concerto form is classic, the execution pure Jofre.

Jofre's creativity and expressiveness as an artist and composer were extolled in a New York Times profile when his first CD was released: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/arts/music/in-new-works-j-p-jofre-celebrates-the-bandoneon.html

--Diane Blackman, BR Public Relations

Georgian Pianist Nicolas Namoradze Wins 2018 Honens International Piano Competition
Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze (age 26) has been named Prize Laureate of the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition. He wins the world's largest prize for piano $100,000 (CAD) and an Artist Development Program valued at a half-million dollars. Finalists Han Chen (Taiwan / age 26) and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner (United States / age 21) each received Raeburn Prizes of $10,000 (CAD), and for the first time in Honens' history an Audience Award of $5,000 (CAD) was presented to Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner.

"What a wonderful thing for Honens ... what a wonderful thing for Nicolas Namoradze!" says Neil Edwards, Honens' President & CEO. "The journey that began with receipt of his application and ended tonight is merely the first leg of an exciting multiyear trek and we look forward."

The Competition's Jury included Alessio Bax (Italy / USA), Ingrid Fliter (Argentina / Italy), Wu Han (Taiwan / USA), Annette Josef (Germany), André Laplante (Canada), Asadour Santourian (USA), and Minsoo Sohn (Korea).

"Over the past two weeks, our jury and devoted audiences have experienced world-class pianism of the highest possible level," adds Jon Kimura Parker, Honens' Artistic Director. "The Honens International Piano Competition has brought artistry, emotion, virtuosity, and creativity to Calgary and to the world. We offer our warmest congratulations to all of the pianists and special congratulations to the 2018 Honens Prize Laureate, Nicolas Namoradze."

In addition to the $100,000 (CAD) prize, the Honens Prize Laureate is awarded a comprehensive three-year Artist Development Program, which includes debut recitals in some of the world's leading concert houses, concert opportunities with leading orchestras, professional management, residencies, and recordings.

For more information, visit http://www.honens.com/

--Shear Arts Services

Celebrate with Us at the YPC Big Sing!
Saturday, September 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

Join Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, and special guests Rollo Dilworth, Mark Shapiro, and Sesame Street's Bob McGrath, in the first-ever Young People's Chorus Big Sing!

For more information, visit https://ypc.org/event/big-sing/

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

Heifetz Institute Names Nichols Kitchen of the Borromeo Quartet as New Artistic Director
The Heifetz International Music Institute today announced the selection of solo violinist, chamber musician, teacher, video artist, technology innovator and arts administrator Nicholas Kitchen as its new Artistic Director.

Kitchen, a faculty member of the New England Conservatory, is also the first violinist of the Conservatory's resident Borromeo String Quartet, an ensemble acclaimed for its "edge-of-the-seat performances" by the Boston Globe. The Borromeo Quartet, co-founded by Kitchen and his wife, cellist Yeesun Kim in 1989, is also the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Heifetz Institute, as well as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the Taos School of Music in new Mexico.

Nicholas Kitchen will succeed Daniel Heifetz, who founded the Institute that bears his name in 1996. Mr. Heifetz will continue his association with the Institute as the organization's Artistic Director Emeritus. Heifetz stated, "I am thrilled with the decision of the Heifetz Institute's Board of Directors to name Nicholas Kitchen as my successor.

For more information, visit https://www.heifetzinstitute.org/

--Dworkin & Company

Award-Winning Guitarist Sharon Isbin
Multiple Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin will appear at the Herbst Theatre for San Francisco Performances on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30pm with Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo and with the Santa Rosa Symphony performing Heitor Villa-Lobos's Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra on November 3 & 5 at 7:30pm and November 4 at 3pm at the Green Music Center's Weill Hall.

Brazilian jazz guitarist and Latin Grammy winner Romero Lubambo, who was Isbin's guest on her Guitar Passions release and tour, and included in the award-winning documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour, share a lyrical sensibility that makes their duets a natural extension of improvisation, classical music, and cross-cultural exploration. Their most recent New York performance for an audience of 1400 this spring was recognized by the press hailing, "the audience was amazed at the pair's sensitivity, technique and chemistry."

The program will feature works by Albéniz, Granados, de Falla, Rodrigo, Sávio, Lauro, Jobim, Mangoré, York and Montaña. Tickets are $60-$40 and available at www.sfperformances.org.

For complete information, visit http://www.sharonisbin.com/

--Genevieve Spielberg Inc.

SOLI's Milestone 25th Anniversary Season is Here
"Traces"
Monday, October 1, 2018. 7:30 PM. Jazz TX
Tuesday, October 2, 2018. 7:30 PM. Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas

SOLI (Soli Chamber Ensemble) kicks off its 25th anniversary season with spectacular music and great friends. Music by Jennifer Higdon, Caroline Shaw, Natalie Draper, Kareem Roustom, and no season would be complete this year without giving nod to one of America's most beloved and celebrated composers, Leonard Bernstein.

San Antonio Symphony's Associate Concertmaster Sarah Silver Manzke, and internationally esteemed violist Rita Porfiris, will be our guest artists.

For complete information, visit http://www.solichamberensemble.com/#!traces/

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Kevin Puts's Pulitzer Prize-winning Opera, Silent Night, Will Be Performed by Nine Different Companies in 2018-19
Kevin Puts's Silent Night, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music with libretto by Mark Campbell, will be performed throughout the 2018-19 concert season by multiple ensembles in commemoration of the centennial of the signing of the armistice of WWI.

