Ella with the London Symphony Orchestra (CD review)

"Someone to Watch Over Me." Ella Fitzgerald, vocals; James Morgan, Jorge Calandrelli, London Symphony Orchestra. Verve B002729702.

For those youngsters not familiar with Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), I quote from Wikipedia: She "was an American jazz singer sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, intonation, and a 'horn-like' improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing." She began her career in the 1930's and hit her peak of popularity in the 1940's through 1970's.

Now, here's what makes this Verve Records collection a little different from the many albums, singles, and box sets that have come before it. It's a hybrid. It's one of those digital concoctions that combines older recordings with new ones. In this case, the album takes some of Ms. Fitzgerald's most-famous recordings, cleans them up, and provides them with lush, new accompaniments courtesy of the London Symphony Orchestra. While it's unfortunate the producers do not provide any recording dates, one may infer that the vocals come the 1950's and the LSO from around the time of the album's release, 2017.

The program's only drawback is that as with so many other pop albums it includes only a dozen tracks. That's less than forty-some minutes on a compact disc capable of carrying twice that amount of material. But I'm quibbling to complain when the results are so good.

Here's a list of the contents:
  1. People Will Say We're in Love (with Gregory Porter)
  2. Someone to Watch Over Me
  3. They Can't Take That Away From Me (with Louis Armstrong)
  4. Bewitched
  5. I Get a Kick Out of You
  6. Misty
  7. Makin' Whoopee!
  8. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
  9. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (with Louis Armstrong)
10. What Is There To Say
11. Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)
12. With a Song in My Heart

Ella Fitzgerald
So, how well does all this hold up? Pretty well, actually. Some listeners may carp about some of the song choices, a purely subjective reaction; others like me may complain about the meager number of selections. Nevertheless, there can hardly be any dispute about the content. Ms. Fitzgerald's voice was at its best: smooth, rich, nuanced, and heartfelt. More important for this particular blend of old and new, the old vocals are seamlessly integrated with the new orchestral accompaniment. Yes, the voice does sound a bit too big and forward, so the imaging is more pop than audiophile. I doubt anyone will notice or care.

Favorites? Of course. The opening number, "People Will Say We're in Love," a Rodgers and Hammerstein song, featuring Ella with Gregory Porter, is wonderfully upbeat. Yet that's followed by an even better number, Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," in probably the best rendition ever given it. Another Gershwin track, "They Can't Take That Away from Me," is made all the more welcome as a duet with the great Louis Armstrong, and for me it's probably the highlight of the program.

And so it goes. Along the way, there are great versions of "Misty"; "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," again with Louis Armstrong that's a delight; and Cole Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)." Once more, I just wish there were additional tunes. And I wish the booklet insert had said something more about them. Oh, well....

Verve Records, which Ms. Fitgerald's old manager founded in 1956 and which boasts one of the biggest jazz catalogues in the business, if not THE biggest, fails, as I said, to provide any information anywhere about the original recording dates of Ms. Fitzgerald's vocals. However, they do indicate that the LSO accompaniments were probably done in or around the disc's release date, 2017. Anyway, producers James Morgan and Juliette Pochin made the album for Morgan Pochin Productions and Verve Records. Steve Price recorded the LSO at Abbey Road Studios, London, with some additional solo upright bass and drums recorded by Ben Robbins at Umbrella Sound, London.

The sonics are big and clear in a pop recording sort of way. The voices are well integrated with the orchestra, as I've said, and one might be forgiven for not realizing the vocals and orchestra were recorded some fifty or sixty years apart. The LSO, especially, appears dynamic, well focused, and reasonably transparent. It's a pleasurable accomplishment.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 29, 2018

An Announcement from Festival Mozaic Board President Jo Anne Miller

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Festival Mozaic, it is with mixed feelings that I share the news that Festival Mozaic Executive Director Bettina Swigger has accepted a position as the Chief Executive Officer of Downtown SLO, a 501(c)6 organization advocating for the economic vibrancy and cultural relevance of downtown San Luis Obispo. While we are very sorry to see her leave the organization that she has led successfully for the past 8 years, we are proud that she will continue to serve our community and look forward to continuing to work with her to champion the entire region as a place where the arts can flourish.

