Classical Music News of the Week, March 24, 2018

Bach Week Festival for 2018

The Bach Week Festival has announced its 45th annual program of concerts in Evanston, Illinois, April 27 and 29 and Chicago, IL May 4, featuring new twists on presenting music by the event's namesake, German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

"Each season, we go 'Bach' to the drawing board to keep the festival fresh while remaining true to our mission," says Richard Webster, Bach Week's long-time music director and conductor. Webster performed in and helped organize Evanston's inaugural Bach Week in 1974 and has been music director since 1975.

The 45th annual concert series will feature the world premiere of Marcos Balter's new Bach-inspired work for solo cello, pianist Sergei Babayan in a Bach concerto and solo works, and the festival's first performance of Bach's Cantata 191.

Single-admission tickets to each of the three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 seniors, $10 students. Subscriptions to the main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. All tickets for the April 27 Candlelight Concert are $20. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone, (800) 838-3006. For general festival information, phone 847-269-9050 or email

For complete information, visit

--Nathan J. Silverman Company

West Edge Opera Announces 2018 Summer Festival
West Edge Opera announces its 2018 summer festival venue, casting and program, which includes Debussy's Pélleas and Mélisande, Luca Francesconi's Quartett, and Matt Marks's Mata Hari. The artists include soprano Heather Buck, baritones Hadleigh Adams and Efrain Solis, actress Tina Mitchell, directors Elkhanah Pulitzer, Keturah Stickan and Paul Peers, conductors John Kennedy, Jonathan Khuner and Emily Senturia.

The West Edge Festival 2018 opens August 4 and closes August 19. This year's venue is The Craneway Conference Center, a former Ford assembly plant on the Richmond, CA waterfront. Series tickets go on sale April 1 with a significant reduction in the price of general admission tickets. Single tickets go on sale June 1.

For complete information, call 510-841-1903 or visit

--Adam Flowers, West Edge Opera

Vienna Philharmonic and IDAGIO Announce Partnership
The Vienna Philharmonic and classical music streaming service IDAGIO announce an important new partnership today.

Classical music lovers can now audio-stream live recordings of the Vienna Philharmonic's famous subscription concerts at the Vienna Musikverein on IDAGIO. First in this series of exclusive recordings to be made available on the streaming service features Christian Thielemann conducting the farewell concert of Dieter Flury, the orchestra's principal flute from 1981 to 2017. The programme includes Brahms's Fourth Symphony and Jörg Widmann's "Flûte en suite".

The partnership also encompasses joint marketing activities, including a series of short films, "Up Close," in which members of the Vienna Philharmonic answer one simple questions: "Which recording should we listen to and why?" You can watch the first in this revealing series of exclusive videos here:

--Elias Wuermeling, IDAGIO PR

MasterVoices Presents New Production of Orphic Moments at JALC Rose Theater
MasterVoices--dedicated to celebrating the power of the human voice through the art of musical storytelling--presents two performances of a new production of Orphic Moments, in conjunction with producers Anthony Roth Costanzo and Cath Brittan.

The performances are Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. and Monday, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, NYC. The inventive and contemporary pairing, which premiered at National Sawdust in 2016 to great acclaim, combines trailblazing composer and librettist Matthew Aucoin's dramatic cantata, The Orphic Moment, with Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, in a large-scale new version re-conceived for MasterVoices.

The production probes Orpheus's psychology, and his fatal decision to turn back. The traditional myth is viewed through the lens of artistic ego and hubris in moral choice. The production is conducted by Ted Sperling, directed by Zack Winokur, and has scenic design by Douglas Fitch. It features countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, sopranos Kiera Duffy and Lauren Snouffer, dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, violinist Keir GoGwilt, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the MasterVoices Chorus.

Sunday, May 6 at 8:30 p.m.
Monday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m.
Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10023

Tickets can be purchased at, by calling CenterCharge (212-721-6500) or by visiting the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office, within the Time Warner Center, at Broadway at 60th Street, Ground Floor Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12pm-6pm.

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

ROCO Announces its 2018-19 Season
ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra) is excited to announce its 2018-19 season, entitled "Games People Play." The rollicking musical rumpus will include seven world premiere commissions – bringing the organization's total to an impressive 76 – and will reinforce ROCO's commitment to diversity by featuring a female composer, conductor, or soloist on every concert.

The In Concert performances feature pieces running the game-related gamut from a chess match between piano and orchestra, to a sonic simulacrum of solitaire, to an orchestral depiction of a Turkish wrestler. The delightfully unorthodox, musician-led Unchambered series continues to offer a new vision of how chamber music can uniquely connect performers and audiences – including a new piece entitled "Mind Games," where the audience votes with their phones during the performance and influences the direction of the piece.

The Connections series continues to take the music out of the concert hall and into new and unusual places, including a vintage game night at Rienzi, a larger-than-life version of musical chairs at The Heritage Society, and a performance of Peter and the Wolf at the Houston Zoo that swaps 'wolf' for 'bear' in celebration of the zoo's new ursine exhibit.

For more information go to

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

PBO Closes Season with a Beethovenian Bang
Waverley Fund Music Director Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale are soon to cap off another season of historically informed performances with a powerful Beethoven program that includes the composer's monumental Mass in C major, Op. 86 and Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" in concerts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area April 25-29.

The 2017/18 season finale entitled "Beethoven Unleashed" is inspired by Beethoven's epic Akademie concert of 1808, during which he premiered the Mass in C and "Choral Fantasy." PBO will also include Cherubini's poignant tribute to Haydn, "Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn."

For complete information, visit

--Dianne Provenzano, Philharmonia Baroque

Coming up in France à Cordes...
The 14th-century relocation of the papacy from Rome to Avignon provided ripe opportunity for both shock and satire. The Roman de Fauvel, an allegorical verse about an orange-hued donkey who becomes king, and whose marriage to Fortune results in the antichrist, is probably the best known work to come out of the tumult.

Basel-based virtuosa Corina Marti performs exquisite musical selections by Philippe de Vitry and others, Ars Nova tales that tell of calamity that ensues when a state loses its way and an ass takes the throne.

Sunday, April 8 at 4:00pm
L'Église Française du Saint Esprit
111 East 60th Street, NYC

Corina Marti, clavisymbalum, double flutes, and recorders

For more information and tickets, visit

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

San Francisco Girls Chorus Concludes Season with Jacobsen World Premiere
The San Francisco Girls Chorus and Artistic Director Designate Valérie Sainte-Agathe conclude the 2017-18 subscription season on Sunday, April 22, at 4 p.m. at the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in a program in collaboration with composer and violinist Colin Jacobsen.

Featuring the world premiere of Jacobsen's Vocalissimus, the program celebrates Lisa Bielawa's final concert as SFGC's Artistic Director with a musical amalgam of projects and partnerships created during her five seasons with the chorus. Selections from the ensemble's newly released album Final Answer are featured, including Opening: Forest from Bielawa's TV opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, Final Answer by Theo Bleckmann, Herring Run by Carla Kihlstedt, and Bubbles by Aleksandra Vrebalov. Also featured on the program are three hymns from The Crucible by Philip Glass and Septuor by French composer André Caplet.

For more information, visit

--Brenden Guy PR

ASPECT Foundation Presents "Weimar, The Cradle of Musical Talent"
The ASPECT Foundation for Music & Arts presents Weimar: The Cradle of Musical Talent on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at The Italian Academy at Columbia University, NYC, part of the foundation's second New York City season of illuminating performances featuring many of the most prominent performers and musical scholars of today.

The evening features celebrated pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin and 2007 International Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medalist, cellist Sergey Antonon, in Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G Major, Mendelssohn's Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major, and Liszt's Piano Sonata in B Minor, paired with an illustrated talk by veteran BBC radio host and musicologist Stephen Johnson. Johnson will delve into the city of Weimar's significance during the twentieth century as a beacon of culture. This includes Bach's tenure as Weimar's court organist; twelve-year-old Mendelssohn's visit to the city, effectively making an impression on the writer Goethe; and Liszt's 1842 appointment as court composer. Alongside performances of some of these three composers finest instrumental works, this concert examines the Golden Age of a city that became a place of refuge during troubled times.

"Weimar: The Cradle of Musical Talent"
Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7:30pm
The Italian Academy at Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC
Tickets: $45 includes wine and refreshments

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

The Emerson String Quartet and Pianist Evgeny Kissin's First U.S. Tour
For the first time, Evgeny Kissin joins the Emerson String Quartet in chamber music for three performances in the U.S. at Chicago's Symphony Hall (April 15), Boston's Jordan Hall (April 22) and  New York's Carnegie Hall (April 27), following a European tour in Baden Baden, Paris, Munich, Essen, Vienna, Amsterdam. The program features Piano Quartets by Mozart and Fauré, and Dvorák's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81, a central masterwork of Romantic-era chamber music.

The Emerson Quartet & Evgeny Kissin talk about their first-time collaboration:

--Xi Wang, Kirshbaum Associates

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa