Classical Music News of the Week, July 28, 2018

Anne Sofie von Otter Joins PBO at Lincoln Center

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw will be together again with Nic McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at New York's Lincoln Center in March 2019. PBO commissioned Shaw to write three pieces in 2015 and von Otter premiered the first of them with PBO at L.A.'s Disney Hall in May 2016. The second was performed by Dominique Labelle at the 2017 gala, and now the third and final song will be premiered with Anne Sofie von Otter in New York.

The New York program will also include the PBO debut of star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. Costanzo curated and performed in a critically-acclaimed modern-day adaptation of Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo that was co-produced by PBO at National Sawdust last summer. San Francisco Bay Area patrons can look forward to a similar program next March when Anne Sofie von Otter joins PBO to perform the first two Caroline Shaw songs with works by Arvo Pärt and Handel arias with countertenor Daniel Moody who will also be making his PBO debut.

For more information about Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, visit

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Tenor Michael Fabiano signs to PENTATONE
PENTATONE is delighted to announce that American tenor Michael Fabiano, one of the most exciting talents to emerge in recent years, has signed a long-term, exclusive deal with the label. This new partnership will showcase the breadth of his repertoire over several albums, and will be inaugurated next year with a collection of Verdi and Donizetti arias, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Enrique Mazzola.

Quote from Michael Fabiano:
"I am proud to be joining the Pentatone family. Their commitment to excellence and dedication to collaboration, creates a wonderful environment in which to work, and I am looking forward to a long and mutually rewarding artistic partnership."

For more information, visit and

--Silvia Pietrosanti, PENTATONE

Icelandic Duo HUGAR Signs to Sony Music Masterworks
Multitalented songwriters, composers and instrumentalists HUGAR have signed with Sony Music Masterworks in anticipation of releasing new music with the label this Fall.

Friends from the sleepy township of Seltjarnarnes, the Icelandic pair consisting of Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson have made a name for themselves with their multilayered, ethereally ambient pieces, which have racked up over 30 million streams worldwide since the group's debut.

Combining a shared love of musical experimentation and discovery, the musically versatile duo have a robust upcoming tour schedule this fall.  Slated to perform headline shows across Europe and Asia this coming Fall including The Reeperbahn Festival, HUGAR will also make their third appearance at the Iceland Airwaves festival.

Bergur and Pétur have also lent their musical mastery to a range of projects, working alongside local musical luminary Björk on her latest album as recording engineer and performing onstage as well as Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds and Johann Johannson in their projects scoring music for film and TV.

For more information, visit

--Larissa Slezak, Sony Music

Copland House 2018 Residency Awards Announced
An unusually diverse group of 12 highly-gifted composers has been selected to receive the 2018 Copland House Residency Awards. Ranging in age from 31 to 57, these four women and eight men from eight states come from widely-varied personal and artistic backgrounds, and have pursued divergent creative paths from concert music to jazz, acoustic to electronic, minutely-detailed to free and improvisatory, socially-engaged to abstract. They include a 2018 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, recipients of the Charles Ives Living award and Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Career Grant, and two much-acclaimed concert and jazz pianists.

Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin announced that Copland House's Residents for 2018-19 will be Michael Brown, 31 (New York, NY); Ke-Chia Chen, 38 (Philadelphia, PA); Andrea Clearfield, 57 (Philadelphia, PA); Michael Fiday, 57 (Cincinnati, OH); Michael Gilbertson, 31 (San Francisco, CA); Huck Hodge, 41 (Seattle, WA); Benjamin Krause, 33 (Valparaiso, IN); Remy Le Boeuf, 32 (Brooklyn, NY); Zibuokle Martinaityte, 45 (New York, NY); Paula Matthusen, 39 (Middletown, CT); Justin Merritt, 43 (Northfield, MN); and Greg Reitan, 45 (South Pasadena, CA). Clearfield, Martinaityte, and Merritt are returning for their second Residencies, and Gilbertson was a 2015 Fellow of Copland House's "Cultivate" emerging composers institute.

For more information, visit

--Dworkin & Company

"As One Destined to Stand Out and Challenge the Status Quo of Both Opera and Society"
In As One, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. As One traces Hannah's experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years on the West Coast, and finally to Norway where she is surprised at what she learns about herself.

Two new productions:
July 25-30, 2018
Music Hall, Wilks Studio
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Hannah After: Amber Fasquelle
Hannah Before: Matthew Worth
Conductor: Gene Chang; Stage Director  Robin Guarino
For more information, visit

August 7, 2018 | 4:00pm
Chautauqua Institute, Norton Hall
Chautauqua, NY 14722

Hannah After: Sasha Cooke
Hannah Before: Kelly Markgraf
Conductor: Steven Osgood; Stage Director: Matt Gray
For more information, visit

--American Opera Projects

Semele - A Story of Love, Jealousy, and Transfiguration
Handels's Semele: August 9 & 10 in San Francisco with American Bach Soloists.

Jupiter, King of the gods, takes the mortal Princess Semele to a secret hiding place on a mountain to be his mistress. When Jupiter's wife, Juno, hears of her husband's adultery, she is enraged and plots to ensure Semele's downfall. In disguise, Juno appeals to the girl's vanity and persuades her to insist on seeing her lover in his divine form. Jupiter reluctantly agrees. But since mortals cannot look upon the gods without incinerating, Semele perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame. From her ashes arose her unborn child by Jupiter, Bacchus, god of wine and ecstasy.

Large-scale opera and oratorio is a major component of every American Bach Soloists Summer Festival. Based on an English opera libretto yet designated "after the manner of an Oratorio," Handel's Semele melds the two forms into one superb work.

Thursday August 9 2018 7:30 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Friday August 10 2018 7:30 p.m.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Academy Singers & ABS Academy Festival Orchestra
Jeffrey Thomas conductor

For more information, visit

--American Bach Soloists

FAYM Appreciation
A message from Liam Mansfield, one of FAYM's "Collegiate Scholars," who graduated last spring from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music:

"On the verge of finishing my undergraduate degree at IU-Jacobs, it hit me: for the first time, I had the chance to move my life in whatever direction I wanted.

I spent the month of June performing with the Colorado College Summer Music Festival in Colorado Springs. I have to say, it was one of the most gratifying musical experiences of my life. We covered Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Brahms' Academic Festival Overture, Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and Schumann's 1st Symphony in a little under three weeks. My quartet, The Wooglin Quartet, performed Mozart's 'Dissonance' Quartet, and to top it all off, I won the concerto competition with Mozart's Third Violin Concerto.

Needless to say, it was the month of Mozart for me.

After a whirlwind of concerts, I made a big change that I had been dreaming of for years: moving to Europe. I'm now living in a 25 square meter apartment in Berlin, a city overflowing with artists and creatives of every type. It's been an enormous change from Bloomington, Indiana, but I feel invigorated every time I step outside.

For the next twelve months I will be applying for scholarships, jobs, and graduate schools while establishing myself as a freelancer in the city. I have German classes for three hours a day, Monday though Thursday at the Deutsche Akademie on Alexanderplatz.

Thank you, Foundation to Assist Young Musicians, for helping me arrive at this point in my life. I feel like I am really living the dream." --Liam Mansfield

--Hal Weller, FAYM

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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