 This is an exciting time for Festival Mozaic. Having just completed our 48th consecutive Summer Season, Festival Mozaic is poised for continued growth and increased impact throughout San Luis Obispo County. The WinterMezzo Chamber Music series, featuring two weekends of great performances by visiting artists is set for October 24-27, 2018 and February 22-24, 2019. The Board of Directors has recently approved a new strategic plan which will guide the organization's work through its 50th anniversary celebration in 2020 and well beyond. Our Music Director, Scott Yoo, has recently been informed that his new PBS TV Series, "Now Hear This," will be premiering during Spring 2019 as part of Great Performances. Scott expects that Festival Mozaic will become a recurring character in the show in season two.

 Says Scott Yoo: "The festival is in an enviably strong artistic position and I have never been more optimistic about its future. Bettina Swigger's leadership, hard work and eye for detail has elevated Festival Mozaic into a world-class performing arts organization. We have a life-long friend in Bettina, and wish her nothing but the very best as she joins Downtown SLO." Bettina's last day with Festival Mozaic will be September 30, 2018.

The Board of Directors of Festival Mozaic has initiated the process of a nationwide search for a new Executive Director, who will help us reach exciting new heights in the next phase of development for this outstanding musical organization. We anticipate introducing the new Executive Director to the community well before the 2019 Summer Festival.

Tickets are currently on sale for the 2018-2019 WinterMezzo Chamber Music Series and Music Director Scott Yoo is busy planning a wonderful 2019 Summer Festival, which will take place July 24 - August 4. Don't miss it!

For complete information about Festival Mozaic, visit http://www.festivalmozaic.com/

--Jo Anne Miller, Festival Mozaic

Off to the Hunt!
The opening concerts of American Bach Soloists' 30th All-Bach Season will feature the sonorous corno da caccia or "hunting horn" in two works that reveal Bach's playful dispositions while employed in Weimar and Cöthen.

Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major brings the Baroque horn to the foreground in some of Bach's most robust instrumental music, and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major for three groups of string instruments matches violins, violas, and 'cellos in a rally of friendly competition, a tour de force volley of virtuosity.

The joyful "Hunting Cantata" "Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!" ("What pleases me is the lively hunt!") is Bach's earliest surviving secular cantata, composed for the 31st birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels whose wise governance and adept hunting skills are allegorically praised in song. A truly splendid and entertaining work that celebrates Love and Nature, the cantata is filled with captivating arias including the famous and beautiful "Sheep may safely graze." A superb vocal quartet and colorful instrumentation including horns, oboes, bassoon, and strings--featuring the brilliant ABS orchestra under the enlightened direction of Jeffrey Thomas--will bring this music to life.

Friday October 19 2018 8:00 p.m.
St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, CA

Saturday October 20 2018 8:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Berkeley, CA

Sunday October 21 2018 4:00 p.m.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA

Monday October 22 2018 7:00 p.m.
Davis Community Church, Davis, CA

For more information and tickets, visit http://americanbach.org/2018-10.html

--American Bach Soloists

Bowie Symphonic U.S. Tour Featuring Cellist Maya Beiser
This fall, cello soloist Maya Beiser and composer/conductor Evan Ziporyn embark on a U.S. tour with Ziporyn's Ambient Orchestra, bringing Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar to the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA (Friday, October 12); the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT (Saturday, October 13), Bass Concert Hall presented by Texas Performing Arts in Austin, TX (Thursday, November 1), and Bing Concert Hall presented by Stanford Live in Stanford, CA (Wednesday, November 7).

Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar is a startling and soaring new version of David Bowie's entire last album Blackstar for solo cello and orchestra. Arranged for Beiser by Ziporyn, who will also conduct Ambient Orchestra, Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar has been performed to capacity audiences in Boston, Barcelona, and New York City's Central Park SummerStage. For the fall tour, Ambient Orchestra is joined by musicians from Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

The Boston Globe recently described internationally renowned cellist Maya Beiser as "a force of nature," and wrote of the performance of Blackstar in Boston last year, "The orchestra's approach took advantage of the rich, jazz-infused harmonic palette of 'Blackstar.' As the rest of the strings rose up in deep menace and then flitted away like shadows, Beiser's cello replaced the vocals of 'Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)' with a shivering panic. . . 'Lazarus' reached further down into the grave and further up toward the stars all at once."

For more information, visit https://www.mayabeiser.com/calendar/upcoming

--Christina Jensen Artists

Salon/Sanctuary Tenth Season
"A Decoration of Silence"
Nigel North performs works of Francesco da Milano
Monday, November 5th 8:00pm
Tickets: https://www.showclix.com/event/NigelNorth

"Giulio il Romano"
Ensemble Ricercare Antico with tenor Riccardo Pisani performs works from the dawn of opera
Friday, November 9th 8:00pm
Tickets: https://www.showclix.com/event/GiulioRomano

Both concerts at the Library of the House of the Redeemer, 7 East 95th Street, NYC.

--Salon/Sanctuary Concerts

Ariel Quartet Performs in NYPhil's Inaugural "Nightcap" Series
The highly-acclaimed, young Ariel Quartet returns to New York City in the fall of 2018 with two captivating performances: as a part of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's Nightcap series, as well as the Aspect Foundation for Music & Arts series, based at The Italian Academy of Columbia University.

New York Philharmonic
Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, NYC
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10:30PM

Beethoven: Intimate Letters
Aspect Foundation for Music & Arts
The Italian Academy - Columbia University, NYC
Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7:30PM

For more information, visit https://www.arielquartet.com/

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

SF Girls Chorus Opens 40th Anniversary Season
The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe open the organization's 40th anniversary concert season on Thursday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Herbst Theatre with "Mademoiselle: An American Inspiration."

Saluting the influence of French composer Nadia Boulanger on some of the most important composers in American history, the program will showcase works by Nadia and the music of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Virgil Thompson, David Conte and Louise Talma. Also featured is a selection of works by her sister, Lili Boulanger, in honor of the centennial anniversary of her tragic death. Lyric tenor Nicholas Phan makes his SFGC debut performing songs by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, Copland, and Bernstein.

For more information, visit sfgirlschorus.org

--Brenden Guy PR

First Annual Andrew Park Composition Prize Winners Announced
The Andrew Park Foundation has named composers June Young Kim (South Korea) and Joseph Lee (USA) prize-winners in the Foundation's first annual Andrew Park Composition Prize. Messrs. Kim and Lee will each receive a cash prize valued at $1,500 and will have their new works premiered at New York's Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday, December 16, 2018, 3 p.m.

The purpose of the Andrew Park Composition Prize is to build a broader understanding of the connections between the traditions of the West and East through music and poetry. In the past, Toru Takemitsu and Isang Yun produced some of the most important works of Asian modernism, combining their experiences of their own and Western cultures. The Foundation encourages composers to continue in this spirit, bridging differences and forging stronger ties.

Applications for the 2019 Andrew Park Composition Prize will be available in February, 2019. For more information please visit www.andrewparkfoundation.org/en/composition-prize/.

--Nancy Shear Arts Services

Young People's Chorus of New York City Introduces Vocal Currents New Music Series
Over its 30-year history, the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) has been at the forefront of commissioning today's leading composers to explore the distinctive quality of children's voices, and it continues this mission with the latest YPC concert and commissioning series, "Vocal Currents: Music in our Changing World."

The series' inaugural concert, featuring YPC commissions and world premieres, takes place at Merkin Concert Hall on Saturday, November 3 at 8:00 p.m. and is hosted by radio personality John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck. YPC's Vocal Currents series challenges composers to express in music for young people the currents of thought and feeling that animate our lives today, while challenging YPC choristers with new and innovative works that reflect the world they live in. YPC will also share these works, as well as future Vocal Currents commissions, with children's choirs in communities and schools around the world, so that all can benefit from these important additions to the repertoire.

Tickets priced at $25 (students: $15) will be on sale shortly from kaufmanmusiccenter.org.

For more information, visit ypc.org.

--Shuman Associates PR

Nu Deco Ensemble Announces Its 2018-19 Season
Miami's Nu Deco Ensemble is proud to announce its fourth season, continuing its forward-thinking programming and genre-bending performances throughout 2018-19, with concerts at Miami's premiere music venues: New World Center, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Wynwood's The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, and the North Beach Bandshell. The orchestra's singular mix of core classical repertoire, contemporary music and commissions, and collaboratively-arranged suites of popular music, has built a devoted fan base of next-generation music lovers throughout the South Florida area, with sold-out crowds and critical acclaim.

For more information, visit https://www.nu-deco.org/

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

Fischoff Champions Callisto Quartet Perform at Music Institute
Fresh from their Grand Prize-winning performance at the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Callisto Quartet makes its Nichols Concert Hall debut November 10 at 7:30 p.m., presented by the Music Institute of Chicago. Nichols Concert Hall is located at 1490 Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston, Illinois.

Callisto's program features the Chicago premiere of Cantos by one of Spain's most prestigious young composers, Francisco Coll. The Quartet also performs Schubert's String Quartet in C Minor, D 703; Bartók's String Quartet No. 6; and Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 59, No. 2.

For more information, call 800.838.3006 or visit musicinst.org.

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

Kate Soper Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre
The "sublimely exploratory" (The Chicago Reader) Wet Ink Ensemble continues its 20th anniversary season on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 8:00pm with a staged production of Wet Ink-member Kate Soper's IPSA DIXIT, part of Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Composer Portrait: Kate Soper.

IPSA DIXIT ("She, herself, said it") is a genre-defying work of chamber music theatre that explores music, language, and meaning through blistering ensemble virtuosity and extended vocal technique. Developed over six years of collaboration with the Wet Ink Ensemble, IPSA DIXIT uses elements of monodrama, Greek tragedy, and performance art to skewer the treachery of language and the questionable authenticity of artistic expression. IPSA DIXIT, called "Comprehensively astounding .... a twenty-first century masterpiece" by The New Yorker, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music. The composer, herself, performs the virtuosic score alongside members of the ensemble Wet Ink in this evening-length tour de force.

For more information, visit https://www.millertheatre.com/events/kate-soper

--Katy Salomon, Morahan Arts and Media

Festival Mozaic Brings Chamber Music to San Luis Obispo County
Festival Mozaic's WinterMezzo Series runs October 25-27, 2018 with three days of music, food, wine and education. Well-known for its popular summer music festival, Festival Mozaic brings world-class chamber music performances to scenic San Luis Obispo County, California, throughout the year with its WinterMezzo series.

Scott Yoo, the Festival's Music Director, curates the WinterMezzo series, which showcases exceptional artists performing in intimate venues. Yoo will perform as violinist in these programs along with featured artists. Yoo is in residence in San Luis Obispo six weeks annually; he serves as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic and he recently conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in two recording projects. Yoo is also the host and co-executive producer of Now Hear This, a music and travel television program slated to air as part of Great Performances on PBS in Spring 2019.

For more information, visit FestivalMozaic.com.

--David George, Festival Mosaic

IDAGIO Launches in North America
IDAGIO, the leading streaming service for classical music is now available in North America. To support the launch and further internationalisation, the Berlin based streaming service successfully secured an internal funding round of EUR 10 million with existing investors. With its North American launch, IDAGIO enters the most important market for audio streaming. The internal funding round brings the total raised by the service to over EUR 20 million since its foundation in 2015.

For further information, visit https://about.idagio.com/.

--Elias Wuermeling, IDAGIO

New York String Orchestra Celebrates 50th Year
On the morning of Wednesday, December 19, sixty-four of the nation's most gifted music students between the ages of 16 and 23 will meet for the first time under the baton of conductor Jaime Laredo to form the 50th New York String Orchestra, a program under the auspices of The New School's Mannes School of Music.

Over the course of the 10-day program, the young artists will perform two concerts presented by Carnegie Hall with internationally acclaimed soloists including Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, and program alumnae violinists Pamela Frank, Kyoko Takezawa, Bella Hristova, and Jinjoo Cho.  Alumna and guest-conductor Karina Canellakis will lead the orchestra in George Walker's Lyric for Strings, in a celebration of the beloved, recently deceased, African-American composer. Two dozen program alumni, now concertmasters and principal players in orchestras across the country, will join the students on December 28 in a performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6.

For complete information, visit http://www.kirshbaumassociates.com/agency.php?view=news&nid=9682

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Upcoming EXO Concerts
Experiential Orchestra has the following upcoming events, both in NYC and DC:

Thursday October 4 from 5-8:30pm (Washington, DC): In partnership with The Outrage, EXO performs at the renowned Phillips Collection as a part of their Phillips After 5 series.

Saturday November 17 (Washington, DC): EXO presents Sine Nomine at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, a concert that is designed to complement the exhibit Without Provenance.

Saturday December 1 (NYC): EXO invites you to experience our Nutcracker Dance Along!

For complete information, visit www.experientialorchestra.com.

--Experiential Orchestra

Soprano Anna Lucia Richter Signs to PENTATONE
PENTATONE is delighted to announce the signing of an exclusive, multi-album agreement with German soprano Anna Lucia Richter, one of the brightest stars on today's vocal firmament.

Noted for her interpretations of the great canon of German song literature, she is equally at home in the music of the Baroque, in Mozart and Romantic fare, the breadth and versatility of which will be reflected in her plans with the label. Together with master pianist Gerold Huber, she took to the recording studio earlier this year and documented a selection of heart-wrenchingly beautiful songs by Franz Schubert, including some of his most famous melodies, which will be released in February under the title "Heimweh."

For more information, visit https://www.annaluciarichter.com.

--Sylvia Pietrosanti, PENTATONE

Russian Soul (CD review)

Music of Tchaikovsky, Gliere, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, Shostakovich, and Gedike. Corey Cerovsek, violin; Constantine Orbelian, Moscow Chamber Orchestra. Delos DE 3244.

No, we're not talking about rhythm and blues or gospel music here. We're talking about, well, the animating principal of traditional music, particularly of Russian traditional music.

The accompanying booklet to this 1999 Delos release asks the question, What are the most obvious traits of Russian music, with the answer "emotionally intense, melodically rich, often dark in sound and melancholic in mood." That aptly sums up the short Russian works on this disc, with an emphasis on the melancholy.

Constantine Orbelian
American-born Constantine Orbelian (of Russian and Armenian parentage) leads the Moscow Chamber Orchestra (Orbelian being the first American ever to lead a Russian ensemble) in a series of pieces, some familiar, some not, by a variety of Russian composers. Tchaikovsky's "Meditation," Serenade Melancholique," "Elegie," and "Andante Cantabile" will certainly be familiar to most listeners; as will the several bits by Gliere, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, and Shostakovich. But there are also folk tunes like "The Rush Light" and a "Miniature" by Gedike that will perhaps come as new delights. Corey Cerovsek's dramatically plaintive violin is no less a contributing factor to the authority of the program than the Russian players behind him.

Delos's sound, engineered by John Eargle, closely matches the climate of the music. It is warm, smooth, flattering in its soft ambiance, and entirely realistic. Eargle apparently recorded it for optimum playback in surround sound, as the disc is marked a "Virtual Reality Recording." But it is a tribute to the developing technique of multi-channel processing that no evidence of this system is noticeable during regular two-channel stereo listening. There is no shroud of enveloping fog veiling the music as one sometimes hears from this VR recording process. Indeed, the sonics, while not the ultimate in transparency, always appear quite natural.

Altogether, this is a pleasant if somewhat somber recording of mostly soulful, though not doleful, Russian favorites. The good sound is icing on the cake.


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

Fuchs: Piano Concerto "Spiritualist" (CD review)

Also, Poems of Life; Glacier; Rush. Jeffrey Biegel, piano; JoAnn Falletta, London Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.559824.

The contemporary American composer, conductor, and professor of composition Kenneth Fuchs (b. 1956) has been writing music for several decades now and has made over a dozen recordings, five of the last six with JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony. His works include music for orchestra, band, chorus, and various chamber ensembles and differ in genre from classical to popular. More important, for those worried that any modern composer is inevitably going to annoy them with dissonant, discordant, unharmonic, atonal notes they don't understand and don't enjoy, be assured that Mr. Fuchs's music is charmingly melodious and approachable.

The four works represented on the present album are all world-première recordings, the first one, the Piano Concerto "Spiritualist" from 2016 featuring American pianist Jeffrey Biegel and inspired by three paintings by Helen Frankenthaler. The music is fresh and vigorously pursued by Biegel and Falletta. Although it may not have enough in it to make it truly memorable, it has enough flair to pass an agreeable twenty minutes or so. The second, slow movement is particularly graceful and serene in its outer sections, growing more agitated and turbulent in the middle before settling back into a quiet rest. Taken on its own, it might be worth the price of the whole album.