The opera has already been performed throughout July and August at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, and eight other leading opera companies across three different countries are scheduled to perform Silent Night in the coming year. A new orchestral suite, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and co-commissioned by the Indianapolis and St. Louis Symphonies, will be premiered in October of 2018 and performed again in May of 2019.

Commissioned by Minnesota Opera with co-producer Opera Philadelphia, Silent Night premiered in 2011 and received widespread critical acclaim throughout its original run. The opera is based on the true story of momentary, holiday peace on Christmas Eve between Scottish, French, and German soldiers, and includes songs in English, German, French, Italian, and Latin.

For more information, visit http://silentnightopera.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Violinist Jennifer Koh Comes Home Sept. 15
Music Institute alumna and Glen Ellyn native brings a solo violin concert program to Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, September 15.

Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for commanding performances delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. An adventurous musician, she collaborates with artists from multiple disciplines and curates projects that find connections between music of all eras from traditional to contemporary. She has premiered more than 60 works written especially for her and has made 11 recordings for the Cedille Records label.

Her concert program for the Music Institute includes repertoire from two recent initiatives: "Shared Madness," a project comprising short works for solo violin that explore virtuosity in the 21st century, written by more than 30 of today's most celebrated composers, and "Bach and Beyond," a recital series that traces the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach's Six Sonatas and Partitas to 20th and 21st century composers. Koh is Musical America's 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant. For more information and her complete biography, visit jenniferkoh.com.

Jennifer Koh performs two solo works by Bach juxtaposed with a contemporary piece for solo violin on Saturday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL.
Tickets are available at 847-448-8328 or musicinst.org/nichols-concert-hall.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

SF Girls Chorus Announces Partnership with Tokyo Gamine
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) today announced, as part of its 40th Anniversary, 2018-2019 Concert Season, an innovative new partnership with leading San Francisco fashion impresario Yuka Uehara and her company, Tokyo Gamine.

Under this new partnership, Uehara will dress SFGC's GRAMMY Award-winning Premier Ensemble for all concerts and touring projects. With her trailblazing work as a fashion designer, visual artist, and young female entrepreneur, Ms. Uehara will feature prominently throughout SFGC's season.

For more information, visit tokyogamine.net and sfgirlschorus.org

--Brenden Guy PR

Nimrod Borenstein, Six Premieres to the End of the Year
Composer Nimrod Borenstein measures his year in premieres - six to go before the end of 2018! Six premieres will bring first performances of Borenstein's music to five countries and four continents during the coming months

Each year seems to be busier these days for Nimrod Borenstein, the London-based composer. Already this year has seen projects with El Sistema Greece and Carnegie Hall, a US tour, a world premiere with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and multiple performances across Europe. And the rest of 2018 shows no sign of slowing down.

Between now and the end of the year, Borenstein will oversee six premieres of his music. The performances will range from a Kaddish for solo violin and a piano quartet in the US; to a tour of Israel with the symphonic The Big Bang and Creation Of The Universe; to a piano quintet at the Schiermonnikoog International Chamber Music Festival (in the Netherlands); to a work for the Kugoni Trio in Belgium; to a Piano Etude in Japan.

For complete information, visit http://www.borensteinarts.com/Nimrod_Borenstein_Performances.php

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Other Minds Announces 25th Anniversary Season
Other Minds and Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian have announced the lineup for their 25th anniversary 2018-2019 season, including two unique programs and a three-concert festival.

Now in its 25th year, Other Minds continues its dedication to shining a light on contemporary and experimental music with a season that includes an evening dedicated to the piano works of Terry Riley featuring Grammy Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng and the composer; rare performances of Shostakovich arrangements for two pianos including the West Coast Premiere of his Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms featuring frequent duo collaborators Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa; and two co-presented programs at Berkeley's David Brower Center that explore the music of composers Linda Bouchard and Anne Guthrie as part of the center's series "The Nature of Music."

Single tickets range in price from $35 to $45 with discounted $15 student tickets.

Single tickets for December and June performances will go on sale September 17 and March 2019, respectively, and will be available for purchase online at http://www.ybca.org.

Single tickets for February and March performances will go on sale November 1 and will be available for purchase through http://www.brownpapertickets.com.

Single tickets for the Nature of Music Series range in price from $12 to $15 and are available online through http://www.eventbrite.com.

For further information on Other Minds, please visit www.otherminds.org.

--Brenden Guy PR

New Artistic Leadership at Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & School
Grammy and Juno-Award winner and internationally acclaimed conductor, composer, and pianist Bramwell Tovey joins the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School effective immediately as Artistic Advisor. Described as the model of a modern orchestral maestro, Tovey's prolific career has earned him distinction on the stage, and in the classroom and community. He creates exceptional concert experiences, commissions and composes music for and of his community, and believes orchestras have a responsibility for providing and encouraging access to music education of the highest quality. Tovey is a true champion of connecting orchestras and the communities they serve.

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 (CD review)

Maurizio Pollini, piano; Claudio Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. DG 447 041-2.

Admittedly, I still warmly welcome any new recording by pianist Maurizio Pollini. In fact, I suppose it is a testament to my age that I continue to think of him of a "young" pianist, having first heard him only some fifty years ago. His interpretations may not always have the sparkle of those from some of today's new talents, but they always seem right. This 1998 release of the Brahms First Piano Concerto is no exception. 

Pollini makes the dark, massive, craggy opening movement seem all the more ominous by his aggressive forward momentum and sometimes fierce attack. By comparison, Emil Gilels, my comparison because it's also on DG, is more relaxed and warmhearted. I suspect that although Gilels is the easier to listen to, it may be Pollini who is closer to the spirit of Brahms. In the second movement Adagio, however, I must favor Gilels's more congenial approach. Pollini seems just a tad distant in this section, even if the aristocratic central melody demands such treatment. The finale, the Rondo: Allegro non troppo, finds Pollini at his best, amply displaying the varied changes of temperament Brahms indicates and sounding more relentless than Gilels ever does.

Maurizio Pollini
DG's sound is not much different than that which they produced for Gilels/Jochum over a quarter of a century earlier: It's big and warm, and it's without the definition EMI or even Philips provided for Stephen Kovacevich or Decca provided for Clifford Curzon. Now, here's the clincher for me: DG recorded Pollini live. While there is hardly a trace of audience noise anywhere, we do find the piano rather forward, spoiling the illusion of being there.

So, all of this avoids the question: Is Pollini a first choice in this repertoire? Bottom line: No, not for me. If one already owns any of the above-named recordings, should Pollini displace them? No, I don't think so. Each interpretation bears its own mark, and Pollini's version certainly bears the stamp of nobility and authority. But for my own taste, the more idiosyncratic approach of Clifford Curzon continues to be the disc I play the most often for personal enjoyment. And don't forget that DG offer both of the Brahms concertos with Gilels in a mid-price "Originals" double package, which is pretty hard to pass up.

Also, be aware that the folks at DG make this concerto available from the same performers in a double-disc set with the Second Concerto. And that Pollini has recorded the Brahms concertos with several other conductors over the years, like Karl Bohm and, more recently, Christian Thielemann, all for DG. Choices, choices.

JJP

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


Mathieu: Concerto No. 3 in C minor (CD review)

Also, Gershwin: An American in Paris. Alain Lefevre, piano; Joann Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Analekta AN2 9299.

Let's start with a little info about Andre Mathieu, a classical composer and pianist who isn't exactly a household name. First, he was born in Quebec, Canada in 1929 and died unexpectedly young of alcoholism and emotional problems in 1968. Fortunately for us, he left behind a large legacy of music, although most of it remains unrecorded. A check of Amazon reveals only a handful of Mathieu recordings, many of them by the artist represented on this disc, pianist Alain Lefevre. He and conductor Joann Falletta and her Buffalo Philharmonic do a splendid job with the music.

According to Wikipedia, "Mathieu's style leaned towards the late Romantic school of Rachmaninov, and his music was influenced by Debussy as well. Mathieu wrote many works for piano." Here, we find his Concerto No. 3 in C minor for piano and orchestra, which he wrote in 1943 under the titles "Concerto Romantique" or "Concerto de Québec."

The concerto, revised and reorchestrated, is highly reminiscent of Rachmaninov from the very beginning. Dark, almost ominous chords open the music, building to a big, rhapsodic flourish, again evocative of Rachmaninov. So, why didn't Mathieu become anywhere near as popular as his Russian counterpart? I've always thought the popularity of any piece of music with the general public is directly equivalent to how melodious it is and how much exposure it gets. With Mathieu, there is the business of its being somewhat derivative, not as soaringly tuneful, and not as well promoted. Which takes nothing away from Mathieu.

Alain Lefevre
The opening movement is rather scattershot to my ear. It's all over the place with one melody bumping into the next, something perhaps attributable to Mathieu being only in his mid teens when he wrote it. It's a passionate, tempestuous affair, and pianist Lefevre seems to take delight in its impetuous nature. As expected, Ms. Falletta and her Buffalo players support him superbly.

The highlight of the concerto is the second-movement Andante, serene and flowing, if not quite reaching the emotional heights of a Rachmaninov. Still, it's a lovely contribution to the piece, seamlessly interwoven with the faster movements and unaffected in its beauty. In the closing movement, Lefevre and Falletta deliver a jaunty presentation, filled with youthful zeal and playfulness.

Accompanying the Mathieu is a far more-familiar work, George Gershwin's An American in Paris, the jazz-inspired piece the composer wrote in 1928 after spending some time in Paris. In the work's original program notes, Gershwin says "My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere." When the music moves into blues, Gershwin tells us "our American friend...has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness." However, "nostalgia is not a fatal disease" and the American visitor "once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life" and by the end "the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant."

Here, Ms. Falletta and her orchestra take it alone, and they make the most of Gershwin's colorful tone painting. She lends the music a properly joyful, frolicsome atmosphere, combined with an equally appropriate dose of blues when necessary. It's lyrical, jazzy, bluesy, turbulent, and glittering by turns.

Dr. Bernd Gottinger made the recordings live at the Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY in February 2017. The sound he obtained is reasonably natural: warm, modestly reverberant, slightly soft, dark, and distant. The piano appears nicely integrated with the orchestra, too; in fact, it remains an almost neutral presence--clear, rich, and resonant, but never completely dominant as it might be if recorded closer. Again, the sound is fairly lifelike, if not as tonally transparent as the best audiophile recordings, accounting perhaps for its being recorded live. I wish they had deleted the applause at the end of the pieces, though.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, September 8, 2018

The Angel's Share Presents Gregg Kallor's Frankenstein and The Tell-Tale Heart

The Angel's Share, a new concert series by Unison Media and The Green-Wood Historic Fund, which features opera and chamber music concerts in Green-Wood's remarkable Catacombs, will close its first season October 10-12 with an operatic double bill from composer and pianist Gregg Kallor, including the world premiere of his setting of sketches from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (celebrating the 200th anniversary of the book's publication) – the heartbreaking story of a living, feeling creature, brought into the world only to be forsaken by his creator and left to fend for himself – as well as a reprise of his acclaimed setting of Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Tell-Tale Heart.

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano will perform the monodrama, The Tell-Tale Heart, as well as the role of Elizabeth Frankenstein, baritone Joshua Jeremiah will sing The Monster, and tenor Brian Cheney will sing Dr. Frankenstein. Sarah Meyers will direct both pieces, and Kallor will lead from piano, accompanied by Joshua Roman on cello.

Kallor will also release a new recording of The Tell-Tale Heart and other songs on October 5, with soprano Melody Moore and Joshua Roman on cello, to coincide with the performances.

Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Wednesday, October 10, Thursday, October 11, and Friday, October 12
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

For more information, visit https://www.deathofclassical.com/angelshare

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Foundation to Assist Young Musicians: Newsletter, September 2018
It is very exciting to begin the 2018/2019 school year. We had student/parent orientation
meetings at the Pearson Center and at the East Las Vegas Community Center. There were 99 online registrations and 46  paper registrations. This does not include students who will be in the orchestras or mariachi. I had received communications from several parents that their student's school open house was scheduled for the same day and time so several returning students will probably show up on the first days of classes.

It was my pleasure to welcome back many returning students and to meet new (beginning) students. Mr. Thomas, Mr. Weller, and I met with teachers on August 23 to discuss and plan instruction for this year. We had a few staff changes and additions so it was critical that we all start out with a clear understanding of our goals and instructional methods

I am filled with enthusiasm at what I have seen thus far and am looking forward to the 2018/2019 year!

For complete information about the Foundation to Assist Young Musicians, visit http://thefaym.org/

--Arturo Ochoa, President, FAYM

The Crypt Sessions Presents ROCO, October 18
Unison Media's acclaimed concert series The Crypt Sessions continues its third season on October 18, with the NYC chamber music debut of Houston's ROCO, an ensemble that flexes in size from 1 to 40 players based on the type of performance, whether it be as a brass quintet in a brewery, a theatrical version of Peter and the Wolf in a zoo, or as a 40-piece chamber orchestra in a concert hall.

ROCO has premiered over 75 commissions from living American composers, and for their Crypt Sessions, an ensemble of five musicians will perform a program made up of New York premieres of works by Reena Esmail, Alyssa Morris, Erberk Eryilmaz, Kevin Lau, and Heather Schmidt, as well as Anthony DiLorenzo's Anthem of Hope: Houston Strong, a piece commissioned in response to the city's resilience in the face of Hurricane Harvey's devastation.

One of the most forward-thinking groups in America, ROCO will be presenting a female composer, soloist, and/or conductor on every concert during their 2018-19 season. The group's groundbreaking ROCOrooters initiative offers childcare during concerts, with children receiving a music lesson, pizza, and a movie, while parents enjoy the concert and dinner. They have pioneered live-streaming their concerts, and were the first to incorporate live program notes for performances via a smartphone app.

The Crypt Sessions Presents: ROCO, October 18, 2018.
Wine & Food Tasting: 7PM. Show 8PM.
Tickets: $80, including Wine Tasting & hors-d'oeuvres.

For complete information and tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-crypt-sessions-roco-october-18-tickets-49110389497

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Sparks & Wiry Cries Announces the First-Ever SongSLAM Festival
On January 17-20th, 2019, the New York-based global art song platform Sparks & Wiry Cries will present their first-ever songSLAM Festival, a reimagination of the organization's popular songSLAM events held in New York and around the world presenting new art song by composer, pianist and vocalist teams. Sparks & Wiry Cries will also co-produce songSLAMs in seven cities in the US, Canada and Europe throughout the 2018-19 season.

Sparks & Wiry Cries founders Erika Switzer and Martha Guth aim to actively engage current conversations through contemporary art song with insightful publishing, programming, and commissioning initiatives. The Sparks & Wiry Cries songSLAM – which gets its name from the Poetry Slam concept – is an innovative competition featuring performances of 10-12 art song premieres by emerging composer/performer teams. Audiences will vote for their favorite new work and winners receive cash prizes.

Sparks & Wiry Cries also announces regional songSLAMs to be co-hosted throughout the 2018-19 season with art song organizations in seven cities and three different countries, resulting in almost 100 world premieres.  Cities include: Ann Arbor, Chicago, Denver, Ljubljana (Slovenia), Minneapolis, New York City, and Toronto (Canada).  "Sparks & Wiry Cries is an essential voice in sharing the beauty and relevance of this genre of concert music," says Eapen Leubner, Founder of Denver Art Song Project. "They have been an ally and partner to organizations like my own and their work inspires us to keep moving, keep innovating and keep singing."

January 17-20, 2019, 8:00pm
Dimenna Center for Classical Music, Cary Hall
450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018

For more information, visit https://www.sparksandwirycries.org/events/2019/1/17/songslam-festival-nyc

--Rebecca Davis PR

Peter Sellars Directed Production of Lagrime di San Pietro to Tour Worldwide
A performance at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois on September 13 will be the first date in the Los Angeles Master Chorale's wide-reaching tour of its acclaimed production of Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter) directed by Peter Sellars. The tour will feature 21 Master Chorale singers conducted by Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, and Jenny Wong, Associate Conductor.

Following the Ravinia Festival, the Master Chorale and Gershon will make a stop at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on September 15 before the group embarks overseas with dates at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia on October 5 and 6 conducted by Associate Conductor Jenny Wong. The tour will then travel to Mexico for performances at the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato on October 11 followed by a performance at the historic Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City on October 13.

The production will then return to California with two performances at The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on October 20 and 21. The tour continues in 2019 with January performances for UMS at the University of Michigan (Jan 20) and Carolina Performing Arts at Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Jan 22). Spring will see a performance in Berkeley presented by Cal Performances (May 17) before three European engagements at The Barbican Centre in London (May 23), Sage Gateshead in Gateshead, England (May 25), and the Cité de la Musique in Paris (May 27). Upon its return to the U.S., the Master Chorale will take the production to the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico (May 31).

For more information, visit http://lamasterchorale.org/los-angeles-master-chorale.php

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

Cantus Explores What it Means to Connect in the Modern World
This season, the acclaimed men's vocal ensemble Cantus presents "Alone Together," a program featuring a new commission by Libby Larsen exploring the struggle to build meaningful connections in a world that has never been more connected. Cantus will perform this program on tour in 2018-19 in three dozen cities throughout North America. The ensemble will also present their innovative take on an age-old Christmas tradition, called "Lessons and Carols for Our Time," during the Holiday season. Additionally, the ensemble will collaborate with the women's vocal ensemble Lorelei in a one-night-only performance event at the Ordway in St. Paul Minnesota to be broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio.

For more information, visit https://www.cantussings.org/

--Rebecca Davis PR

Cendrillon on "Great Performances at the Met"
Laurent Pelly's imaginative production brings Massenet's operatic take on the classic fairy tale Cinderella to life. Bertrand de Billy conducts. Ailyn Pérez hosts.

New videos are available from "Great Performances at the Met: Cendrillon," starring Joyce DiDonato as the titular heroine and Alice Coote as Prince Charming alongside Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Godmother and Stephanie Blythe as Madame de la Haltière. The season 12 finale airs Sunday, September 9 at 12:00 p.m. on PBS.

Joyce DiDonato talks about Laurent Pelly's production: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-cendrillon-joyce-didonato-laurent-pellys-production/8767/

Joyce DiDonato talks about Cinderella: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-cendrillon-cinderella-story/8762/

Trailer:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-cendrillon/8759/
YouTube Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ejikMV8e2w

--Doreen Rose Pugh, WNET

Soprano Camille Ortiz Brings Her Strength and Compassion to PBO Season Opener
Just a year ago guest artist soprano Camille Ortiz was still basking in the seemingly endless accolades from her Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra debut in Rameau's Le Temple de la Gloire. But on September 20, Hurricane Maria hit her home country of Puerto Rico, where Camille grew up and studied at the Puerto Rico Conservatory. While Camille now lives in Florida and performs throughout the world, most of her family still resides in Puerto Rico.

"Mom and I were just starting to recover from Hurricane Irma in Florida and then Maria wreaks havoc in Puerto Rico. My father, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins...I heard nothing for four full days and it was the longest four days ever. Finally, I got a phone message from my aunt and she said they were safe. My heart broke when I learned what everyone was going through," says Camille.

During the aftermath, Camille participated in several concerts in both Naples and Miami to raise funds for hurricane victims of both Maria and Irma. "Many musicians came together to raise funds. I had some really wonderful colleagues who also contributed financially directly to my family and to disaster relief funds on the island. Through the worst of times, I felt lots of love and support."

Nearly a year later, Camille's family is doing well. "I was able to visit this last April. It was a very special trip for me, seeing my family AND the island for the first time after the hurricane. Slowly things are becoming green again."

As hope steadily returns to her home island, Camille Ortiz prepares to bring her talent, compassion, and strength of character to the stage when she returns for PBO's season opener, Mozart Magnified. You will not want to miss her passionate performances of Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate with PBO this October.

For more information, visit https://philharmonia.org/2018-2019-season/mozart-magnified/

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

WinterMezzo Tickets on Sale Now
Festival Mozaic's internationally-renowned artists present chamber music concerts in spectacular venues on the California Central Coast in the fall and winter. This season, Music Director Scott Yoo and friends presents two weekends of great works of chamber music and offers three sequential ways to connect to the music and the musicians. We encourage you to attend all events in each weekend, and experience the special connections to the composers, the musicians, and this beautiful place.

Tickets for our 2018-2019 WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series are on sale now. Call our office at (805) 781-3009 or buy tickets online at http://www.festivalmozaic.com/wintermezzo-2018-19.

--Festival Mosaic

JACK Quartet Announces Its 2018-19 Season
The JACK Quartet is excited to announce their 2018–19 concert season, taking them to 27 cities in 9 countries across 2 continents, performing numerous world premieres from a diverse selection of composers. The new music ensemble will continue to grow their presence in the UK and Europe with their debut at the Berlin Philharmonie, a return to Wigmore Hall in the UK, and concerts in Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The rest of the season will be in North America with performances in Canada, Mexico, and across the United States, including 9 educational residencies.

With world premieres by Cristina García Islas, Michel Roth, John Zorn, Miya Masaoka, Richard Karpen, Juan Pampin, and dozens of student composers, the JACK Quartet is set to feature a diverse body of new work. Performances will include works by Zosha Di Castri, Sabrina Schroeder, Liza Lim, Marcos Balter, and Andreia Pinto Correia, along with a special focus on the works of John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey, Chaya Czernowin, and the complete quartets of Elliott Carter.

The season started September 8 and runs through May 14-19, 2019. For complete information, visit http://jackquartet.com/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Young People's Chorus of New York City Celebrates 30th Anniversary With "YPC Big Sing"
Founded on a mission of diversity, artistic excellence, and education, the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) reaches its landmark 30th anniversary on Saturday, September 22, and in celebration the chorus presents its first-ever "YPC Big Sing," in which YPC choristers invite audience members to sing along with them at Symphony Space at 3:00 p.m. in appreciation of the community's many years of support.

Tickets are priced $15 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under (children 2 and under may attend for free if seated on laps), with all proceeds going towards YPC's commissioning programs, which contribute to the education of young people and the future of music. Tickets will be available at the Symphony Space box office and online from symphonyspace.org.

--Shuman Associates PR

Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (CD review)

John Eliot Gardiner, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. DG 289 459 156 2.

There is certainly no dearth of good Mendelssohn Fourth Symphonies around, what with Abbado (DG and Decca), Blomstedt (Decca), Klemperer (EMI), Munch (RCA and JVC), Sinopoli (DG), Previn (EMI), Bernstein (Sony), and many others. But John Eliot Gardiner's disc comes with a new twist: He gives us not only the familiar original version but the revised version as well.

Apparently, German composer, pianist, conductor, and organist Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was a compulsive tinkerer and reviser, saying to a friend, "In everything I have written down there is at least as much deleted as there is allowed to stand." A year or two after the premiere of his Fourth Symphony, he reworked the last three movements. He never got around to the first movement--he said he would have to redo everything about it--nor did he ever publish his revisions. In any event, in the Gardiner disc we now have both versions, and upon close inspection there is a myriad of detail changes in those last three movements, the most obvious on this recording being a clarifying of the orchestration to provide greater transparency of sound. 

John Eliot Gardiner
Gardiner directs the Vienna Philharmonic with verve and bounce, reminding us of his period-instrument, historically informed background, yet he imparts a characteristic grace and smoothness, too. And, needless to say, the Vienna players respond splendidly, proving once again why the VPO is among the world's greatest orchestras. The results are infectious, and the performance deserves to stand alongside the best in the catalogue.

The sound of this 1999 release, however, is another story, somewhat overwrought, too warmly reverberant to convey fully the lighter spirits of the work. In this regard, I prefer Claudio Abbado's early Decca recording best of all, especially as remastered by HDTT. In any case, those who would buy the Gardiner recording probably would do so because they like the man's work or because they want to compare Mendelssohn's two versions of the symphony.

Accompanying the Fourth Symphony is Mendelssohn's Fifth, actually the second in order of composition. It is a common companion to the Fourth on disc, and one can find both of them on Abbado's DG disc at a slightly lower cost. If the sound of the Gardiner were more transparent, I would not hesitate to recommend it as a personal first choice. As it stands, it is a fine curiosity and a worthy adjunct to other favored recordings.

JJP

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


Motherland: David Aaron Carpenter (CD review)

Music of Dvorak, Bartok, Shor, and Walton. David Aaron Carpenter, viola; Vladimir Jurowski, Kazushi Ono, David Parry, London Philharmonic Orchestra. Warner Classics 0190295697693 (2-disc set).

David Aaron Carpenter is a relatively young (b. 1986) American violist who has been making a name for himself as a concert soloist these last few years. He began studying the violin when he was six and the viola when he was eleven, attending the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, Italy's Accademia Chigiana, Switzerland's International Music Academy, and the Verbier Festival Academy, studying with Pinchas Zukerman, Roberto Diaz, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Mann, Nobuko Imai, Boris Belkin, and Yuri Bashmet. By 2003 he was performing with leading orchestras and conductors throughout the world, and in 2006 he was the first Prize Winner of the Walter W. Naumburg Viola Competition.

"Motherland" is Carpenter's sixth major album and his second for Warner Classics. It's a combination of the old and the new, the familiar and the more unfamiliar. The first disc of this two-disc set begins with the old, Dvorak's Cello Concerto, although even that is somewhat new in that Carpenter plays it in an arrangement for viola. Next is Bartok's Concerto for Viola, followed by something a bit newer, Alexey Shor's Seascapes. Disc two gives us Walton's Concerto for Viola, followed by two more works by Shor. The pieces provide a healthy, varied, and attractive program.

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) wrote his Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 late in life, between 1894-95, his last concerto work. Yet even that is slightly different since Carpenter performs it as arranged for viola by J. Vieland and Carpenter, with accompaniment by Maestro Kazushi Ono and the London Philharmonic. Aside from the novelty of hearing the cello part played by a viola (which takes a moment or two to get used to because you don't get as sonorous or mellow a sound), the performance appears good but not extraordinary. It's well prepared and well executed, but I found it a trifle routine. And in the slow movement the viola doesn't quite convey the kind of melancholy a cello can impart. Still, the combination of Carpenter's enthusiasm, the viola's vibrant, youthful tone, and the excellence of the orchestra make it worth one's time.

David Aaron Carpenter
Next, we get the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Sz.120 by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok (1881-1945). Like the Dvorak, the Bartok piece was among the last things the composer wrote. But even this piece is slightly different because Bartok never actually finished it himself, the completion done by Bartok's student, Tibor Serly, in 1949, several years after the composer's death. Maestro Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic accompany Carpenter in the music, which comes off nicely. Carpenter seems in his element here, especially in the instrumental virtuosity he's able to pull off so effortlessly. (That finale with its energetic Hungarian themes is a gymnastic tour de force, with Jurowski and his players keeping up well.)

Disc one ends with a short piece in four parts called Seascapes by Ukrainian-born composer Alexey Shor (b. 1970), who now resides in the U.S. Here, Maestro David Parry and the London Philharmonic accompany Carpenter. Although it may be a modern work, it doesn't sound like one. It's filled with dancing melodies and lively, mostly cheerful tunes. Carpenter's treatment of it makes for a delightful listen.

Disc two contains only three works, one by English composer Sir William Walton (1902-1983) and two more by Alexey Shor. The Walton piece is his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, written in 1929. The Shor pieces are the brief Two Songs for My Children and the lengthy Well Tempered Chanson. Jurowski leads the London Phil accompanying the Walton piece, and Parry again conducts the orchestra in the Shor works. As on disc one, Carpenter displays a command of the music as well as of the viola. The musical lines are always clear and clean, as well as the performer's conviction.

Overall, I'm not sure Carpenter shows us anything new, but it's good to know there are accomplished musicians ready to assume the mantle of an older generation.

Producer Andrew Walton and engineer Deborah Spanton recorded the music at Saint Augustine's, Kilburn and Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London, England in 2017. As with many of the recordings made in Lyndhurst Hall, especially, the sense of orchestral depth is quite good, adding to the overall realism of the sound. There are also good dynamics and a moderately wide frequency response. Transparency is more than adequate, and the extremes of bass and treble seem reasonably well extended. In other words, we have fairly lifelike sound, making the set a pleasure to listen to.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, September 1, 2018

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents a Pair of October 2018 Performances

The 2018-19 season at Concerts at Saint Thomas will begin with a major dedicatory event centered around the inauguration of the church's new Miller-Scott Organ. After over ten years of planning, this magnificent organ will be debuted by Saint Thomas's current Organist and Director of Music, Daniel Hyde, in a special solo recital on October 5th officially dedicating the instrument to the church's former music director, John Scott. A virtuosic program has been planned with the intent of showcasing the instrument's full sonic capabilities ranging from soft string voices to the iconic "blazing Saint Thomas sound."

On October 18th, Benjamin Sheen plays the organ for its first concert with the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, and its orchestral debut with the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

October 5, 2018: Friday at 7:00 PM
The Irene D. and William R. Miller Chancel Organ in Memory of John Scott Dedication Recital
Grand Organ Series I, Daniel Hyde, organ
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC
(Tickets required)

October 18, 2018: Thursday at 7:30 PM
Parry, Janacek, Bernstein, Poulenc and Barber
The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys and Orchestra of St. Luke's
Benjamin Sheen, organ; Sara Cutler, harp; Hyesang Park, soprano; Daniel Hyde, conductor
Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue at West 53rd Street, NYC
(Tickets required)

Tickets may be purchased at www.saintthomaschurch.org, 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).

Video of the The Miller-Scott Organ, Saint Thomas Church:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56v_wz35mcI&feature=youtu.be

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

International Contemporary Ensemble Announces Fall 2018 Concerts
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) announces their fall 2018 season and the appointment of Executive Director Rebecca Sigel.

Engagements this autumn include residencies at Depauw University, University of North Texas, Cornell University, and University of Michigan; a concert at the 2018 Resonant Bodies Festival at Roulette Intermedium; performances of Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen's In Plain Air at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia, part of the Philly Fringe Festival; the New York premiere performances of Missy Mazzoli's opera Proving Up at Miller Theatre; the politically themed program, the national anthems, with The Crossing at Peak Performances; a performance with Hidejiro Honjo at the Japan Society; a concert at the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; 100 for 100: Musical Decades of Freedom with the Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne and Polish Cultural Institute New York at Roulette; a Miller Theatre Composer Portrait of Du Yun; and a return to Constellation in Chicago.

For more specific information about the upcoming season, visit https://www.iceorg.org/

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Czech Star Violinist Pavel Sporcl Receives "Torch-Bearer Award" in NYC
The award is given to people who outstandingly serve their cities, communities, and countries; Sporcl is a rare musician recipient for a prize that often focuses on sports rather than arts.

Superstar Czech violinist Pavel Sporcl is in New York to receive a special prize for his work bringing society together through music. The prize, called the "Torch-Bearer Award," was presented outside the United Nations building this past weekend by the Sri Chimnoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, a nonprofit institute whose other activities include an international run in which a torch is passed from person to person to encourage people to express their hopes and dreams for a better world. The award "honours those people whose who have inspired and served their nations, their cities and their communities." It was presented in front of fellow luminaries and UN national delegates.

Previous winners of the award include Olympian athlete Carl Lewis, European Council President Herman van Rompuy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and Archibishop Desmond Tutu amongst many others.

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

Five Boroughs Music Festival Presents Violin and Guitar Duo
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) opens its 2018-19 season with a performance by duo Fire & Grace, featuring guitarist William Coulter and violinist Edwin Huizinga. Fire & Grace's programs explore the connective musical elements of classical, folk, and contemporary traditions from around the world, showcased through the duo's own arrangements. Concerts are held on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at An Beal Bocht Café in Riverdale in collaboration with ClassicalCafé, with additional performances on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3 in Manhattan, and on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at Alice Austen House in Staten Island.

Additional 5BMF performances in the 2018-19 season include An Empire of Silver & Gold: Music of 18th Century Latin America, an exploration of 18th century vocal and instrumental pieces from Latin American manuscript sources on November 5; the return of baroque virtuosi, Les Délices, in a new program entitled "Songs Without Words" on February 23 & 24; the award-winning all female Aizuri Quartet on March 22; a collaboration with pianist Martin Katz and the Brooklyn Art Song Society in "Hugo Wolf: The Complete Mörike-Lieder" on April 28, May 3 and 4; and concludes with two special programs celebrating LGBT composers and librettists in collaboration with the New York Festival of Song and the LGBT Community Center ("The Center") on June 11 and 25.

For more information, visit http://5bmf.org/

--Will Albach, Morahan Arts and Media

Musica Viva NY Presents "Songs of Love" Benefit Concert
Musica Viva NY kicks off its 2018-19 season with "Songs of Love," an evening of lieder by Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and P.D.Q. Bach, on Sunday, September 23 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church. The concert features soprano Devony Smith, mezzo-soprano Michèle Eaton, tenor Nathan Siler, and baritone Brian Mextorf, accompanied by Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Trent Johnson.

There will be a pre-concert talk at 4pm at All Souls Church, open to all, given by Professor Peter Schickele. Admission is free, with a suggested donation at the door to support Musica Viva NY's artistic programming.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva NY shares the transcendent power of choral and instrumental music with audiences in New York City and beyond, through its annual four-concert series. The Musica Viva NY choir of thirty professionals and highly skilled volunteers performs broad repertoire, including new compositions and classic masterworks, emphasizing artistic excellence and transformative interpretations.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva NY's 2018-19 season include End of the War to End All Wars on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at All Souls Church, commemorating the end of World War I; Musica Viva NY Presents the Aeolus Quartet on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at Bohemian National Hall; "Bernstein at 100" on Sunday, March 10, 2019 celebrating Bernstein's centennial; and Homage on Sunday, May 19, 2019 spotlighting composers paying tribute to the past masters who inspired them.

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

--Will Albach, Morahan Arts and Media

Wang Piano Duo To Conclude 30th Chicago Duo Piano Festival
The Music Institute of Chicago's Chicago Duo Piano Festival (CDPF) concludes its 30th anniversary season with the celebrated Susan and Sarah Wang Piano Duo in concert Friday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

The concert program includes Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K448; Stravinsky's Concerto per Due Pianoforti Soli; Mendelssohn's Andante and Allegro Brillant, Op. 92; Sven Daigger's "su" for two pianos (2009); and Ravel's La Valse.

In addition, the duo will give a master class, free and open to the public, Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall.

Susan and Sarah Wang Piano Duo performs Friday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, Illinois.

Admission is $50 for VIP seating, $40 for adults, $25 for senior citizens, and $15 for students. Tickets are available musicinst.org/nichols-concert-hall or by calling 847.448.8328 or 800.838-3006 ext. 108. The master class is free. All programming is subject to change.

For more information, visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Mahler: Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection" (CD review)

Heidi Grant Murphy and Petra Lang, soloists; Andrew Litton, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Delos DE 3237 (2 CDs).

Mahler's Second Symphony "Resurrection" was his first really massive work, not only long but incorporating the talents of a large orchestra, soloists, and chorus. Such size became his eventual trademark, the quintessential "big, Mahler symphony." In order for any new recording to do it justice, the performance must stand up to at least two towering predecessors, those of Otto Klemperer and Sir Simon Rattle, both on EMI. Klemperer imparted a feeling of monumental grandeur to Man's triumph over death, while Rattle provided an even greater sense of spirituality in the process. Andrew Litton does not ascend these lofty peaks without the difficulty of comparison; he comes off second best.

For me, Litton is in trouble from the beginning. He takes the opening Allegro, a signature funeral march for Mahler, much too slowly. Certainly, a funeral dirge should be solemn, but it should never drag. This one dawdles along at what seems an interminable pace without much recourse to any punctuation of lines; there is little sense of drama or scope in the reading of this initial movement. Then things improve. Litton gives the three middle sections a more affecting treatment, never mind that the second segment, a Landler or slow waltz, as Mahler wrote it seems worlds apart from the rest of the work's symphonic content. The soloist performs well in the fourth movement, the famous "Urlicht" song from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The major letdown, however, is in the finale, which has nothing like the elation and exaltation it demands. Rather, Litton just seems to let the music fall as notes from a page; it's not lifeless but not exhilarating, either, in spite of a full chorus, soloists, and organ thundering behind the orchestra. 

Andrew Litton
Delos present the symphony with their Virtual Reality processing, whereby the music was originally recorded in multiple channels and mixed down into two for playback either on regular two-channel stereo equipment or in various multichannel formats like Dolby Pro Logic. I did not try it in surround mode as my multichannel home theater system is not really up to the musical standards of my separate stereo music system. I rather suspect, though, that some of the sound's thicker qualities in regular playback are due to its abundance of multiple resonances.

Anyway, Delos recorded the symphony live at the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall of the Morton H. Myerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas in September 1998. The sound they obtained is quite natural in frequency response and smooth in all extremes, but it lacks the overall clarity of the much older Klemperer disc I've mentioned. The chorus in the finale of the Delos, for example, sounds like a soft blur. Like many recordings of the Second, this one is spread out over two discs, with the first movement on disc one. (Klemperer is complete on one disc, another point in his favor.) But the turnover is not as inconvenient as one may think, considering that Mahler himself recommended a five-minute break at this point. Delos offer an unusually high number of tracking points within each movement, especially helpful in a work so long.

Surely, the peoplel at Delos were aiming for spectacle with their Virtual Reality recordings, and just as surely they achieved it. They have also offered some of their things on DVD, although I have not heard their fully discrete discs in the multichannel medium.

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