O Magnum Mysterium (CD review)

Robert Shaw, Robert Shaw Festival Singers and the Robert Chamber Singers. Telarc CD-80531.

Around the time of this 2000 release, Telarc began repackaging quite a lot of their older material and reissuing it under a new name. In the case of O Magnum Mysterium, recorded by the late Robert Shaw (1916-1999) and his singers between 1989 and 1997, the first four items had never been released before. My only regret about this otherwise splendidly sung collection of items for a cappella voice is that it lasts a scant fifty-six minutes. I recall years ago Telarc promising never to produce a disc that didn't have at least an hour of music on it. Oh, well, what we do have is plenty good enough.

The dozen pieces on the program represent the spiritual side of a number of composers from various eras and various parts of the world. It begins with a few selections by Renaissance composers, Thomas Tallis's (1505-1585) "If You Love Me" and "A New Commandment" and Tomas Luis de Victoria's (1549-1611) "O Vos omnes" and the first of three settings for the title number "O Magnum Mysterium."

Robert Shaw
These and most of the rest of the works on the album are sung by Robert Shaw's Festival Singers, the group he organized after his stint as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony ended and he could go back to what he appeared to love best, choral music. The Festival Singers are, of course, the reincarnation of his old Robert Shaw Chorale of the Fifties and Sixties. They do several twentieth-century pieces, Morten Lauridsen's setting of "O Magnum Mysterium," as well as Francis Poulenc's version, and Henryk Gorecki's "Totus Tuus." In between are excerpts from Rachmaninoff's "Vespers" and Schubert's "Der Entfernten," which, for male chorus, is especially exquisite. A smaller group, the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, do three American hymns: "Wondrous Love," "Amazing Grace," and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Moanin' Dove."

As always and as expected, the singing is immaculate, every syllable clearly articulated and cleanly rendered. Best of all, Telarc's sound is lucid without being bright or hard, rich without being soft or fuzzy, spacious without being overly reverberant or cavernous. This is a most enjoyable recording with much to recommend it, not least of all Shaw's eloquent direction of unaccompanied voices on a sometimes large scale.

JJP

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


2018 New Year's Concert (CD review)

Riccardo Muti, Vienna Philharmonic. Sony Classical 88985477002 (2-disc set).

Usually, I dislike albums recorded live. Too much noise, too much applause and shuffling of feet and rustling of programs, too much coughing and wheezing, too much breathing, and often too closely recorded. But with these yearly New Year's Concerts from the Vienna Philharmonic, the whole business of its being live is, in fact, the point. This year, we have Riccardo Muti back to conduct.

As I'm sure you are aware, the Vienna Philharmonic began its custom of offering a New Year's Concert in 1941, and it hasn't changed much since. EMI, RCA, DG, Decca, and now Sony are among the companies that have recorded the VPO's concerts over the stereo years, and in keeping with the orchestra's tradition of having no permanent conductor, they invite a different maestro to perform the New Year's duties each year. These conductors in recent times have included some of the biggest names in the business, including Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Willi Boskovsky, Claudio Abbado, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Georges Pretre, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Franz Welser-Most, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, and Gustavo Dudamel. Riccardo Muti had already conducted several New Year's Concerts (1993, 1997, 2000, 2004), so he was no stranger to the 2018 affair.

Maybe Riccardo Muti doesn't quite reach the same incandescence as a Boskovsky or Karajan in his Strauss material. However, he's been doing it long enough that he knows what it's all about. Muti fills 2018's program with mainly numbers from the Strausses (Josef, Johann I, and Johann II), with only a couple of things outside the family from Franz von Suppe ("Boccaccio Overture") and Alfons Czibulka ("Stephanie Gavotte"), both numbers new to the concert series. Otherwise, the selections comprise the familiar ("Myrtle Blossoms Waltz," "Tales from the Vienna Woods," "Roses from the South," etc.) and the maybe not as familiar ("Viennese Frescoes," "Maria Waltz," "Letter to the Editor Polka," etc.). And, needless to say, the program concludes with "The Blue Danube Waltz" and the "Radetzky March," the latter complete with requisite audience participation. Here's the complete lineup of tunes:

Disc 1:
  1. The Gypsy Baron March
  2. Viennese Frescoes Waltz
  3. Bridal Parade Polka
  4. Light of Heart Polka
  5. Maria Waltz
  6. Wilhelm Tell Galopp
  7. Boccaccio Overture
  8. Myrtle Blossoms Waltz
  9. Stephanie-Gavotte

Disc 2:
  1. Magic Bullets Polka
  2. Tales from the Vienna Woods
  3. Festival March
  4. Town and Country Polka
  5. A Masked Ball Quadrille
  6. Roses from the South Waltz
  7. Letter to the Editor Polka
  8. Thunder and Lightning Polka
  9. New Year's Address
10. The Blue Danube Waltz
11. Radetzky March

Riccardo Muti
Of course, there were high points for me: "Viennese Frescoes" sounds lovely after an extended introduction; the "Bridal Parade" Polka is bouncy without being brash or showy; Muti shows his flair for Viennese rhythms in the "Maria Waltz"; the "Myrtle Blossoms Waltz" is sweet and light; an always welcome "Tales from the Vienna Woods," is done up most delicately; and then there's a fragrant "Roses from the South Waltz"; a particularly well-nuanced "Blue Danube Waltz"; and a rousing close with the required "Radetzky March."

The only minor shortcoming I could find was the lack of track timings for any of the selections. It's nice to know how long things are, you know? That and the fact that I wish there were fewer polkas and marches and more waltzes are merely personal biases of mine.

Recording Producer Friedemann Engelbrecht and Balance Engineers Tobias Lehmann and Rene Moller recorded the music live for Teldex Studio Berlin at the Goldener Saal des Wiener Musikvereins on January 1, 2018. The same team has been doing the recording of New Year's concerts for the past half dozen or more years, so we know pretty much what to expect.

Although they recorded the music live, the sound isn't so close-up as to be disturbing, nor is it too very bright or forward. As before, it conveys a pleasant, ambient glow. It also displays a fairly strong dynamic range and impact, noticeable right from the outset. The sound is not the ultimate in audiophile realism, of course, and there's not a lot of depth or air to it, but it is smooth and comfortable. Expect as always, however, a good deal of applause after each number. That, people tell me, is part of the fun.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:


Classical Music News of the Week, February 24, 2018

Two Encore Performances of Groundbreaking Production of Lagrime di San Pietro

An additional encore performance of the Los Angeles Master Chorale's critically-acclaimed production of Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro ("Tears of St. Peter") directed by Peter Sellars will be presented in Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, March 17 at 8 PM. A performance on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 7 PM as part of the Master Chorale's Gala 2018 was previously announced. Single tickets to both performances are available 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.

The performances will be conducted by Grant Gershon, the Kiki and David Gindler Artistic Director, and feature 21 Master Chorale singers who perform the 75-minute, dramatically-staged work from memory. The Sunday night performance will be part of a gala evening honoring Los Angeles arts philanthropists Kiki and David Gindler for their leadership, and honoring Sellars for artistic vision.

Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietro ("Tears of St. Peter")
Grant Gershon, conductor
Peter Sellars, director

Saturday, March 17, 8 PM
ListenUp! pre-concert talk at 7 PM

Sunday, March 18, 7 PM – Gala performance
For information about Gala events & tickets visit lamasterchorale.org.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA

Tickets to all concerts are available now, starting from $20. Information and tickets are available by calling 213-972-4355 or at lamasterchorale.org.

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

Pinchas Zukerman Performs, Teaches, Receives Award
n May, the Music Institute of Chicago welcomes acclaimed violinist, violist, conductor, and educator Pinchas Zukerman to perform, conduct a master class, and receive the Music Institute's Dushkin Award at its 2018 Anniversary Gala.

Concluding the Music Institute's 2017–18 Faculty & Guest Artist Series, the Zukerman Trio—violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth, and pianist Angela Cheng—performs a concert May 20 at 3 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. The program features Beethoven's Piano Trio in B-flat, WoO 39 "Allegretto"; Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor; and Dvorák's Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 90 "Dumky." Officially launching in 2013, the Trio has performed in Japan, China, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Hungary, South Africa, Istanbul, and Russia, and throughout the United States.

For more information, visit musicinst.org

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen to be featured in New Year's Eve Concert
A special event titled "A Baroque New Year's Eve at the Opera" will be presented by American Bach Soloists (ABS) in San Francisco's beautiful Herbst Theatre — a cornerstone and jewel among the city's most prestigious venues — and will feature one of the opera world's exciting new vocal talents, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. The 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Young Artists Award Winner, former Merola Opera Program participant, 2018 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, and ABS Academy alumnus has been capturing the hearts of opera lovers around the world.

One Performance Only:
Monday December 31 2018 4:00 p.m. • Herbst Theater, San Francisco, CA
Tickets on sale in March 2018

For complete information, visit americanbach.org

--Jonathon Hampton, American Bach Soloists

Violinist Lisa Batiashvili Performs with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presents The Courage to Create on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7pm in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, featuring internationally-acclaimed Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili in her Orpheus debut. Batiashvili is highlighted in Prokofiev's elegant Second Violin Concerto, a work steeped in the crosscurrents between Russia and the West. The evening also includes the Entr'acte No. 1 to Schubert's Rosamunde, Prokofiev's Schubert Waltzes Suite arranged by Paul Chihara, and Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B Minor "Unfinished."

The program will first be performed on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 8pm at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College in Purchase, NY.

Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7pm
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Lisa Batiashvili, violin

Single tickets for the March 24 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 Web site at carnegiehall.org.

For more information about Orpheus, call 212.896.1700 or visit www.OrpheusNYC.org.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Violinist Tessa Lark Awarded Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship
The Borletti-Buitoni Trust announced today that violinist Tessa Lark is a recipient of the coveted Borletti-Buitoni 2018 Fellowship. Ms. Lark adds this recognition to her growing stack of impressive awards, which include an Avery Fisher Career Grant and medals at the Naumburg International Violin Competition and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

The BBT Fellowship puts Ms. Lark in the elite company of prior BBT recipients including Jonathan Biss, Martin Fröst, Sol Gabetta and Augustin Hadelich. Of the £20,000 award, Ms. Lark says, "I am so excited to receive this prestigious Fellowship and to be included among the list of incredible musicians who are part of the BBT family. The BBTrust is unique and extraordinary in its encouragement of creative individuality of its artists."

Tessa Lark is the only American among the 15 exceptional young musicians from around the world who join BBT's roster of Award and Fellowship winners in 2018. Awards of £30,000 and Fellowships of £20,000 are provided for the advancement of their musical careers across a broad range of projects and requirements. The BBT team offers generous support, networking opportunities, and counsel to help the artists realize their long-held ambitions.

--Classical Music Communications

Teatro Nuovo Announces Its Inaugural Bel Canto Festival
Teatro Nuovo, the new organization led by Will Crutchfield, is proud to announce its inaugural Bel Canto Festival, "The Dawn of Romantic Opera," at Purchase College, July 28-August 5 2018, in collaboration with The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY.

The Festival will present semi-staged productions of Rossini's Tancredi, Mayr's Medea in Corinto, two operas premiered in 1813; one by a mature master and the other by a budding genius, both pointing the way for opera's Romantic century. The Festival will also include a second version of the Rossini score, Tancredi rifatto, incorporating extensive music that the composer wrote for later revivals. Teatro Nuovo will also introduce a radical new adventure with early 19th-century performing style and period orchestral instruments.

Further information about Teatro Nuovo, the training program, and the organization's personnel and other plans can be found at www.teatronuovo.org.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Musica Viva NY Presents "Infinite Hope"
Musica Viva NY presents "Infinite Hope," commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s untimely death and celebrating his life and legacy.

Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 5:00 p.m., All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street), New York, NY 10075.

The concert features the Musica Viva NY Choir—led by Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and accompanied by the award-winning Aeolus Quartet and pianist Trent Johnson—in Alice Parker's A Sermon From the Mountain: Martin Luther King, which pays tribute to Dr. King, and is inspired by the Biblical verses frequently quoted by him and the spirituals which use these texts. Baritone James Dargan is spotlighted in Alice Parker's work, which includes narration by David Rockefeller, Jr. Additional featured soloists include soprano Devony Smith, alto Barbara Fusco, and tenor Shawn Bartels.

The program also features beloved spirituals including "Precious Lord," "Take My Hand," "Elijah Rock," and "There is a Balm in Gilead," arranged by Moses Hogan, William L. Dawson, and Arnold Sevier. The Aeolus Quartet performs Dvorák's String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, "American," which is interspersed with the spirituals.

Tickets, priced at $40, are available by visiting musicaviva.org/tickets or can be purchased at the door.

--Katlyn Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Young People's Chorus of NYC Celebrates 30th Anniversary
The Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez celebrate the chorus' 30th anniversary in its 2018 Annual Benefit Concert, to be held at Jazz at NYC's Lincoln Center on Monday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m.

This year's musical guests are Tony Award-winning, Broadway songwriting duo Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose works for the stage include Anastasia and Once On This Island; singer and actress Jenn Colella, currently starring in Broadway's Come From Away; singer/actor Jordan Donica, whose roles include Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the national tour of Hamilton; and classical baritone Lester Lynch, who has performed at Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, and with the San Francisco Opera, among other companies.

To purchase concert-only sponsorship tickets or to attend the entire benefit evening, visit ypc.org/gala-form-2018 or email ypcgala@ypc.org.

--Shuman Associates

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Announces 2018-19 Season
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale announces its 2018/19 season--"Transcendence." In its 38th year, PBO will continue to take its signature brand of historically-informed performance to the next level with its subscription season, alternative concert series PBO SESSIONS, Juilliard partnership and its national tour schedule.

Philharmonia's 2018/19 season promises an eclectic array of music and experiences, including sacred vocal works by Bach, Mozart, and Pärt, virtuosic concerti by Vivaldi and Clement, and Handel at his dramatic heights.

Single tickets for the 2018/19 Season will go on sale with City Box Office on August 1, 2018. Subscription details can be found online at philharmonia.org/subscribe.

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Concerts at Saint Thomas Presents Conductor Stephen Darlington and The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Concerts at Saint Thomas presents acclaimed conductor Stephen Darlington and The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, for an evening of British choral masterpieces at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, on April 6.

The choir will perform works by Handel, Purcell, Byrd (including his haunting Mass for Four Voices), and more as a part of Stephen Darlington's farewell tour after more than 40 years of association with Christ Church.

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (CD review)

Also, Berg: 7 Early Songs. Barbara Bonney, soprano; Riccardo Chailly, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Decca 289 466 720-2.

Do I need to remind you that the Fourth Symphony remains one of Mahler's most popular pieces, maybe the most popular? The first clue is that a new performance of it seems to appear almost every month. This one from Decca, produced in September 1999, is notable in two regards: It is exceptionally well recorded, and the Berg songs make a welcome coupling.

The booklet note justifies Riccardo Chailly's reading by saying it stays closer to Mahler's final intentions than other recordings. That may be, but the realization doesn't always satisfy. Chailly makes the first movement, which should be a sweet introduction to life's journey to the Hereafter, sound ominous and menacing, perhaps in anticipation of a scarier-than-usual "Friend Death" that appears later. Unfortunately, it robs the opening piece of much of its innocence. However, the Scherzo, which should definitely be creepy, "shiveringly spooky" in Mahler's own words, under Chailly sounds rather homespun.

Riccardo Chailly
Chailly keeps the long, slow third movement well in check, gliding gracefully, if somewhat statically, into the Finale. Barbara Bonney does the concluding "Wunderhorn" song in appropriately childlike fashion, but here, too, one misses the lofty magic expected. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra play as gloriously as ever, though, which should also count for something.

It's hard to do any real damage to a piece of music as lovely as this, but for me there are more evocative accounts under George Szell (HDTT or Sony), Bernard Haitink (Philips), Colin Davis (RCA), Otto Klemperer (EMI), Franz Welser-Most (EMI), Lorin Maazel (Sony), Claudio Abbado (DG), and others.

Nothing wrong with the sound Decca obtained for Chailly, however. The overall tone is well balanced, and there is a superbly realistic orchestral depth. Some highlighting of solo instruments mars the otherwise impeccable imaging. One can find almost no glossiness or hardness anywhere, which is a real plus. Among available discs, Chailly's is among the best sounding. It's just the interpretation you'll have to get used to.

JJP

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


Elgar: Violin Concerto (CD review)

Also, Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1. Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Andrew Litton, BBC Symphony Orchestra. Avie AV2375.

American violinist Rachel Barton Pine (b. 1974) began her recording career with the Dorian and Cedille labels in the mid 1990's, which is about where I first encountered her. She continued mostly with Cedille, with an occasional detour to Hannsler and Warner Classics before going to Avie Records in the last few years. Whatever the record company, she has continued to produce well poised and sweetly polished performances, with some of the best sound afforded a violinist. The present disc is no exception.

English composer Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was forever Elgar. His style is unmistakable, whether in his symphonies, his concertos, or his marches. The Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 is no exception, its opening notes sounding like much else of Elgar's in its aristocratic, ceremonial manner. But then it moves into a slightly melancholy subject that more suits Ms. Barton Pine's music making, a "rich" and "soulful" mood as she describes it. Certainly, rich and soulful are apt descriptors of Ms. Barton Pine's style.

Rachel Barton Pine
More important, I think, is that Barton Pine does little to take our attention away from the music itself. She is not an idiosyncratic performer in any way, and her interpretation, while exceptionally expressive, is not entirely out of the mainstream. What's more, Andrew Litton and the BBC Symphony accompany the soloist as though they had done this sort of thing before. I jest, of course, as they probably have done this sort of thing a hundred times. Incidentally, Sir Neville Marriner was to accompany her but passed away shortly before the time of the recording. In a booklet note, Ms. Barton Pine gives her thanks to him for helping her prepare for and better understand the work.

Anyway, there is much to enjoy in Ms. Barton Pine's recording, including the sensitive way she negotiates the ins and outs, the cogency and mournfulness of the first movement (or as some listeners have suggested, the masculine-feminine dialogue); the ethereal qualities of the central Andante; and the tumultuous poetry of the final movement. Hers is a strong, virtuosic account of a sometimes underrated piece of music. Given the quality of the performance and the sound, this may be the best recording of the Elgar in the catalogue.

Ms. Barton Pine pairs the Elgar with the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 by Max Bruch (1838-1920). This familiar concerto is a work that in many ways imitates, or at least pays tribute, to Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Bruch premiered a much revised version in 1867, and it soon became a staple of the violin repertoire. Bruch's lush, lofty, lilting melodies seem tailor-made for Ms. Barton Pine's elegantly honed technique so the whole thing comes off as movingly as anybody's.

Producer Andrew Keener and engineer Robert Winter recorded the music at BBC Maida Vale Studio No. 1, Delaware Road, London in January 2017. The sound is full and wide ranging, with the violin well centered, if a trifle close. The depth of image is fine, too, as are the frequency extremes and the dynamic impact. Moreover, there's a pleasant warmth attending the music, along with a touch of hall resonance and an overriding smoothness that compliment Ms. Barton Pine's playing.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, February 17, 2018

Violinist Paul Huang and Pianist Orion Weiss to Perform at Kennedy Center

Avery Fisher Career Grantees Paul Huang and Orion Weiss will give a recital at the Kennedy Center on April 27, presented by Washington Performing Arts. The program includes music by Brahms, Dvorák, and Prokofiev, and features a new work by pianist-composer Conrad Tao, with whom Huang attended both high school and Juilliard Pre-College. Tao performs in his own piano solo recital at the Kennedy Center on April 21, also presented by WPA.

Says Huang of the performance: "Washington D.C. holds a special place in my heart, as the place where I made my American recital debut at the Kennedy Center, and all of the pieces on this program are very dear to me. As a musician, I feel a deep commitment to exploring how music - whether it be contemporary or older repertoire - reflects the time and space in which it was created, and so I'm extremely excited to be able to highlight one of the most exciting and thought-provoking composers of my generation, Conrad Tao (we went to high school and Juilliard Pre-College together!). His new piece promises to offer the audience a special insight into how poetic and how romantic contemporary music can be in the best sense possible."

Antonín Dvorák: Sonatina in G major for violin and piano, Op. 100
Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80
Conrad Tao: New Work (title TBC)
Johannes Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in D minor for violin and piano, Op. 108

Friday, April 21, 7:30 PM

The Kennedy Center – Terrace Theater
2700 F St NW
Washington, DC 20566

For more information, visit http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/WSWAS

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

PBO SESSIONS with Richard Egarr March 7
Join renowned Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music and harpsichordist Richard Egarr as well as members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for PBO SESSIONS: "Corelli the Godfather: The Corleone of the Concerto" for an evening of concerto intrigue! The 90-minute deep-dive will shed light on what became the most important instrumental compositional technique still in use today. Arcangelo Corelli was prolific, wealthy, and powerful, and his legacy--- the concerto---lives on.

This exciting program includes works by Corelli and Handel and a few musical surprises, accompanied by riotous repartee with Richard. Afterwards, join us for complimentary wine and a chance to meet the musicians.

Tickets Regularly Priced at $25. But here's an offer you can't refuse: Buy one, get one free!
Order online, using promo code "Corelli" at
https://philharmoniabaroqueorchestra.secure.force.com/ticket/#sections_a0F0H00000ZpT1lUAF

--Marketing, Philharmonia Baroque

Inaugural Wadsworth Piano Competition Announces Semi-Finalists
The Charles Wadsworth Piano Competition (CWPC) today announces the eight semi-finalists chosen to compete in the inaugural competition held at The Donald W. Nixon Centre for the Visual and Performing Arts in Newnan, GA: Nadia Azzi (Colburn School, CA), Hilda Huang (Yale University, CT), Aristo Sham (Harvard University, MA), Zhiheng Guo (Manhattan School of Music, NY), Dominic Cheli (Colburn School, CA), Michael Davidman (Curtis Institute of Music, PA), Angie Zhang (The Juilliard School, NY), Peng Lin (The Juilliard School, NY).

Named after Newnan, Georgia native, pianist Charles Wadsworth, this competition honors Wadsworth's extensive legacy and contributions to the field of classical music, through his work as both the founding director of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, and former artistic director at the Spoleto USA Festival. The inaugural competition, dedicated to providing artistic and entrepreneurial growth opportunities for talented pianists aged 18 to 25 in early stages of career development, will take place from April 22 to 25, 2018.

For more information, visit http://www.thenixoncentre.net/piano-comp

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Los Angles Master Chorale 2018/19 Season Prominently Features L.A. Composers
Los Angeles composers feature prominently in the Los Angeles Master Chorale's 55th concert season announced today by Grant Gershon, Kiki and David Gindler Artistic Director, and Jean Davidson, President and CEO. The contemporary works include the world premiere of Eric Whitacre's The Sacred Veil and the West Coast premiere of Reena Esmail's This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity. All concerts will be performed in Walt Disney Concert Hall where the Master Chorale is choir-in-residence.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale's 2018/19 concert season, beginning in September 2018 and running through May 2019, also features Songs of Ascent by Shawn Kirchner and How to Go On by Dale Trumbore on subscription series programs alongside the Mozart and Duruflé Requiems respectively. Esmail's This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity is paired with Bach's Magnificat.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lamasterchorale.org.

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

Opera Maine Trustee and Supporter Dr. John Serrage to Receive a National Opera Trustee Recognition
Dr. John Serrage, a longtime Opera Maine trustee and supporter, has been selected by OPERA America to receive the 2018 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award. Opera Maine, formerly PORTopera, is one of 43 Budget Four opera companies in the United States that are members of OPERA America, and Dr. Serrage is the only honoree recognized in this category.  Chosen for his remarkable service and leadership, Dr. Serrage will receive his award at an event that is part of the annual National Opera Trustee Forum on Friday, February 23 in New York City.

"This is a much-deserved honor for Dr. Serrage who has done so much for the company from its beginning 24 years ago," said Opera Maine Board President Arlene Palmer Schwind.  "He was a founding supporter of Opera Maine in 1995, and he has remained committed ever since to the importance of the company's mission and its contribution to the vibrant arts scene in Northern New England. As a fervent believer that opera companies have a responsibility to provide training opportunities for young singers, Dr. Serrage cultivated and managed Opera Maine's Young Artist Program for many years. He has also set the tone for other trustees to follow in terms of his level of financial support and the elegant atmosphere and social milieu he has created around participation with the company."

For more information, visit operamaine.com.

--Kristen Levesque PR

Contralto Avery Amereau Joins ACO in Brahms, Ries, and Schubert at Lincoln Center
On Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 8pm, American Classical Orchestra, "the nation's premier orchestra dedicated to period instrument performance" (Vulture), closes out its 2017-2018 season with the return of celebrated contralto Avery Amereau in a program of bright light and visible darkness at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Amereau takes center stage with ACO Men's Chorus in a performance of Brahms's Alto Rhapsody, paired with Schubert's iconic Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished" and Gesang der Geister for male chorus and low strings. The program ends with a contrasting symphony by little-known composer Ferdinand Ries, a student of Beethoven in Bonn.

For this event, ACO is supporting the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) by offering a portion of concert ticket proceeds to benefit the organization. Of the collaboration, UNICEF Next Generation Steering Committee member Bryan Klipsch says, "UNICEF's mission is to help save and protect the world's most vulnerable children, and that's inclusive of bringing joy to their lives. Music brings joy to people and fills their hearts, and ACO does this in a magical way. We are touched by ACO's commitment to bringing joy to children and this opportunity for us to come together to bring joy to people's lives, even if for only one evening."

For more information, visit www.lincolncenter.org or www.aconyc.org.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

PBO Honors David Daniels at Winter Gala
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is pleased to announce its Annual Winter Gala on Friday, February 23, 2018. The evening will take place at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel and will honor acclaimed countertenor David Daniels. The celebratory Gala will recognize Daniels's extraordinary artistic contributions to the world of historically-informed vocal performance and opera as well as his role as an educator.

David Daniels made his professional debut with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale in 1995 and made history as the first countertenor to give a solo recital at Carnegie Hall. He has been named by Gramophone magazine as the one of the "Top Ten Trailblazers" in classical music today. He most recently appeared with Philharmonia in 2015 in a performance of Handel arias and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

The evening will unfold with a cocktail party and silent auction followed by a performance of Handel arias and other surprises led by PBO Music Director Nicholas McGegan and featuring countertenor David Daniels, members of the Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorale. The evening will also include a lively After Party with a full scotch tasting.

For more information or tickets for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale's Annual Winter Gala, please visit: https://philharmonia.org/support-us/annual-gala/

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

48th Anniversary Season: Music Without Borders
Music Without Borders
Mosaic Summer Music Festival
July 17-29, 2018
Sam Luis Obispo County, California

Music is the universal language. It can break down the barriers that exist between cultures, people, and even time periods. Composers throughout the ages have operated independently of borders - beginning with the composers of the baroque and classical period performing on tours of the royal courts of Europe. The composers and musicians featured in this summer's festival tackle questions of national identity, inclusion, and equity. How does music transcend borders like genre, national identity, gender, and technological divides? Join Festival Mosaic this summer to explore these timely questions in fun, festive and intimate performances in beautiful venues on the Central Coast.

For complete program information, visit https://www.flipsnack.com/797BB55C5A8/2018-summer-music-festival.html

For tickets, visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OKgw-f9COd03s8UGSF_oMeWaQf70ocUX/view

--Bettina Swigger, Festival Mosaic

5BMF Presents ICE and UpBeat NYC
Five Boroughs Music Festival (5BMF) presents South-Bronx music education non-profit UpBeat NYC and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 8:00 p.m., part of the Pregones Theater's "March is Music" week.

Under the auspices of the EntICE educational initiative, instrumentalists from ICE collaborate with youth musicians from UpBeat NYC's free, community programs for a concert of exciting new classical works. The first half of the program includes Georges Aperghis's Rasch for viola and soprano saxophone; Clara Ionnatta's Limun for violin, viola, and two page turners; Zach Sheets's from the Silhouette Quarry for violin and bassoon; and Pauline Oliveros's Thirteen Changes. The second half of the evening features the centerpiece of the program, the New York premiere of Nicole Mitchell's Inescapable Spiral (2016), performed by ICE and UpBeat NYC side-by-side. UpBeat NYC students will also present the premiere of a graphic score and older students will lead the ensemble in an improvised conducted soundpainting.

Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Pregones Theater | 571-575 Walton Avenue | Bronx, NY
Tickets: $15 - 50
Link: http://pregonesprtt.org/events/ice-upbeat-nyc-at-pregones-march-is-music-2018-series/

Please visit www.5bmf.org or email info@5bmf.org for more information.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

R. Strauss: Also sprach Zarathushtra (CD review)

Also, Rosenkavalier Suite; Don Juan. Lorin Maazel, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. RCA 09026-68225-2RE.

This disc is one of four RCA releases of orchestral works by German composer and conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949) conducted by the late Lorin Maazel. RCA recorded the discs between 1995 and 1998, and they have made them available as separate CD's or in a boxed set. Maazel presents the pieces in his usual straightforward manner, always letting the music speak for itself. In this regard he is in the company of Bernard Haitink and Rudolf Kempe (as opposed to Herbert von Karajan and Georg Solti, who impart more of their own personality to the interpretations). However, being in the company of someone is not to say they are equals. Haitink and Kempe seem to me more magisterial, more authoritative, more commanding. What's more, as fine as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra plays, they cannot quite match the glorious richness of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, or the Staatskapelle Dresden.

Anyway, I found the accompanying Rosenkavalier Suite most attractive of all and the Don Juan tone poem adequate, if slightly underpowered. Maazel's Zarathushtra, though, seemed a little wanting in animation. It appears to me that as Strauss was one of the last of the great Romantics, his works ought to be played with a bit more fervor. Still, if more foursquare playing is your bent, Maazel is your man.

Lorin Maazel
RCA recorded the sound at Herkulessaal Der Münchner Residenz, Munich, Germany in February 1995. They did so in Dolby Pro Logic, and the best one can say for it is that it doesn't interfere much with regular two-channel stereo playback. I did find my ears unaccountably plugging up on occasion, but I cannot attest to its being a result of anything in the playback.

By and large, the sound is wide and full, somewhat congested in loudest passages and spotlighted like mad. Instruments will suddenly loom up out of nowhere, which makes for a striking effect but is not too realistic. I suspect that as more and more people buy surround-sound systems, which is obviously the direction the industry has been heading for quite some time, we will see more and more recordings made expressly for the medium. Of course, most people are buying surround sound to enhance their movie-watching experience, not necessarily to listen to music. As a number of readers indicated to me some years ago, not many of them sit down in the sweet spot to listen only to music for longer than a few minutes. So I'm not sure what effect all of this will have on the future of audiophile recordings.

For those of us who still treasure good, old-fashioned two-channel stereo, however, there is more reason than ever to appreciate the bargain and mid-price reissues that most companies continue to produce. In the matter of Richard Strauss, for instance, one can find the composer's complete orchestral music available on three sets of discs from Rudoph Kempe (EMI), and in bits and pieces on discs from Fritz Reiner (RCA) and Bernard Haitink (Philips), none of which will set you back too many coins.

JJP

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


Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique" (CD review)

David Bernard, Park Avenue Chamber Symphony. Recursive Classics RC2059912.

The last time I listened to Maestro David Bernard and his merry band of semiprofessional musicians, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, they were engaged in the unlikely task of playing the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. They did a very good with it, too, if a little underpowered in the orchestral department, and I might say the same for this latest venture, their recording of the Tchaikovsky Sixth.

Anyway, you probably know about the Park Avenue ensemble. It includes mainly players who do other things for a living (like hedge-fund managers, philanthropists, CEO's, UN officials, and so on). They're not exactly amateurs, but they're not full-time, paid musicians, either. Fortunately, their playing dispels any lingering skepticism about the quality of their work; everyone involved with the orchestra deserves praise. Nor is the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony a particularly small group. It just isn't the size of a full symphony orchestra, and no matter how well they play (and they play well, indeed), you won't mistake them for the Concertgebouw Orchestra or the Berlin Philharmonic.

So, you probably also know that Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote his Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique" in the last year of his life, and it was his final composition before he died. The ensuing century brought it growing fame, and today one can hardly doubt its value as one of the late-Romantic period's most-popular works. The title "Pathetique" in Russian means "passionate" or "emotional," which is how most conductors play it--big, bold, and red-blooded. But Maestro Bernard has a different agenda in mind. The folks at Recursive Classics call it a "fresh look," and here's how Maestro Bernard describes it:

"The Pathetique's mythology can be a strong influence to see each and every phrase as an opportunity to express mournful longing. I don't find this especially helpful to the work, as repetitive rubato and excessively slow tempi dilute its intense narrative. And when considering the work as a whole, the 'suicide note' theory that is used as the basis for this thinking is somewhat questionable. The Pathetique's immense scale and relentless passion demands a life force in the composer that simply could not exist inside a person resigned to take his own life."

David Bernard
Instead, say Recursive Classics, "Bernard sees the Pathetique as Tchaikovsky's reimagining of his earlier works in a new-found artistic voice." Bernard says, "You hear Tchaikovsky reimagining his life's work through a more mature and effective lens." Therefore, is Bernard's vision of the symphony so different from all that have come before? Not really, but it's an interesting and largely effective vision, nonetheless.

The work begins with a fairly lengthy introduction, building in agitated fashion before culminating in the music's famous central theme. Maestro Bernard tells us the movement's narrative shape is "unmistakably linked to his 'Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.'" So Bernard's reading is one more of beauty and elegance than purely of tragedy, pathos, or suffering. Fair enough, although I didn't hear the grand sweep this music usually evokes. It's more subdued than that, perhaps odd given that I am more used to Bernard being so very energetic. Of course, he becomes more animated in the middle theme, although even here his relatively smaller forces don't make as much of an impact as most bigger ensembles do.

The second movement is another of the composer's famous waltzes, which Bernard says should glide "the listener from beginning to end." Certainly, the conductor accomplishes this with ease, the music flowing sweetly and gently along, if at a quicker pace than we sometimes hear.

The third movement is a zippy scherzo. And under Bernard's leadership, zip it does. Bernard says it "requires an unceasing energy that drives relentlessly to an ending that is as inevitable as it is exciting." Well, yeah. Still, I don't see that Bernard accomplishes this end any better than many other conductors. So we'll give him kudos for being at least as good as everyone else, and the last few minutes of the movement are as thrilling as they come.

The symphony ends in a mournful Finale. However, says Bernard again, this is no "suicide note." It's Tchaikovsky coming to terms with his own mortality. I'm not sure what that means, but this movement is certainly the high point of Maestro Bernard's realization of things. Here, the music appears neither tragic nor sorrowful, just longing, wistful, meditative. Although some listeners may miss more of the composer's power and emotion, the conductor makes up for it in feelings of contemplation and reflection.

The orchestras responds to Maestro Bernard's guidance admirably, and one would never know these players weren't all professional, full-time musicians. The ensemble's performance is commendably precise, the contrasts in softer and louder passages especially telling in their nuanced delivery. Still, is there any pressing need for a new Sixth Symphony in one's library? Personal taste, of course, and it is fun hearing the music done up in such clear, clean sound and in such a clean, clear interpretation. As always, try to listen before buying.

Audio engineers Joseph Patrych and Antonio Oliart recorded the symphony at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York City, in May 2017. As we might expect from an ensemble a bit smaller than a full symphony orchestra, the sound is fairly transparent, with good depth of field and a realistic stereo spread. Dynamic impact is strong, frequency response wide, and instrument separation lifelike. I liked the sound a lot.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, February 10, 2018

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Announces 2018-2019 Season

Now in its 46th year of innovative concerts in New York, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra announced programming for its 2018-19 season, driven by the concept of "Now Hear This," canonical repertoire "reimagined" in the context of here and now. Orpheus reimagines the past, present, and future of the chamber orchestra with three concerts presented in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall and two concerts presented by the 92nd Street Y.

Orpheus is joined this season by an illustrious group of international soloists including pianists Nobuyuki Tsujii and Javier Perianes and the Avi Avital and Ksenija Sidorova Duo at Carnegie Hall, as well as cellist Steven Isserlis and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani at 92nd Street Y. As part of Orpheus' ongoing American Notes commissioning initiative, two new pieces — Benjamin Wallfisch's Concerto for Mandolin and Accordion and a work by James Matheson — receive their world premieres next season.

Artistic Director James Wilson articulates, "I'm excited and proud to see Orpheus so dramatically expand its musical impact throughout our hometown of New York. It's a testament to the flexibility of our wonderful ensemble that in one season we can bring our acclaimed artistry and skill to the renowned Carnegie Hall, the innovative and creative stage at the 92nd Street Y, and the intimate showroom at Tarisio Fine Instruments & Bows. The inclusion of these venues has inspired us to stretch our wings musically and offer a season of impressive variety and excitement."

Orpheus kicks off its 2018-19 season on Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall with "Gentle Giants," featuring 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition-winning Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 21. The program also explores the spiritual ecstasy of Arvo Pärt's Fratres and the sensitive artistry of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11, arranged and reimagined for string orchestra by Christopher Theofanidis.

For complete programming information, visit http://orpheusnyc.org/

Subscriptions for the 2018-19 season are available at orpheusnyc.org or by calling (212) 896-1704 beginning January 22, 2018. Single tickets for Carnegie Hall concerts can be purchased at carnegiehall.org or by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, beginning mid-August. 92Y single tickets can be purchased at 92Y.org or by calling (212) 415-5500.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

March at 92Y
Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Inon Barnatan, piano

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 7:30 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Bach Odyssey V; Angela Hewitt, piano

 Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Brazilian Guitar Quartet - 20th anniversary concert

Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 3 PM
92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall, NYC
Bach Odyssey VI; Angela Hewitt, piano

For more information about 92nd Street Y, visit www.92y.org

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Saratoga Performing Arts Center Announces 2018 Classical Season
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC, Saratoga Springs, New York) will welcome home resident companies -- New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center -- and bring the National Ballet of Cuba for its first-ever Capital Region appearance in a vibrant, eclectic 2018 line-up that integrates great works of the classical repertoire with artist debuts and SPAC premieres.

For complete information, visit https://spac.org/

--Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light
A mini-series of two early music concerts celebrating the origins of the Scientific Revolution in Italy.

Concert I
Perpetual Motion: Galileo and his Revolutions
Music of Caccini, Cavalli, Monteverdi, and Purcell
The Galileo's Daughters Ensemble
Sunday, March 4th 4:00pm
The Bernie Wohl Center Theater
647 Columbus Avenue, NYC

Concert II
I Viaggi di Caravaggio: Voyages in Musical Chiaroscuro
Music of Ferrari, Kapsberger, Laurencini, Mazzocchi, Merula, Rigatti, & Sances
Jessica Gould, soprano & Diego Cantalupi, theorbo
Wednesday, March 7th, 8:00PM
The Fabbri Library of the House of the Redeemer
7 East 95th Street, NYC

For more information, visit http://www.salonsanctuary.org/201782112018season.html

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Free Stream of AOP's Harriet Tubman Opera
"When I first contacted American Opera Projects in 2010, I was already an orchestral composer, and was working on what would become my first opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom. The opera tells the actual story of the American icon through a mosaic of African-American musical styles including gospel, jazz, ragtime, spirituals, call and response, and juba dance.

AOP worked with me to develop Harriet Tubman over the next three years, workshopping excerpts to gain audience feedback and then premiering the full production. Since the AOP premiere, they have helped me develop two more operas as well as helping me promote Harriet Tubman to other companies.

Eight years later, I'm thrilled to still be part of the AOP family that supports my music, and also the music of countless other composers over its 30-year history. As you enjoy the stream of Harriet Tubman in February, I hope you will support AOP in its mission to bring more groundbreaking operas to light."

Celebrate Black History Month!
Nkeiru Okoye, composer

To watch the opera, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXhVfF25_XU&list=PLjbmxRatK2iMKxHcZLfyFulNtt4b_MGRZ

--American Opera Projects

Richard Egarr Leads Jam Session with PBO
Acclaimed scholar, conductor and virtuoso keyboardist Richard Egarr from the UK's Academy of Ancient Music joins forces with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale in March to lead the Orchestra through a self-conceived program of concerti grossi by composers Corelli and Handel while taking a turn on the organ.

PBO's March program, titled by Egarr "Corelli the Godfather," has Egarr leading from the organ in a program featuring concerti grossi with PBO musicians taking turns in the spotlight. Egarr will illuminate the influence that Corelli had on Handel who studied and stole from Corelli over his lifetime.

Thursday March 8, 8 pm
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Friday March 9, 7:30 pm
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA (at capacity)

Saturday March 10, 8 pm
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday March 11, 4 pm
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Tickets range from $28 to $125 and are available at City Box Office 415-392-4400 or at cityboxoffice.com.

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

Call for Scores
PARMA Recordings is on the march again in 2018 and now accepting score submissions for:
Music for string quartet with the Altius Quartet in Boulder CO, USA
Guitar and cello concerti with the Zagreb Philharmonic and Croatian Chamber Orchestra in Zagreb, Croatia
Music for choir with Vox Futura in Boston MA, USA

Selected scores will be recorded and commercially released by PARMA. Submitter is responsible for securing funds associated with the production and retains all ownership of the master and underlying composition.

If selected, submissions will be considered for live performance. There is no cost associated with this. Scores from previous calls will receive performances this year in Poland, Russia, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic, the United States, and more.

Submit scores here: http://www.parmarecordings.com/contact-us.html#projsubform

For complete information, visit http://parmarecordings.com/

--PARMA Recordings

March 2018 at the Green Music Center: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Ralph Nader, and More
Sonoma State University's Green Music Center continues its 2017–18 season with a variety of performances in both the stunning 1,400-seat Weill Hall and the intimate 240-seat Schroeder Hall.

The month of March begins with the gifted violinist Anee-Sopie Mutter (March 2). Several days later, the programming switches gears when Weill Hall welcomes Ralph Nader (March 5) as part of the H. Andrea Neves and Barton Evans Social Justice Lecture Series. Bringing the art of Taiko all the way from Japan, the Yamato Drummer come to the Green Music Center (March 16). Musical virtuosos Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner present the third set in their "Bridge to Beethoven" series, featuring works by Beethoven and Andrew Norman (March 17).  The first Schroeder Hall show of the month features an afternoon of music performed by the exceptional Stanford University organist Robert Huw Morgan (March 18).

Later in the month, the Green Music Center presents the Israeli Chamber Project (March 24), an ensemble celebrating their 10th anniversary this season. Acclaimed pianist Charles Richar-Hamelin will take to Schroder Hall's stage (March 25). To end the month, Musician from the Valley of the Moon Music Festival will perform their second installation with "Benvenue Fortepiano Trio – The Little Orchestra" (March 31).

Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E Cotati, Rohnert Park, CA

Tickets are available. Call 1.866.955.6040 or visit gmc.sonoma.edu.

--Kathryn Stewart, Green Music Center

Bravo! Vail 2018 Season Announcement
The Bravo! Vail Music Festival (Vail, Colorado) announces its 31st season, runing from June 21 to August 2, 2018. This season features new and exciting debuts, first-time collaborations and unexpected performances, innovative and thought-provoking programming, concerts that showcase the orchestral power of four internationally-renowned ensembles, free concerts that further solidify the Festival's ongoing commitment to its community and music education, and the welcome return of many of today's leading artists. Bravo! Vail's 31st season hosts a wide-array of highlights, including:

The return of longtime resident ensembles the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic as well as the third-annual residency of the London-based chamber orchestra the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, led by violinist and Music Director Joshua Bell.

A new and exciting collaboration with the Asphalt Orchestra with surprise performances in and around Vail and on the Bravo! Vail After Dark series.

The world premiere of a timely and provocative musical commentary by Gabriella Smith commissioned by Bravo! Vail, featuring a collaboration between the dynamic vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and the Dover String Quartet. Presentations of Pulitzer Prize-winning works by David Lang and Caroline Shaw that speak to the innovative nature of this season's programming.

Both of Ravel's piano concertos are presented this season, his Piano Concerto in G with pianist Hélène Grimaud and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand performed by the New York Philharmonic featuring pianist Louis Lortie in his Bravo! Vail Debut.

A celebration of Leonard Bernstein in honor of his centennial by the New York Philharmonic, showcasing his Chichester Psalms.

The debuts of several exciting guest artists, including the young prize-winning accordion player Hanzhi Wang.

A super-charged program with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra shining a passionate spotlight on Tango with soprano Camille Zamora, award-winning Argentinian dancers Patricio Touceda and Eva Lucero, and bandoneón player Hector Del Curto.

The Festival will also offer 25 free concerts offered throughout the season, including two programs that feature a new collaboration with Magic Circle Mime Company. And much, much more....

For more information about Bravo! Vail, visit bravovail.org or call 970.827.5700.

To purchase tickets, email ticketing@bravovail.org, buy online at bravovail.org, or call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.

--Amanda Sweet, BuckleSweet Media

Honegger: Pacific 231 (CD review)

Also, Symphony No. 2; Mouvement Symphonique Nos. 2 and 3; et al. David Zinman, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich. Decca 455 352-2.

This disc brings together some of the best-known orchestral works of Swiss composer Arthur Honegger (1892–1955), and conductor David Zinman and the Decca Record Company provide them with some of the best interpretations and best sound the music has ever enjoyed. Honegger was one of those modernists of the first half of the twentieth century who nonetheless clung to the last vestiges of Romanticism. We get visions both of emotional power and impressionism.

His three famous Mouvements symphonique are here, with its most-popular movement, "Pacific 231." Honegger openly admitted to naming it after a particular type of locomotive, yet he denied it was a point-for-point musical rendering of the big engine, insisting instead that it was "...the impression of a mathematical acceleration of rhythm, while the movement itself slowed." Be that as it may, it has since taken on a life of its own as a highly programmatic tone poem. Zinman gets it going enthusiastically.

David Zinman
The Second Mouvement symphonique is subtitled "Rugby" and provides an image of the cadences and colors of a rugby match. The Third Mouvement symphonique has no subtitle at all and, consequently, said Honegger, was overlooked by the public and critics. Apparently, people tend to pay more attention to works with colorful or descriptive titles ("Eroica," "Military," "Surprise," "Jupiter," "Resurrection") than those without. Whatever, Zinman again gives the music plenty of life and color.

In addition to the Mouvements, there are Honegger's ambitious Symphony No. 2, his Monopartia, and his lovely and atmospheric little Pastorale d'ete. As always, Zinman approaches them with respectful energy, much in the way he approached his performances of the Beethoven symphonies on Arte Nova a few years earlier.

Decca's sound, recorded in 1996 at Zurich's Tonhalle, Switzerland is a tad bright, hard, and edgy at the top end, but it's hardly anything to complain about and is otherwise nicely detailed, with a realistic sense of bloom and dimension. It's no doubt the best sound I've found in Honegger, even though I haven't heard everything. I'm sure listeners will not be displeased by what they hear.

In all, it's a fine Honegger recording, challenging those by Karajan, Dutoit, Ansermet, and others.

JJP

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


Anne Akiko Meyers: Fantasia (CD review)

Music of Rautavaara, Szymanowski, and Ravel. Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; Kristjan Jarvi, Philharmonia Orchestra. Avie Records 2385.

Ever since I first heard violinist Anne Akiko Meyers some twenty years ago (as she was a child prodigy, she was already an established musician by that time), I sensed something special. Her playing radiated a sweet, gentle quality that was extremely calming and reassuring. With this album, Fantasia, she performs music that seems tailor-made for her, in the case of Rautavaara work, literally. And Maestro Kristjan Jarvi and London's Philharmonia Orchestra accompany her with the utmost in ravishing, sympathetic support. The album makes a winning combination.

The first selection on the program is called Fantasia, written on a commission from Ms. Meyers by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016). It was Rautavaara's last completed score, done the year before his death. As this was the music's first recording and he wrote it for Ms. Meyers, we will have to accept it as authoritative; not that I think anyone could do any better with it. It's a sweet, tuneful, Romantically inflected work, reminiscent to me of Ralph Vaughan Williams's "The Lark Ascending." As usual, Ms. Meyers plays with exactly the right touch and nuance to do justice to the score's enchanting beauty.

The second selection is the Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 by Polish composer and pianist Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937). He wrote it in 1916, right at the start of the modern era of classical music, and it shows, eschewing some but not all of the Romantic overtones of the concertos coming before it and displaying a good deal of French impressionism as well. What's more, and despite its sometimes going against the grain of the age, it remains one of Szymanowski's most-popular pieces.

Anne Akiko Meyers
The opening passage of the concerto reflects its delicacy, conjuring up poetic images of the line that inspired it: "fireflies kiss the wild rose." It's a lovely piece of music, with evidence of Debussy and Ravel, making it the perfect vehicle to display Ms. Meyers's intricate and expressive technique. I also hear hints of the exoticism of Rimsky-Korsakov in the second and third movements, too, and the charming lilt and dance of Mendelssohn. To say Ms. Meyers does the music justice is an understatement.

The final piece on the program is probably the most well known: "Tzigane" by French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), a work Ravel premiered in 1924. Like Rautavaara's Fantasia, "Tzigane" is a brief, rhapsodic piece, although, as "Tzigane" means "gypsy," the latter has a more gypsy-like character to it. Ms. Meyers captures the mood of the piece, although she doesn't impress with it quite as much as she does in the preceding works, perhaps because the Ravel music is more commonly recorded. Repetition kind of dulls one's appreciation for a new rendering; however, rest assured that Ms. Meyers does it as well as anyone. Ravel, after all, meant the score as a virtuosic showpiece, and Ms. Meyers plays it in her own sensitively virtuosic style.

Producer Anne Akiko Meyers and engineer Silas Brown recorded the music at London Air Studios in May 2016. The sound is most realistic, especially in the placement of the violin just slightly in front of the orchestra but not in our face. This soloist-orchestral integration is further enhanced by the mildly pleasant ambience of the studio setting, which just slightly reflects some reverberant bloom. The frequency response is neutral, the dynamics more than adequate for the occasion, and the instrumental detailing about what one would expect to hear from a tenth-row center seat in a real concert hall. It's all quite pleasant.

JJP

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


Classical Music News of the Week, February 3, 2018

Pacific Symphony Announces First-Ever Tour to China, May 9-15, 2018

Pacific Symphony today announced the details of its first-ever tour to China and first international tour since the Symphony toured European capitals in 2006. The five-city tour launches May 9, 2018 with a concert at the Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre, followed by performances in Hefei (capital of Anhui province), Wuxi (Jiangsu province), Chongqing (a major city in southwest China) and Beijing. The final concert takes place at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, colloquially known as "The Giant Egg" due to its distinctive dome-shaped, titanium and glass architecture.

The Symphony's tour will include works by Leonard Bernstein in celebration of his centennial, as well as Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, Suite No. 2; Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky (arranged by Ravel); and Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3, featuring soloist Pinchas Zukerman. The visit to China follows another important tour this season to New York City for the Orchestra's Carnegie Hall debut on April 21, 2018.

"We are gratified to represent Southern California on this highly anticipated tour," says Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair. "This is an artistic milestone for the orchestra and I couldn't be more pleased to be leading this exceptional group of musicians on its first tour to China. This is an artistically significant opportunity for Pacific Symphony to embrace cultural diplomacy and to carry the message of music's universality across the ocean to the other side of the Pacific Rim. The halls we will be playing have all been built within the last ten years. Some of the world's leading architects have created contemporary temples of music with stunning acoustics that will beautifully showcase the fine playing of our musicians."

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

-- Lisa Jaehnig, Shuman Associates

ICE Performs Ann Cleare Composer Portrait Led by Steven Schick
On Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 8pm, the innovative artist collective International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns to Miller Theatre for a Composer Portrait celebrating young Irish composer Ann Cleare. ICE musicians perform some of Cleare's most striking works in an ensemble led by Steven Schick, including the square of yellow light that is your window, inspired by fellow Irish artist Oscar Wilde; Dorchadas for bass flute, bass clarinet, bassoon, trombone, percussion, piano, and strings; the U.S. premiere of to another of that other for trumpet, trombone, clarinet and orchestra; and the world premiere of teeth of light, tongue of waves for voice, bassoon, viola, cello, bass, co-commissioned by ICE and Miller Theatre.

Ann Cleare is an Irish composer working in the areas of concert music, opera, extended sonic environments, and hybrid instrumental design. Her work explores the static and sculptural nature of sound, probing the extremities of timbre, texture, colour, and form. She creates highly psychological and corporeal sonic spaces that encourage a listener to contemplate the complexity of the lives we exist within, exploring poetries of communication, transformation, and perception.

Ann Cleare Composer Portrait
Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 8pm
Miller Theatre | 2960 Broadway | New York, NY
Tickets: $20-30
Link: http://www.millertheatre.com/events/ann-cleare

--Katy Morahan, Morahan Arts and Media

Composer Thea Musgrave to Celebrate Her 90th birthday with a Concert in NYC
One of Britain's most distinguished composers, Thea Musgrave celebrates her incredibly prolific seventy-year career with a 90th birthday concert on May 27 at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City. A pioneer of the "dramatic-abstract" in the contemporary musical landscape, Musgrave's oeuvre is comprised of more than 160 pieces, including 13 operas, 11 choral works, and 21 orchestral works.

For her birthday concert, Musgrave will be joined by Dr. Harold Rosenbaum and The New York Virtuoso Singers for an evening of choral music, solo music, and excerpts from Musgrave's grand operas.

For information, visit http://www.theamusgrave.com/
For tickets, visit https://cvi.yapsody.com/event/index/105776/thea-musgraves

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Founation to Assist Young Musicians Newsletter
Two students admitted into Mariachi Estrellas De FAYM.

One of the additions for 2017 was the creation of a FAYM Mariachi which we named 'Mariachi Estrellas De FAYM.' In late September, we scheduled auditions for students in group 2 or above. Students that did not pass the audition were invited to come to audit the classes.

Spring 2018 Calendar:
Spring Recital
Saturday, March 10
3pm to 5:30pm
East LV Community Center
Las Vegas, NV

Year-End Recital
Saturday, May 12th
3pm to 5:30pm
East LV Community Center
Las Vegas, NV

For more information about FAYM, visit http://thefaym.org/

--FAYM

Three Gertrude Stein Plays in the Shape of an Opera
SIX.TWENTY.OUTRAGEOUS: Three Gertrude Stein plays in the shape of an opera.

World premiere presented by Symphony Space Fuse Project in partnership with American Opera Projects.

When an oddball couple, their sassy housekeeper, a sewing machine, and a deranged radio all start singing, Gertrude Stein's playful language is transformed into the ecstatic and uncannily beautiful new opera from composer Daniel Thomas Davis, librettist Adam Frank, and director-designer Doug Fitch. From a shopping expedition that turns into an erotic adventure to a presidential election party that goes prophetically and horribly wrong, Stein's genius for upending convention is made startlingly relevant to our own cultural and political moment.

Ariadne Greif, soprano
Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo
Andrew Fuchs, tenor, with the Momenta String Quartet and Dimitri Dover, pianist
Musical Director: David Bloom

February 9-10, 7:30 PM
February 11, 2:00 PM
Symphony Space, Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre
2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York, NY 10025-6990

Tickets:
Standard $30 and up, Members $26 and up
30 & Under with ID $20 and up

For more information, visit https://www.symphonyspace.org/event/9797/Music/daniel-thomas-davis-isix-twenty-outrageous-i

--American Opera Projects

Duo Piano Mini-fest Next in CDPF's 30th Season
The 30th anniversary season of the Music Institute of Chicago's Chicago Duo Piano Festival (CDPF) continues with the Chicago Duo Piano Winter Mini-fest, featuring master classes, coachings, lectures, student recitals, and performances March 2–4 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

Mini-fest concerts, open to the general public, feature the next installment in the Duo Piano Dialogues series, "Exploring Claude Debussy." Duo Piano Dialogues, a series of performances with commentary by CDPF piano duo in residence Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, spotlights the unique repertoire for two pianists at one and two pianos. Marking the centenary of Debussy's death, Aebersold and Neiweem present a program, which takes place Friday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., dedicated to the composer's music for piano duo, including his own arrangement of La Mer for piano, four hands.

A "Faculty Extravaganza" concert showcasing the talented Music Institute faculty includes Xiaomin Liang and Jue He, Sung Hoon Mo and Inah Chiu, Mio Isoda and Matthew Hagle, and Irene Faliks and Maya Brodotskaya performing music by Schoenfield, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and Gershwin. The concert takes place Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.

The Chicago Duo Piano Festival's Winter Mini-fest concerts take place Friday, March 2 (Duo Piano Dialogues: "Exploring Claude Debussy") and Saturday, March 3 (Faculty Extravaganza) at 7:30 p.m.
at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Illinois.

Tickets for each concert are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students.
Duo Piano Dialogues tickets are available at musicinst.org/duo-piano-dialogues

Faculty Extravaganza concert tickets are available at musicinst.org/cdpf-winter-mini-fest, or for either concert, call 800-838-3006.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Fifty Pianists Chosen as Quarterfinalists for 2018 Honens International Piano Competition
Fifty concert pianists from 22 countries have been chosen to perform in the Quarterfinals of Canada's 2018 Honens International Piano Competition. The Screening Jury evaluated more than 100 candidate applications based on proposed Competition programming, experience relative to age, and letters of reference.

The Quarterfinals/International Audition Rounds take place in Berlin (March 11 to 13—Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler) and New York (March 19 to 21—Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center). Each pianist performs a 40-minute self-programmed solo recital and is interviewed by an arts journalist.

"I have been involved with Honens since 2000, and not only was I very impressed by both the quantity and quality of the young pianists who applied this year, but also with their understanding of Honens' value of the 'Complete Artist.' It was a real challenge for the jury to reduce the field to 50 quarterfinalists," commented Eric Friesen, Chair, Screening Jury.

The 50 Quarterfinals performances are recorded on video for review by the First Jury, made up of both pianists and arts professionals: Winston Choi (2003 Honens Laureate, Head of Piano, Chicago College of the Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, United States), Isolde Lagacé (General and Artistic Director, Arte Musica Foundation, Canada), Eduardo Monteiro, (Pianist, Vice Director & Professor of Piano, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), and Pedja Muzijevic (Pianist, Artistic Administrator, Baryshnikov Arts Center, United States). The First Jury evaluates the performances during deliberations at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in April. Ten pianists will be chosen to advance to the Semifinals in Calgary. Semifinalists will be announced on May 28, 2018.

For complete information, visit http://www.honens.com/competition/2018-piano-competition/

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

The Crypt Sessions Presents Violinist Lara St. John
Season 3 of Unison Media's acclaimed concert series The Crypt Sessions continues on March 14 & 15, with violinist Lara St. John and pianist Matt Herskowitz performing their haunting, heralded program Lavuta: Violin Beyond the Pale.

The music incorporates folk melodies from Eastern Europe and the Jewish Diaspora, re-imagined by contemporary composers like Serouj Kradjian, Milica Paranosic, John Kameel Farah, and more. Lara recorded the program for her much-vaunted album Shiksa.

Due to rapid sell-outs and long waiting lists, each new concert will be announced immediately after the one preceding it, first to the mailing list, then via The Crypt Sessions website (http://deathofclassical.com/) and Facebook page.

All Crypt Sessions are held in the Crypt Chapel under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, NY.
Each Crypt Session will feature a pre-concert reception included in the ticket price, with a tasting of food and wine that is paired to the themes and moods of that evening's music, prepared by Ward 8 Events.

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Deep River - The Musical Impact of African American Spirituals
Turning spirituals into art songs and transforming American music, PostClassical Ensemble observes the legacy of Dvorák protégé Harry Burleigh. The program features the National Cathedral Choir, led by conductor Angel Gil-Ordoñez, and charts the journey of African American spirituals into the concert hall.

February 28th at 7:30 p.m., Washington National Cathedral.

Harry Burleigh (1866-1949) is a forgotten hero of American music, though undoubtedly one of the most significant African American musicians of his generation. Assistant to the prolific composer Antonín Dvorák, Burleigh was the composer/singer most responsible for turning African American spirituals into art songs—transforming American music and musical palates in the process.

The creative team behind PostClassical Ensemble, conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz, pay tribute to Burleigh's immense cultural influence with Deep River: The Art of the Spiritual, marking their second engagement as ensemble in residence at the Washington National Cathedral, on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Inspired by Burleigh's most famous arrangement of the same name, Deep River pairs multimedia elements with live performance to chart the history of African American spirituals in classical music, while illustrating Burleigh and Dvorák's influence on one another. Tickets and information are available at www.postclassical.com.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018; 7:30 p.m.
Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Tickets: $25-$65 (special student ticket pricing also available)

--Mike Fila, BuckleSweet Media

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