JoAnn Falletta
The second work on the disc, Poems of Life (2017), is an orchestral song cycle for countertenor (Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor) and orchestra (including solos by Tim Hugh, cello, and Christine Pendrill, English horn) based on twelve poems by Judith G. Wolf from her book Otherwise. The composer tells us that love, loss, and "emotional transformation" are the themes of these poems. Fans of vocal music will, I'm sure, find them well performed, although I found them mostly too melancholy and depressing for my pedestrian taste.

The next work is called Glacier (2015), a concerto for electric guitar (D.J. Sparr, electric guitar) and orchestra. Fuchs says he based each of its five movements on the natural elements of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. These are powerful reflections, ranging in mood from tranquil to mysterious to majestic, all of them colorful and picturesque. You don't get many (any?) classical concertos for electric guitar, but this one seems to do it justice. It may be a good crossover piece for fans of pop-rock guitar to hear just how versatile the instrument can be. Again, wonderfully entertaining and well executed, with elements of Rodrigo along the way, and probably my favorite complete work on the disc.

The program concludes with Rush (2012), another concerto, this one for alto saxophone (Timothy McAllister, alto sax) and orchestra. It alternates a jazzy, up-tempo, band-like mood with a more bluesy tone. While it's fun if somewhat inconsequential, it does prove the considerable and multiple talents of Ms. Falletta, Mr. McAllister, and the LSO.

Producer Tim Handley and engineer Jonathan Allen recorded the music at Abbey Road Studio 1, London in August 2017. With a shelf full of Grammy awards for producer Handley, and with Abbey Road Studio 1 being like a second home to the LSO, it's no wonder the sonic results are so good. The hall resonance is mild but still pronounced enough to lend the music a lifelike, sometimes enveloping air. The entire experience, soloists and orchestra, appears just a tad close, but with it comes a nice clarity, with percussion especially well rendered. The stereo spread is wide and the depth of image moderate. It's a fine, modern recording.


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 22, 2018

American Bach Soloists Gala: Sparkle 2018 "Versailles"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)

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

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

7:30 p.m.
Dinner and live auction

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

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

--American Bach Soloists

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

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

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

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

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale

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

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

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

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

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

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

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

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

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

--Festival Mosaic

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

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

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

For more information, visit princetonuniversityconcerts.org

--Dasha Koltunyuk, Princeton University Concerts

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

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

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

--Jeffrey James Arts Consulting

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

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

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

For more information, visit americanbach.org

--American Bach Soloists

Bridge: The Sea (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ecosse Maestro MA2 Interconnect Cables (Cable review)

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

By John J. Puccio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy listening.


Classical Music News of the Week, September 15, 2018

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Opens Season with "Mozart Magnified"

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

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

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

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

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

Classical KDFC is the radio home of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. KDFC broadcasts an unreleased live Philharmonia concert recording the second Sunday of every month from 8-9 p.m.

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

--Dianne Provenzano, PBO

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

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

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

--Diane Blackman, BR Public Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Shear Arts Services

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

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

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

--Young People's Chorus of New York City

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

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

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

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

--Dworkin & Company

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

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

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

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

--Genevieve Spielberg Inc.

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

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

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

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

--SOLI Chamber Ensemble

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

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

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

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

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

--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago

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

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

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

--Brenden Guy PR

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

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

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

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

--James Inverne Music Consultancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Brenden Guy PR

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

--Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf, Kirshbaum Associates

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 (CD review)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Classical Music News of the Week, September 8, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

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

--Arturo Ochoa, President, FAYM

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

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

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

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

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

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

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

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

--Rebecca Davis PR

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

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

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

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

--Jennifer Scott, Los Angeles Master Chorale

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

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

--Rebecca Davis PR

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

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

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

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

YouTube Link:

--Doreen Rose Pugh, WNET

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

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

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

--Festival Mosaic

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

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

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

--Andrew Ousley, Unison Media

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

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

--Shuman Associates PR

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 both its equipment and recordings 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 simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me — point out recordings that they 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 Marantz CD 6007 and Onkyo CD 7030 CD players, 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

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@gmail.com

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to classicalcandor@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa